Holiday Bowl Finish

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Forum topic by EricLew posted 11-28-2018 04:40 AM 626 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View EricLew's profile


274 posts in 2647 days

11-28-2018 04:40 AM

I am making Christmas bowls to give out as gifts using the templates from MLCS

They are large, so I don’t think people would put unwrapped candy or nuts in them, but I’m wondering if I should use a food safe finish, and if so which one would be best? I’m thinking Pure Tung Oil, or de-waxed Shellac. What would you guys suggest?


-- I love the smell of coffee in the morning, and sawdust in the afternoon

4 replies so far

View OSU55's profile


2891 posts in 3270 days

#1 posted 11-28-2018 12:55 PM

Any finish that cures will work – poly, nc or precat lacquer, waxed or dewaxed shellac, wb finishes, conversion varnish

View TheDane's profile


6017 posts in 4944 days

#2 posted 11-28-2018 01:19 PM

Shellac is food safe (you can actually eat it!) ... just not the most durable of finishes.

If these are for Christmas 2018, you need a finish that will cure/gas-off quickly.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View CaptainKlutz's profile


5013 posts in 2775 days

#3 posted 11-28-2018 03:10 PM

+1 any finish will work.

Sort of. FWIW :
I have not found any water based finish to be durable enough for direct food contact in party bowl and survive without damage.

Shellac gets messed up easily around any alcohol or ammonia. Works ok for candy only bowl, but not for snack food bowls.

Spray Lacquer is fast and easy. Couple of coats in single day, 2-3 days to out gas, and ready to gift. But I find it is not as durable as good oil finish. I’m a true klutz, and a lacquer coated bowl dropped on tile floor will craze/crack finish at impact point, which allows water intrusion. The oil based finishes are usually just dented wood. :-)

For my router bowls; I use either:

1) Behlen’s Salad Bowl Finish (Gloss) – Food safe polyurethane film finish. If use more than 2-3 coats, it can get sort of plastic looking. Protects my football shaped bowls from direct filling with spicy picante sauce. AND hand wash dunked in sink to clean up with zero damage after many years. Applies and ages like Arm-R-Seal, with maybe a little less yellowing as it ages.
Timing can be challenge this time of year. My December garage temps swing 40-70F, and I can lay down a fresh coat about once every 24 hours, with only 4-6 hours between 1st and 2nd if above 65F. Then will bring it inside where is warmer 24/7 for another day per layer of finish cure and to remove the solvent smell before wrapping or pack and ship. Failure to wait makes for bad presentation when gift is opened, or the wrappers of the candy you put in bowls will pick up the odor. So it takes a full week to apply finish and cure.

2) Tried and True Original Wood Finish (Satin)- Food safe BLO and Beeswax blend. 2-3 coats produces a warm finish that begs to be touched or handled. It is a rubbed on finish, that requires some extra work to apply. Again, can lay down 1 layer of finish about once every 24 hours, maybe 12 hours between layer 1-2. After the wood grain is sealed up with 3rd coat, adding additional layers of finish can take 2-3 days to full cure each one. As with SBF need to wait 1 day per layer of finish applied after last coat has cured to remove residual odor before you wrap it up and gift it. Original wood finish does not have a heavy solvent odor like SBF, and can be gifted a little sooner if not being wrapped as gift. The BLO in Orginal Wood Finish cures with oxygen and heat, so 110-120F convention oven (or large box with incandescent light bulb and fan inside) can push cure cycle to 3 coats in about 48-72 hours.

If you follow the mfg application directions, both of these work well for router bowls.
Have a couple of bowls in my projects as examples.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View EricLew's profile


274 posts in 2647 days

#4 posted 11-29-2018 02:05 AM

Thanks Guys, a lot of good options.

I appreciate the detail Captain! Thanks for taking the time to type all that

-- I love the smell of coffee in the morning, and sawdust in the afternoon

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