Washable Finish

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Forum topic by Quailguy posted 07-08-2018 08:46 PM 444 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Quailguy's profile


63 posts in 1611 days

07-08-2018 08:46 PM

A local BBQ caterer asked me to finish 2 wooden eating utensil boxes for his business. These are roughly 16”x12” and 6” deep. The issue is that after an event, these boxes are greasy and have BBQ sauce on them from messy customers. He does not want them painted, but still needs to be able to clean them between events. He’s been bleaching the raw wood for years and it looks like it. Can anyone recommend a finish that is washable, durable and will keep its finish for a while?

Thanks to all

10 replies so far

View jonah's profile


2075 posts in 3718 days

#1 posted 07-08-2018 08:49 PM

I’d use a gloss urethane or varnish product. They’re generally good safe when fully cured (after a couple weeks, usually), and they’re durable as hell. Maybe a spar varnish?

View Quailguy's profile


63 posts in 1611 days

#2 posted 07-08-2018 08:54 PM

Thanks. I just started sanding on them and it looks like they’ve absorbed a lot of oil/grease in their lifetime. Will that affect the varnish or other finish?

View squazo's profile


124 posts in 2065 days

#3 posted 07-08-2018 11:00 PM

The grease might act simmilarly to exotic oily woods, which generally need to be wiped down with acetone prior to finishing.

View Rich's profile


4564 posts in 1009 days

#4 posted 07-09-2018 12:21 AM

It sounds like a crap shoot. I agree that their current state could affect how successful you’ll be trying to apply a durable finish.

Why is he so attached to these particular boxes? Seems like it might be time to have someone like you build new ones that can be finished properly.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View bilyo's profile


737 posts in 1522 days

#5 posted 07-09-2018 02:14 AM

As suggested above, I think I would wash it down with acetone or lacquer thinner. Let it dry and then put on a coat of de-waxed shellac. After that I would apply 2-3 coats of an oil base exterior paint with no tint added. Be sure to get the the deep base for darker colors, but don’t add the color. After applied, it will dry clear and will be as durable as any oil based paint. It should be food safe after fully cured. You might want to try this on a small area first to make sure it sticks.

View Lazyman's profile


3543 posts in 1807 days

#6 posted 07-09-2018 04:37 AM

I know that this forum is about woodworking but it sounds to me that they need to be made from something other than wood. Something that can be washed more easily.

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

View Quailguy's profile


63 posts in 1611 days

#7 posted 07-09-2018 01:01 PM

Thanks everyone. He’s had these boxes for years. They were made by a woodworker friend with half blind dovetail ends. For whatever reason, he loves them. I’ll try the acetone/laquer thinner approach and hope for the best.

View jonah's profile


2075 posts in 3718 days

#8 posted 07-09-2018 05:32 PM

I just noticed that my auto correct changed “food” into “good” in my earlier post. The finishes are generally food safe when fully cured.

I like the idea of a layer of shellac under the eventual finish. Personally, I’ve never used oil based paint without the pigment, but I’m skeptical it’s really more durable than a good quality oil based urethane or varnish product. General Finishes products are my usual go to.

View Holt's profile


280 posts in 3048 days

#9 posted 07-09-2018 08:32 PM

What about epoxy?

-- ...Specialization is for insects.

View Quailguy's profile


63 posts in 1611 days

#10 posted 07-09-2018 08:57 PM

Never tried epoxy as a finish. Time for some research.


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