The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

wood finish for kneeding table

jmcrusty's picture

wood finish for kneeding table

I have a wooden kneeding table that is looking worse for wear (stains, scratches, etc.). I am wanting to completely sand down the top and refinish it and I obviously want the finish to be food safe, yet something that still allows me to wipe the wood off with a wet rag when it is dirty. Does anyone know the safest finish to use on wood that you kneed bread on? Thanks!

Paddyscake's picture

I wouldn't use any type of "finish"..


Kent's picture

This may be what you are looking for. it is a food grade finish used on salad bowls and cutting boards.

flournwater's picture

Most finishes are "food safe" once the solvent that keeps them fluid has evaporated. It's the solvent that's the biggest toxicity issue.  That said, I'd simply use a generous coating of Mineral Oil (the stuff your grandmother might have given you when you as a child when  you weren't "regular") which is what I've used for neary fifty years on all my wood cutting boards.

AndyM's picture

I'll echo previous comments that mineral oil is quite useful - in artisan bakeries where I've worked, the routine at the end of the day for the benches was as follows:

scrub down all the work-benches (i.e. wood surfaces which are mostly used for forming loaves) with dilute bleach solution, and paint (literally, with paint brushes) with mineral oil.  These benches took a beating daily, and were maintained daily.  They held up quite well.

jmcrusty's picture

Thanks for all of the help. From doing more research and taking your all's advice, I think I am going to sand down the top, use the 'salad bowl' finish on the stripped wood, and then make sure I continually use mineral oil for the upkeep of the finish.

flournwater's picture

The label on some salad bowl finishes will warn you that they are not for human consumption and can be fatal if taken internally.  Regardless of what you decide to use, be sure to read the label carefully to allow for the required drying time for the solvents to evaporate.  If you're using Beeswax salad bowl finish the mineral oil will not penetrate your wood beyond the barrier that the bees wax salad bowl finish sets up. so using mineral oil on top of that, at least in the beginning, probably won't do much good.

rayel's picture

I Keep thinking of the stains and varnishes I have cleaned up after, with mineral spirits, and am frightened off. For food use, anything that requires mineral spirits for clean up is suspect. I think I would stick to mineral oil. The thought of small traces of that salad bowl finish, even after curing, getting on food is too risky for me.  Ray

cady's picture

I just built a 6 foot countertop out of maple.  It is an important part of the kitchen I am building. I have been impressed with how much mineral oil ti soaked up. 


Som observations and info on oiling.

1.  First sand the top to get out scatches and even it out.

2.  Spray or wipe down the top with water.  The water will raise the grain.  Then sand the raised grain off once it has dried.  Why?  If you do not do this step you will get it wet some time and the grain will raise and you will find yurself sanding the top again anyway.

3. No need to go above 180 - 200 on the sanding.  It might seem nice to be real nice ans smooth, but once used it will have been wasted effort if you go beyond 180 - 200.  Even that is likely excessive.

4.  Heavy mineral oil is quazi safe.  You can get it at a pharmacy. True, it can be used for human consumption - used as a stool softner.  However, my advice is to use it only for countertops.  While it's viscosity minimizes the potential for getting some in your lungs and it is likely not absorbed, it is a petrolium distolate.  I really can not recommend it as a stool softener. 

5.  My countertop has soaked up a bunch.  Each night I would put on a new coat.  I put about 8 oz on prior to bring the counter into the house.  My wife recentaly re-oiled it and it soaked up another 8 0 12 ounces.  We kept a paint brush on the counter and would poor more on when ever we saw a dry spot.

6.  For the last ocat I mixed a little bees wax with the oil and heated the oil to melt the wax.  I then rubbed that on and rubbed it into the top. 

You might ask, if you do not think the oil is safe, why use it.  Well, it protects the counter from water and the little that might come off while working is likely minimal and likely of little consequences. 

Note:  going from thickest to thinest:  Vasoline, heavy mineral oil, light mineral oil. They are related just like different weight of motor oil.   Light mineral oil is used in baby oil.  I would ot use it because of the added perfune.  Vasoline would not soak in very will.  Light mineral oil if swallowed has an easier time getting into the lungs - a very bad deal.

Likely overkill.  But thought it might help

Good luck

Glass-Weaver's picture

You can buy mineral oil that is the same as human pharmaceutical grade at a veteraninarian pharmaceutical supply.  Just check your local yellow pages.  I was able to get a gallon for under $11.00 here.