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Hello all and Happy New Year,

I'm new at posting on a forum so please bear with me. I was at a craft show recently with a few lady friends. One exhibitor was selling some spurtles and hand carved spoons. So of course I was told by my company to make some for them and a few of their friends. So my question is since the spurtles will be functional being used in hot or cold liquids, what would be the best wood to use, cherry, ash, maple,.... How about what finish should I apply if any or soak it in oil. Turning the spurtle is simple and I'd like for them to last a while.
Thanks. Glenn
 

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There is a principle in physics called Charles' Law. This predicts that warmed air will expand and move out of the wood. As the wood & remaining air cool, the air contracts, sucking food juice into the wood.
With the help of bacteria and fungus, the food juice decomposes. Like the bottom of a compost heap, this is why many old wooden spoons look black.

Any room temperature application of oil will get blown out into the first hot pot you stir. Food juice again.

Preheat your oven to 350F. On a cake rack over a sheet pan, paint your kitchen tools with olive oil.
Into the oven fro 3 minutes by the clock. Charle's Law predicts that as the wood cools and the remaining wood air contracts, the hot oil will be pulled far further into the wood than any room temp application. Simple fact.

It's physics, nothing to do with me. Inside the wood, there is so little air anyway that the notion of the oil going rancid is not true at all.

I carved approx 75 spoons and prep forks with that finish. In my own kitchen with near daily use, a hot water rinse is good enough. Think about this: to get the oil to move in my tools, they must be heated to at least 350F again.

Wood choice: it has to be a toss-up between durability and reasonable ease of carving. I have access to a great quantity of top grade, clear & straight-grained birch, 5/4 and 6/4. In about 90 minutes, I can finish a $0.20 blank as a kitchen tool which does sell (slowly) for $12.00.
 

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Old School
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We have an introduction section where you can say a few words about yourself. If you fill out your profile in your "User Control Panel", you can list any hobbies, experience or other facts. You can also list your general geographical location which would be a help in answering some questions.

IMO, Beech would be my choice. You could also use Bamboo, Osage Orange, or Olive Wood. Use a continuous treatment with mineral oil.










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Discussion Starter #6
Robson and Cabinetman,

Thanks for the response and good suggestions. I intend on trying a couple different woods to see which works best for me. That heat treatment sounds interesting and i might give it a go.
Thank you
 

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There's one real advantage to what I've learned to do:

From beginning to end, that finish is complete in 5 minutes.
As soon as that stick is cool enough to hold, it is done for good.
You can use it straight away, it won't change (almost a year in my kitchen).

Just remember: resist the temptation to grab one when it comes out of the oven.
That stick is as hot as picking french fries out of the oil with your bare fingers.
Promise yourself.
 

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OK, I learned two things.

1. I never before heard of a spurtle. I had to Google it. Must be a shortage of Scots here in the Pacific Northwest.

2. The trick of coating with oil, then baking briefly to drive the oil into the wood sounds intriguing. I carve spoons from time to time. I'll try that out.
 

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I would like to give credit to how/where/who I got that from.
I cannot remember, forgive me. Seems ideally suited to the top quality birch
that I get to play with. $0.20 blank. 90 minutes work. $12.00 sale.

It's physics which trumps anything that you can do at room temperature.
I don't care where you bought your finishing chemistry from.
You cannot beat Charles' Law. At RT, then into hot food, your work is ruined.
That, in itself, seems a shame to waste the your time, your money and your material.
The wood feels soft and warm and easy to hold.
 

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Robson Valley - Does the heating method you described work with other oils besides olive, such as food safe mineral oil?
 

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You guys have great information,thanks,cherry wood was mentioned I have a lot of cherry wood I could use for a wooden spoon would you use that type of wood for one.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
sgmdwk,

I also never heard of a spurtle before i went to the craft show. That's what's good about these threads, sharing and learning. I always find helpful hints and tips on various forms. I might try the heat method with mineral or tung oil or maybe both to see if there's a difference. Thanks all.
 

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Cherry makes great spoons. I have carved several from limbs I pruned off flowering cherry trees in our yard.

I tried out the oven trick on a pair of spoons I carved from a chunk of a birch stump. It worked great. As the oil-coated spoon cooled, all the oil was drawn into the fibers.
 

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The oven-baked finish will work with any oil. The deal is the hot air moving out, then cooling and contracting, that's pulling the oil down into the surface wood.

Any oil finish that you apply at room temperature may "look" like it soaked in. Clarles' Law predicts that it will get blown out, ahead of the warm wood air, in the first hot thing you stir. No guessing or speculation on my part at all.

As a note added in proof, have you noticed that old wooden spoons go sort of blackish? That's old food juice, sucked into the wood, which has been decomposing in there for years.

Last night: My big 3-tined "frankenfork." Stirred the rice as it got going. Stirred up the honey-hoisin-garlic sauce in a medium hot pan. Stirred the prawns to a boil in salted lime water. Peeled the prawns (gave 1 to the cat) and stirred the rest of them into the sauce. Hot water rinse and the fork is clean.

The forks are make up with 4 tapered tines, one at each corner of
the blank. As I was shaping one with wood carving tools, SPROIIIING! and the tine popped off. So I smoothed that out and kept it for myself. In 8-12 months use, I think it's actually better with 1 corner missing.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
So I tried the heat method on 2 spurtles I turned last night and a spoon I carved and had not treated yet. I used olive, mineral, and walnut oil just to see if i'd notice a difference. Got a dirty look from the wife when I grabbed her olive oil. They all did well so i'll stick with what I have in my shop, mineral and walnut. That decision will also keep the wife off my back about her olive oil. I gave it two heat treatments each about 15 minutes apart. So Robson, are you saying during the first usage some of the oil will leak out? Or did I read your comment wrong.

Also Robson, sounds like a very tasty meal you're creating there.

Thanks again Robson!!
 

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WARNING!!!! If your selling these be aware ALOT of people are being diagnosed with nut type allergies and a they can be deadly!!!....I'd stay with Olive or mineral oil for safety reasons (and liability also).
 

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Thanks for the tip, TT. Like trying to sell a cheese cutting board with peanut oil on it.
"Take that thing back home."

Urban: One treatment is all I have ever used. Curious to know if you saw any end grain bubbling, just out of the oven after #2. The only way that I've seen any of the oil "leak: out was when I wrapped a stick in paper = capillary action? Like oil spreading in a paper knapkin, maybe?

I've just mailed off 5 sets of sticks (spoon & fork) as gifts. Wrapped each pair in plastic kitchen wrap.

Let SWMBO have her olive oil. Buy your own!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
No end grain bubbling. I'll probably stick with one application. And she told me the same thing, buy your own! Tim, I thought about the nut alergy this morning and had that conversation with my wife so I decided to stick with mineral oil. Thanks for bringing that up.
 
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