Food Safe Finishes for Wooden Bowls and Wood Cutting Boards

We like mineral oil and beeswax best for non-toxic finishes for wood bowls, cutting boards and kitchen utensils.  Easy to apply, widely available and affordable.  Enough said? View full article →

Cherry Wood Through The Eyes of a Wood Turner

A Bowl Turner Polishes a Cherry Wood BowlCherry is a premium American hardwood prized for its natural luster, attractive grain, and rich, warm glow. New Hampshire Bowl and Board works in cherry harvested from recycled furniture scrap and urban forests of New England. This wood has a consistently high quality of grain, color, and width. We also accept orders to make our bowls and boards in other domestic hardwoods, including Maple  and Black Walnut. Until the worldwide rainforest situation improves, we have elected not to work with imported woods.
Like all fruit trees, cherry belongs to the rose family and was used as early as 400 B.C. by the Greeks and Romans for furniture making. Cherry helped define American traditional design because Colonial cabinetmakers recognized its superior woodworking qualities. Today, cherry helps define Shaker, Mission and country styling. The wood from the cherry tree can be described in a single word: beautiful. Its rich red-brown color deepens with age. Small dark gum flecks add to its interest. Distinctive, unique figures and grains are brought out through quarter sawing. It has an exceptionally lustrous appearance that glows. The finish is satiny to the touch.
Due to a natural photosynthesis process caused by natural sunlight and oxidation the cherry wood will darken as it ages. After a period of time it will reach a warm reddish chestnut patina. This maximum colorization will vary from tree to tree. Cherry ranges from pale yellow to light reddish brown and often have darker areas of burl, which add character and contrast to the wood. These areas of burl or mineral deposit streaks are not defects; they are natural characteristics of cherry wood. Cherry is a hardwood but it is not as hard as oak or maple; it will scratch or dent if subjected to misuse. But due to cherry's unique colorization process the scratch or dent will color up to match the surrounding wood and will blend in quite nicely. Upon receiving a piece of new natural cherry furniture it is advised to rotate lamps or centerpieces as the area that is covered by the lamp will not darken as quickly as the exposed wood will. If this occurs remove the lamp and place the item near a sunny window the lighter area will quickly disappear.

Why We Use Maple Wood

When we think of Maple, we think of woodenware. The extremely hard, tough surface of Maple will take on a higher polish as it is subjected to wear and use. This is one reason why it is a remarkable material for woodworkers.

Naturally light in color, Maple is the choice for light finishes. The grade known as White Maple, when finished with shellac alone or with beeswax, makes a truly beautiful finish which cannot be duplicated by any other wood. Sometimes Maple is bleached before finishing making it even whiter. And Maple, of course, is much used for furniture, especially the curly and the bird's-eye Maples. For floors which are subject to much traffic, maple has no equal.  You'll find Maple in school gym floors, dance floors, kitchens, bedrooms, halls, hand turned wood bowls and wooden kitchen boards.

Maple is a close-grain, very hard, fine-textured, tough and strong wood. The sapwood is very light in color, while the heartwood is a light brown. The grain figure is subdued but beautiful and quite uniform and interesting as well.

All Maple is light in color, but the white, clear grade is especially light. It is the sapwood from the outside of the log, winter-sawed and end piled in sheds to prevent staining. It is ivory white and the finest grade of maple flooring and lumber produced. Birch floors and trim give an airy, cheerful color to a room which reminds one of the northern forests where the best maple trees grow.

Maple is common to England, Central Europe and North America. Curly Maple is the wood which results from trees which have made a twisted growth and which peculiarity has been preserved by special methods of cutting the lumber. It has a curly, mottled figure quite similar to satinwood. Bird's-eye Maple is actually Sugar Maple. The peculiar bird's-eye knots are presumed to be the result of buds or shoots which formed in the wood but were unable to penetrate the hard, tough bark and thus come out to form branches. Sugar Maple when newly cut is a creamy white in color, but it darkens to a golden yellow with age. In finishing this bird's-eye maple the best practice is 'to put on a toner in the form of a water solution of tannic acid. This brings out the little eyes or knots interestingly. The toner is followed with a weak water stain.

Traditional wooden bowl producers in Vermont frequently worked in Maple.  They were the Weston Bowl Mill, The Bowl Mill also known as the Granville Bowl Company and Woodbury Bowl.

Today at New Hampshire Bowl and Board we choose Maple for wood bowls, especially our chop bowls and for salad servers.  Maple is also a preferred wood for many of our wooden spoons and kitchen utensils.  The straight grain, hardness and density of the wood make for a very fine product that will stand up to the wear and tear of a busy home cook.

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Bowls like this one were the specialty of the Weston Bowl Mill.


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