Best finish for bowls

Will80

Member
Full Member
Messages
16
Reaction score
24
Location
Savannah, Georgia
First name
Will
I haven’t done but a few but so far I've been using a sanding sealer and then an oil finish like tung or blo or most recently walnut oil. I like the results for the most part but I was wondering if there is anything that you can use to make it resistant to liquid. I’ve heard people talk about using their wood bowl for cereal. What can be used to make that possible?
 

Brandon Sloan

Member
Full Member
Messages
285
Reaction score
533
Location
Alaska
First name
Brandon
Any of the finishes you are already using will work, once fully cured. I’m a fan of Dr. Woodshops microcrystal wax bowl finish. You won’t be able to maintain a perfect finish on a utilitarian bowl. If the bowl starts looking dry, I will hand buff with some Clapham’s Beeswax salad bowl finish.
 

David Hill

I collect & use Texas woods---but prefer Mesquite.
Full Member
Messages
2,598
Reaction score
4,675
Location
Cuero, Texas--Not far from the Third Coast
First name
David
My best answer is---it depends on what you want your wood to do:
I like Poly because it's hard to go wrong--don't get me wrong--there is a learning curve. It's durable, food safe and can be used in many forms--regular out of the can, wipe on or spray. All you have to do is decide how many coats and how much shine, I'm a great fan of semigloss;
I don't usually use on light colored woods as it will either darken it some or may add some yellow. A good poly finish should be fluid resistant.


There are lot of other finishes and I've pretty much tried a lot--so I can give my 0.02 so you don't make co$tly mistakes. (Some may disagree--but this is my experience)
Shellac--pretty finish, but in my book NOT durable. It's the main ingredient of a lot of the friction finishes. Great shine right away, but dulls. Might yellow light woods. Any solvent or cleaner with alcohol will take it right off, so be careful.
Lacquer--also nice, but I find not too good for utility items like bowls that get a lot of use. Great for things that will sit on a shelf or wall. Solvent is a PITA. It did use to be my go to for light woods since it does not yellow.
Mineral oil--great for rolling pins, cutting boards, some bowls-- but has a price. It never cures and will need to be reapplied. I see it often mixed with beeswax. Both are food safe, Should be fluid resistant in a bowl.
Linseed oil--usually seen as BLO-boiled linseed oil: A little goes a long way, In my initial poly coat, I usually have some mixed in because it makes grain "pop". Some will use BLO as the only finish--foolish in my book, Yes it will make grain pop and darken the wood but may never cure and can actually go rancid. Whatever rags are used with it need to be disposed of properly--spontaneous combustion is real!! It happened in my shop! (No damage--but a scary learning experience)
Polycrylic-- now one of my faves. A little learning curve -- the first coat always needs to be sanded as it does raise nibs--after that it's gravy, Dries quick and is durable. It is really good for light colored woods when you do not want to darken the wood. No--cannot be mixed with BLO as this is water based; BLO solvent is paint thinner (water base and paint thinner don't misce ) , that's I think why it will raise nibs on wood.
CA finish- I don't use it much except on small items or peppermills/shakers, or other small stuff. Better in multiple coats and can be a pain to clean up. (Best advice---Don't use it on anything you can't move) I also use it with regularity to harden punky wood. This should work in your cereal bowl query.
Sanding Sealer- is usually dewaxed shellac. I've seen some use it for finish--pretty ho-hum in my book. All I use this for is hardening punky areas.
Epoxy-- I do use this occasionally when I need a really durable finish and have a good supply of patience, I will use it on the inside of urns (just don't trust end grain vessels). I have use it on platters and cake stands. I've only used 2 part mixes like the bartop formulas.. Long learning curve here.
I have not used Walnut or Teak oil.
Tung oil is a nice finish too, but takes longer to cure--not compatible with my ADD. I believe that's the main ingredient in Waterlox too. A bit pricy--more so than Polycrylic.

