If you’ve seen my noggin, you know this post won’t be about hair care. Over the weekend, I finished the dry-stage carving of an ale bowl I had roughed out a couple months ago. I thought it might be a good opportunity to briefly discuss my oiling procedure.
The most important factor in finishing is the quality of the final cuts. A properly sharpened edge will leave a cleanly cut, almost burnished, surface behind.
Once the carving is done, I pour some flax seed (linseed) oil into the bowl, then dip my fingers right in and slather oil all over the bowl.
I’ve explored many rabbit holes regarding oil choice and all of that, and I know it is a subject with a depth and breadth beyond this post. One thing these natural oils have in common is a long curing time — potentially months. Time to turn up the heat.
I have found that heat drastically reduces the drying time of these oils. In the heat of summer, I place a newly oiled bowl in direct sunlight. We were treated to a beautifully sunny weekend but the sunlight is not intense enough now.
At other times of year, I’ll place a bowl in front of the fireplace or in a little light bulb kiln that I made for drying chair rungs years ago and I still use it for that occasionally. Based on a design by Jennie Alexander, It is simply a plywood box lined with foil-faced insulation board. There’s a sheet metal baffle above two porcelain fixtures. It is essentially an Easy-bake oven and the temperature can be controlled by varying the wattage of the bulbs. My wife even uses it for making yogurt. With two forty watt bulbs, it maintains a temperature of about 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit.
After a couple hours, I rub off or rub in any excess surface oil. Then, after a day or so in the box, I’ll begin with other coats, moving on to a blend of flax oil and beeswax.