How To Restore Wood Bowls

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I love collecting old wood bowls, but typically find them in despair.  So whether you collect vintage wooden bowls or have a set you've neglected, in five simple steps you can take it from drab to fab!  I started with this Munising Salad Bowl:
It was extremely dry and lacked luster, but I liked it's simplicity
 and knew with a little tlc it could be a beautiful piece. 
1.  Wash with warm water and a mild dish detergent.  
*Never soak the piece for too long*  
Rinse with warm water when finished.
2.  Use a dishtowel to dry off any excess water, 
then leave the piece to air dry fully.
3.  For stains and minor scratches mix course salt and lemon juice 
to form an exfoliating paste.  
4.  Rinse again in warm water, dry with a dishtowel and allow to fully air dry.
5.  Take a soft cloth and apply food safe mineral oil to your wood bowl ~ applying in circular motions.  Continue to add mineral oil until the piece no longer absorbs it.  If the wood is extremely dry you may want to apply mineral oil a couple more times over the next few days.
Don't you love how the wood grains begin to pop and the color...gotta love the color!
To maintain clean when necessary and apply food safe mineral oil when needed.


  1. Michelle, love your explicit directions and great photographs for restoring wooden bowls. I do not have any to restore, but I've seen some I like at flea markets that needed restoring. Now I can consider them with your help from Iron and Twine. JW

  2. what brand of food grade mineral oil do you use?

  3. I’ve been searching for some decent stuff on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan!..
    meuble ancienne

  4. If you like wooden bowls, you should check out Twisted Arrow Goods! Beautiful, handmade wooden bowls.

  5. I just inherited a couple of non painted Munising bowls from my mother in law. They have a lot of greasy buildup on them, what is the best way to clean this off without harming the wood?

    1. I just read where you can clean the greasy, sticky buildup on wooden bowls by this method;
      Preheat your oven to 275, then turn the oven OFF.
      Place the bowl upside down, on a rack, in a foil lined cookie sheet or shallow pan.
      Put bowl in the oven and leave it for a couple of hours.
      The buildup should “melt” off to the point of being able to wash off. Repeat if necessary.
      I have not tried this method. I think I would make sure the bowl was still slightly warm when I washed it. I wouldn’t want the buildup to re-solidify.

  6. Thanks for the information on cleaning wood bowls. I turn bowls on a lathe and have been asked many times how to clean them. I will now be better able to pass on your information along with your web site address.

  7. Would you be able to use rock salt instead of course salt - I have rock salt on hand

  8. Hi, not a comment/reply, but I wanted to thank you for this info. I have just found a ton of old wood bowls that really need all your tips for cleaning. It's been a long time but after I clean and let dry I will be rosemaling them and hopefully selling. Thank you again. Cat/lakotatilestudio


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