I know that some will take exception to some of my statements---but then that is the stuff of discussions
 
Last edited:

trc65

Member
Full Member
Messages
1,052
Reaction score
2,872
Location
Cameron, Illinois
First name
Tim
Great list and discussion David.

I would add one to your list, polymerized tung oil. Dries in about 8 hours instead of a week like regular tung oil. Darkens the wood like all oil based finishes, but is lighter than BLO. Usually 2-6 coats for me depending on wood and desired sheen. Easy to repair/ renew finish, just rough surface with a 3M pad and apply more.
 

David Hill

I collect & use Texas woods---but prefer Mesquite.
Full Member
Messages
2,598
Reaction score
4,675
Location
Cuero, Texas--Not far from the Third Coast
First name
David
Great list and discussion David.

I would add one to your list, polymerized tung oil. Dries in about 8 hours instead of a week like regular tung oil. Darkens the wood like all oil based finishes, but is lighter than BLO. Usually 2-6 coats for me depending on wood and desired sheen. Easy to repair/ renew finish, just rough surface with a 3M pad and apply more.
Have seen that, just haven't tried yet.
Would you believe that I think this was my first viewing in this area-- in a while???
had started out as short reply--will watch this one more often.
Funny what happens when eyes are open.....
 
Last edited:

DKMD

Sawbones
Staff member
Administrator
Global Moderator
Full Member
Forum Moderator
Messages
10,669
Reaction score
16,075
Location
Enid, Oklahoma
First name
David
I tend to use a wax and mineral oil finish for utilitarian stuff. Some of them are wax and walnut oil, and they work too.

Sometimes I’ll use one of the faster drying oil/varnish blends like Minwax Antique oil first and then use the wax finish over the top.
 

barry richardson

Moderator
Staff member
Global Moderator
Full Member
Messages
8,690
Reaction score
13,164
Location
Buckeye AZ
First name
Barry
Mike Mahoney, a well known production turner who specialize in bowls, swears by walnut oil, but of course he sells Mahoneys Walnut Oil, so take it for what it's worth....
 

Jason Goodrich

Member
Full Member
Messages
43
Reaction score
102
Location
Portland, OR
First name
Jason
Walnut oil is nice because you can pick it up at the grocery store.

lately I have been using some Osmo hard wax oil. It has been great.
 

Tom Smart

Member
Full Member
Messages
2,528
Reaction score
5,574
Location
Leesburg, VA
First name
Tom
Walnut oil is nice because you can pick it up at the grocery store.
Walnut oil from the grocery store and walnut oil manufactured to be used as a finish are not the same. I do not think the grocery variety is appropriate for use as a finish.
 

Jason Goodrich

Member
Full Member
Messages
43
Reaction score
102
Location
Portland, OR
First name
Jason
Walnut oil from the grocery store and walnut oil manufactured to be used as a finish are not the same. I do not think the grocery variety is appropriate for use as a finish.
What differences are you aware of? I have tried to find out what makes something like Mahone's oil different from a plain walnut oil and never found anything. I would honestly like to know if there is some significant difference.

There are a lot of us who use grocery store walnut oil with great success.
 

Tom Smart

Member
Full Member
Messages
2,528
Reaction score
5,574
Location
Leesburg, VA
First name
Tom
During the AAW Virtual Symposium Mike Mahoney had a tour of his shop and a Q & A session. He was asked about his walnut oil and the process to make it. He would not discuss the full process other than to say it is heat treated. It will not go rancid and not affect people that may have a nut allergy. Dr’s Woodshop also has a walnut oil finish.
 

Jason Goodrich

Member
Full Member
Messages
43
Reaction score
102
Location
Portland, OR
First name
Jason
I have been meaning to ask Dr. Meredith, since he is in my turning club.
I use La Tourangelle roasted walnut oil. The "roasted" aspect is close enough to heat treated for me.
 
Top