Once we have carved our spoon and we want to use it, it is important to apply some finishing to protect the wood.
A good wax and oil based finish will help extend the life of our hand-carved utensils.
In this post we will learn how to make our own natural finish with beeswax and oil.
Do you want to learn how to carve a spoon? Start here.
How to make a natural oil and wax based finish
What kind of oils to use
Personally I have used Coconut oil or Mineral Oil. These are the ideal characteristics of oils for this purpose and some recommended types.
- Must be natural oils with no additives that may be toxic.
- It’s best if they have no smell or strong taste.
- Don’t use any vegetable oils with possible vegetable residue which will go rancid with time like Olive oil.
- It’s best if its clear, it will affect the color of the wood.
- Polymerized or Raw Linseed Oil (Boiled contains potentially toxic hardeners)
- Mineral Oil
- Refined Coconut Oil (Not cooking oil)
- Jojoba Oil
- Walnut oil
If you know any other or have a particular experience, please share it in the comments.
The most used oils for wood are: Linseed, Tung and Walut oil. Theses oils share a characteristic and that is that they are setting oils or polymerizing oils that create a solid layer in the wood when they dry, which is ideal for protection.
Other oils don’t solidify and tend to just fade away with use.
What kind of wax to use
Personally, I prefer using beeswax pearls. You can get them in natural cosmetics stores or specializes stores. You can also contact local Beekeepers.
The recipe is very simple and consists of heating the wax and oil in a 2:1 ratio over a water bath.
For example, if we use 100 grams of beeswax we must add 200 grams of oil. In other words, it is ⅔ oil and ⅓ wax.
We put both ingredients in a can or pot, in a water bath so it is not in direct contact with the fire as they are highly flammable.
Stir constantly while melting so that the wax is completely diluted in the oil.
Once we turn off the fire we can keep stirring so that the wax doesn’t separate from the oil. When it has cooled and hardened, we can use a fork or any other utensil to pierce and soften the mixture until it has the consistency of a balm.
We can now store it in recycled containers and keep properly covered.
Applying the finish
Make sure your spoon is completely dry before applying anything.
Spread a small amount of the balm over the entire surface of the spoon using your fingers. The warmth of your hands will make it penetrate the wood better. Remember to wash your hands very well before doing that.
Depending on the oil you have used, you will have to wait for it to dry between one day or even weeks. For example, linseed oil can take several weeks to cure. To shorten the drying time you can pre-polymerize it in sunlight before using.
If you are not interested in making your own and you prefer to buy it, you can buy some of Emmet’s Spoon Balm.