Need help with a finish

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Forum topic by Erikthered posted 06-13-2016 09:04 PM 791 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1275 days

06-13-2016 09:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish food safe

He’ll I need some help with a finish. I am still kinda new to woodworking and I understand most finishes but I don’t understand the different non toxic ones. I am starting to make things like cups and bowls that will be used on a frequent basis. And I’m looking for a finish that is safe that my customers do not have to re-apply all the time. I have seen this one mug on YouTube where they claim they used an acrylic finish.

But I am unable to find a good acrylic that claims it is non toxic.

Please help
Erik (Redbeard)

3 replies so far

View brtech's profile


1066 posts in 3485 days

#1 posted 06-13-2016 09:22 PM

There are a lot of threads here on LJs about this. The bottom line is that all the standard film finishes, including varnishes and both water and oil based polys are safe when fully cured. But there is no standard or test or certification for woodworking finishes that you can actually rely on.

The generally accepted safest finish is shellac, which is actually used on food, but shellac is not a hardy finish.

I’d suggest just using poly. Just make sure it’s fully cured (check the label) before you sell it.

You apparently get that the easiest food safe finish is mineral oil or “salad bowl finish”, but that is even less protective of the wood then shellac.

I just went through this for a crib I’m making for my first grandchild. For a while, I was going to use some expensive exotic finish intended for children’s furniture. In the end, the only difference is low or near zero VOC, and that isn’t a long term problem (repeat the “fully cured”).

View Woodknack's profile


12945 posts in 2942 days

#2 posted 06-14-2016 06:59 AM

Erik I don’t know the answer, haven’t figured it out yet, but I suspect the Norwegians have figured it out since they’ve been doing it a long time and I believe they make the cups from green-ish wood and boil in salt water. That’s what I will try next.

I tried an acrylic lacquer: gave it 3 thick coats and allowed to dry until I could no longer smell anything (a long time) and it failed quickly. Shellac fails even faster. Haven’t tried polyurethane. Most recommend epoxy but I don’t really want to eat or drink from epoxy coated wood so I haven’t tried that. They say any finish is food safe once fully cured but “they” have told us lots of things that turned out to be dead wrong.

-- Rick M,

View Lazyman's profile


4190 posts in 1950 days

#3 posted 06-14-2016 01:06 PM

One option is to find glass or stainless liners that you can put inside cups and mugs to minimize the impact that liquids have on them and the impact the finish has on the the lquids. You might have to design your vessels around the liners you are able to find but it allows you to use tougher finishes without worrying about poisoning your customers.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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