Box Elder Bowl

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Project by GHaugen posted 11-11-2009 07:23 PM 1769 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Box Elder Bowl
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This is a 12” bowl I turned out of Box Elder. All of my bowls are “made to be used”. I usually add something decorative to the bowl. This one has a pronounced bead on the outside. Although the bead is decorative it’s also functional and aids with gripping the bowl. This is an “ok” example of the red fungus color that box elder is known for.

-- Greg H.-Chaseburg, WI.

9 comments so far

View lew's profile


12859 posts in 4263 days

#1 posted 11-11-2009 08:46 PM

Love the color and the bead around the outside!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3778 days

#2 posted 11-11-2009 09:09 PM

Great turning…love that stuff….I have some spalting on the pile now and can’t wait for it to be ready to go…

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3793 days

#3 posted 11-12-2009 01:51 AM

nice turning, makes me want to get back to my lathe.

-- John @

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3938 days

#4 posted 11-12-2009 04:37 AM

Great bowl. Boxelder is a favorite. Just havn’t had a chance to use it much yet.

Nice design. I like the ridge running along the edge.

What do you finish these with since they are food safe? I have some ” Georges Club House Wax” that I got from WoodCraft. Will buff up nice and is food safe.

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View GHaugen's profile


37 posts in 3638 days

#5 posted 11-12-2009 02:56 PM

I used to use Mahoney’s Salad Bowl finish which is a heat treated walnut oil. As the oil ages, rather quickly, it really darkens. I have a box elder bowl that I use and is about 2 years old. It’s the same color now as my elm bowls. Darkened quite a bit from the walnut oil. I’ve been using “Tried and True’s Danish Oil” from Woodcraft. It’s a polymerized linseed oil that dries, doesn’t darken and is food safe wet or dry. There are no thinners or driers in it so thin, ultra thin coats are the key to its use.

Just a side note, any finish is “food safe” once it’s cured. Lacquer is “food safe” but it could take up to 6 to 8 months to fully cure. There’s a finish company that sells a “Salad bowl finish” and states “it’s non-toxic when cured.” Dah, anything is at that point. They also have a different “top coat” product that sells for less than the SBF even though both have an identical MSDS sheet. They’re SBF is just a weakened varnish. I like the feel of wood, not a thick finish. I also sell A LOT of bowls and don’t want to wait months for it to be safe. I’ve turned bowls and shipped them the next morning. That’s why I like the oil finishes that are safe wet or dry. “Oil finished” bowls are also easier to maintain than a membrane finished bowl. After a while the bowl could need a light oiling after several washes. Even the best membrane finish will eventually break down and allow oil or food to get under it. I know a customer can simply wipe a little more oil on a bowl but thinking they’ll know how to add a coat of varnish or lacquer is doubtful.

So my finish choice, is one of “feel”, timing, and maintenance.

Hope that helps.

-- Greg H.-Chaseburg, WI.

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3706 days

#6 posted 11-13-2009 01:11 AM

Nice job, and nice explanation on the finish debate, I do like to use shellac though, but sometimes there are bowls I think will get handeled very often those get oil and bees wax.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3938 days

#7 posted 11-13-2009 08:37 AM

Thanks for the info. I can see why you use the oil finnishes. Sounds like a better choice.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4085 days

#8 posted 11-13-2009 08:54 AM

Very nice bowl looks great

View restored's profile


53 posts in 2600 days

#9 posted 04-27-2017 06:28 PM

Personally I love using walnut oil, especially on cherry bowls. It immediately brings out the subtle grain to a rich, warm, darker color, that people associate with the word cherry. Without the plastic finished look. Real cherry darkens with age and to that soft, warm look regardless of the finish. If it’s real cherry. Most pieces of furniture advertised and sold as cherry from the big chain stores, are not cherry, but a maple, birch or poplar with a CHERRY stain. A cherry stain is only a term. Walnut oil takes raw cherry right to the look 15 years after it has been made into a completed piece. However natural oils, like a walnut oil can become rancid and has a shelf life. Finding a product,(finish) to put over the walnut after it has had time to absorb into the wood, 100%, without creating that plastic look has been a issue for all wood workers and turners for decades. The challenge is finding the product to maintain the that rich soft luster, while protecting the wood so it can be used for food use. Some type of polymerized finish which includes additional types of oils will seal the wood and stop the natural nut oils from becoming rancid. If not sealed air and water exposure will in time allow the nut oils to do so. A wax finish does not stop this from happening either. The challenge lies with finding the finish that is applied over the various oils, without producing the plastic look. A wax with various types of oils mixed together, can achieve this, but there is a maintenance factor involved. Here on Lumberjocks one can find some very informative information about walnut oil, sesame oil and similar used in their natural state. Heating, and boiling does not remove the fact that the oil will become rancid. It is a proven scientific fact that this process begins happening, from the moment it has been processed. I believe it’s safe to say that all oils, when first applied to finished piece of most wood species, makes the piece come alive. The challenge is how to maintain it. Protecting the wood itself from changing in appearance, from the many elements it will be exposed to, and keeping that warm soft natural luster look. I am about to try some Tried and True for the first time, without walnut oil, on a small bowl turned out of lacewood to be used for a garlic bowl press, with a cherry pedestal. I’m using the polymiized linseed oil and natural resin type. In hopes of avoiding the plastic look, and the 3 to 4 day wait for the walnut oil to absorb into the wood before it is sealed with a oil product with hardeners. I’m sure this will open a whole new debate on this issue that has far more opinions than types of oils.
“Nothing is impossible to the man who doesn’t have to do it himself” restored, discussing pretty pictures with the job architect.

-- KRT

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