How To Torture Woodenware

I am on vacation this weekend, but I thought I’d offer a post or two on my favorite topics. The first is on -how not to care for kitchen woodenware – Spoons, bowls, spatulas, and cutting boards.

Over the decades, I’ve sold enormous amounts of woodenware. Most of what I produce gets made from cherry and maple, hardwoods that can take a good bit of abuse before giving up the ghost. I have been fortunate to have] had very few complaints over the past three decades. But then I have a “test kitchen” and a brutal tester, my wife, who commits every atrocity on my spoons so I can design utensils that can take a beating.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. It just worked out that way.

So let’s start with the easy ways to destroy woodenware:

  • Immerse it, leave it immersed overnight, clean dry and repeat. Eventually, even the best spoon will cry, uncle.
  • Run it through the dishwasher; if this doesn’t work, repeat until it does. Heat and drying cycles are known destroyers of cutting boards and spoons, which split and dry out.
  • Microwave. Watch the wood first boil and then possibly explode. A fascinating way to render a wooden spoon useless; and potentially a STEAM experiment for a student. 
  • If traditionally finished with oil and wax, refuse to recoat with a protective mineral oil coat. It will dry out and get grey first, but if you use any of the above destructive methods. It will eventually self-destruct.
  • It desperately needs recoating, so you recoat it with something that will go rancid. You will toss this one out before you’ve destroyed it, because the odor or taste is so foul.

These are some of the primary ways of destroying woodenware. There are others. I knew a man who tried to return a spoon at a show after using it to wedge open jars. I hate to think about what happened to the jars, but I laughed him out of the booth. 

You can comment on your favorite ways of destruction in the comment section below. In the next installment, I’ll explain how I make and finish things. I’ll also add my tips on keeping them in good condition.

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