November, 2013

Wood in the Kitchen – Torture Test Two

I am in the middle of another torture test to see what treatments best survive kitchen use.  Here is my cunning plan - updated to reflect the progress of testing: http://elementalforge.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/WoodKitchen2013.html Updates 12/8/13 - adding Coconut Oil & getting started... 12/11/13 - also added 2 other treatments - 4 of the 20 are now done (ready to test, that is). 12/21/13 - done with the first round (see photos at the end of the list below). Interesting note: In my first kitchen torture test in 2011 I used Loctite E-120HP epoxy to glue the blocks to the steel straps. After 3 rounds (11 treatments - one Oak and one Cherry block each) 3 of the 11 Cherry blocks had popped off the steel - all of which showed signs of warping. This time I used West System G/Flex and after the FIRST round 36 of the 40 Cherry blocks popped off - with no noticeable sign of warping. And in most cases the glue remnant stayed with the wood - not the steel?!? So I re-sanded the block bottoms and the steel to 120 grit and re-glued with G/Flex - being more precise with my mix ratio (I used calibrated syringes this time) and we'll see how the 2nd round goes. 12/16/13 - third cycle is done - my notes (the link above and table below) have been updated. Simple vegetable/seed/nut oils are holding their own. Permalyn is starting to fade - I did not do the Permalyn Sealer coats this time as they are noted as optional before using Permalyn Gun Stock Finish - but from now on I will consider them required. One more block fell off (with the glue releasing from the steel) - so my experience is that Loctite E-120HP epoxy is superior to West Systems G/Flex. 12/28/13 - Fourth cycle done. Six blocks have now fallen off - all released from the steel and stuck to the treated wood. 12/30/19 - Fifth & final cycle is done. The full chart is updated (see link at the beginning of this post) - and the brief version below is updated.

My Take-Away

Kitchen vegetable oils are real contenders. They are obviously food-safe (barring individual allergies). Canola came in last in this group. I'd put Walnut and Coconut first. I gather Coconut is all the rage these days - and if you gave out a little container with a "hand rub in when shine fades" note I think you've got a winner. Tung, Linseed, and Linseed mixes: I'm not impressed by straight Tung or Linseed oil, though Tung is the nicer of the two. Dragon's Blood mix (artist quality cold pressed linseed oil) wins. I'll put Waterlox second, with Watco Teak Oil and Tried & True Original tied for third place. Waterlox held up as well as the kitchen vegetable oils but I'd hesitate to call it or the teak oil "food safe". I give the Dragon's Blood mix a slight edge on the kitchen oils. In the Wax On-Wax Off group of treatments, I'll pick Bee's Wax/Carnauba/Mineral Oil (BCM) for first - with Bee's Wax/Mineral Oil (BMO) coming in close behind.  Tried & True Original should also be mentioned in this group - I'd give it a close third. In the final group - let's call them Not-In-The-Kitchen Treatments - Johnson's Floor Wax and Meguiar's Gold Class Carnauba Wax Plus both came through five cycles of the test almost unchanged. They did not darken the wood and ended up with as much luster as the kitchen oils (though they started out a bit less shiny). Tru-Oil came through with as much luster as the Dragon's Blood mix - with Permalyn close behind (I really should have done the Permalyn Sealer pre-coats). The Wipe-On-Urethane didn't do badly but I'd put it at the tail end of this pack. So where does that leave it? You can choose your own favorites, but given my personal leanings, I'm liking Coconut Oil for it's health market cachet and ease with which the customer can do touch-up. Dragon's Blood is worthy and a little better than coconut oil - and who can resist the name? So I'll keep it in my tool kit. I'll also keep Bee's Wax/Carnauba/Mineral Oil in my bag of tricks. For non-kitchen knives, I'm going for the gun stock treatments - I'm keeping both Tru-Oil and Permalyn in my tool kit - but really, the Dragon's Blood mix did just as well... so as I run out of Tru-Oil & Permalyn I expect to phase in Dragon's Blood mix for non-kitchen knives. Here's my final take on the various treatments (see the link above for the full chart and notes):
Treatment 1st Cycle 2nd Cycle 3rd Cycle 4th Cycle 5th Cycle
Canola Oil Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, very little luster. OK, very little luster.
Safflower Oil Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Walnut Oil Good, some luster. Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Coconut Oil Good, some luster. Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Tung oil Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, very little luster. OK, very little luster.
Linseed Good, a little luster. Mikey doesn't like. Dull. Mikey doesn't like. Dull. Mikey doesn't like. Dull. Mikey doesn't like. Dull.
Watco Teak Oil Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. Mikey doesn't like. Getting dull. Mikey doesn't like. Getting dull. Mikey doesn't like. Fairly dull.
Waterlox Original Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Linseed-Shellac Good. Some luster/sheen. OK, a little luster. Mikey doesn't like. Getting dull. Mikey doesn't like. Getting dull. Mikey doesn't like. Fairly dull.
Linseed-Spar Urethane-Turpentine Good. Some luster/sheen. Good. Some luster/sheen. Mikey doesn't like. Getting dull. Mikey doesn't like. Getting dull. Mikey doesn't like. Dull.
Linseed-Carnauba Wax-Trupentine Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, very little luster. Mikey doesn't like. Fairly dull.
Linseed-Bee's Wax Good, some luster. Good, some luster. Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Dragon's Blood Nice. Good luster. Nice. Good luster. Nice. Good luster. Good, some luster. OK, a little luster.
Bee's Wax-Mineral Oil OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, very little luster.
Bee's Wax-Carnauba Wax-Mineral Oil Nice. Good luster. Nice. Good luster. Nice. Good luster. Good, some luster. OK, a little luster.
Johnson's floor wax OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Meguiar's carnauba plus OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Permalyn Nice. Good luster. Good, some luster. Starting to fade - I really should have done the sealer coats. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Tru-oil Nice. Good luster. Nice. Good luster. Nice. Good luster. Good, some luster. OK, a little luster.
Urethane Good, some luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster. OK, a little luster.
Progress photos (updated after 5th and final torture cycle):