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How to Restore a Wooden Bowl

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Wondering how to restore a wooden bowl? I’m using a vintage teak bowl I got from my grandmother to show you how to easily refinish an old or thrifted wooden bowl to bring back its luster.

How to restore a wooden bowl using my grandma’s teak bowl as an example

Hey guys, popping in today for a quick tip post. This is one of those things I’ve been meaning to do forever and finally got around to a few weekends ago. Sometimes the fastest and easiest projects just take a backseat to bigger, more complicated projects. Are you the same?

Here is the bowl. It’s a Goodwood teak bowl I got from my grandmother when she was downsizing her home to move to a retirement community. I saw it and instantly loved it. The shape is gorgeous, and I loved the woodgrain. Plus I just love teak in all forms.

vintage teak bowl that needs restoring
vintage teak bowl that needs restoring
Bottom of a genuine goodwood teak bowl

Check out my tutorial on how to stain and finish wood as well!

So here’s what I used!

And here’s how to restore a wooden bowl using a conditioner!

Step 1: Thoroughly clean the bowl

The first step is to thoroughly clean the bowl in hot soapy water. Use a sponge to scrub the inside and out, then rinse. Let dry completely. I set mine out on the desk in the sun to dry. Even though it was chilly, it still helped to dry it more thoroughly and quickly.

vintage teak bowl that needs restoring
vintage teak bowl that needs restoring

For more quick tips, check out my posts about how to remove sticker residue from glasses and jars, how to drill a drainage hole in a ceramic pot, and how to remove old candle wax from a candle jar.

Step 2: Apply a mineral oil and wax mixture

I originally wanted to use straight food-grade mineral oil, but our Home Depot was out. Luckily they did have this nifty stuff, which is a mixture of food-grade mineral oil and beeswax. The beeswax helps to provide an additional layer of protection on the bowl.

This stuff can also be used on other wooden utensils and butcher block cutting boards. Super easy to use, too. Simply squirt some onto a clean, dry microfiber cleaning cloth and start rubbing it into the bowl. I was immediately impressed with how it deepened the color and helped the gorgeous grain pop.

Howard butcher block conditioner bottle to restore a wooden bowl
back of Howard butcher block conditioner bottle used to restore a wooden bowl
how to restore a wooden bowl with mineral oil and beeswax
Applying the mineral oil and wax mixture

Step 3: Let dry and buff

I applied to the entire bowl, inside and out, top and bottom. Then I let it sit for about 30 minutes. The mineral oil really penetrates the wood, while the beeswax can help to even out and smooth cracks. Both help to enhance and deepen the color of your bowl, as well as bring out the wood grain’s natural patterns and luster.

After 30 minutes, use a new dry microfiber cleaning cloth to wipe off any excess and buff the bowl all over. Depending on how much you applied to begin with, you might not have to do much for this step. I over-applied a bit, so I had a bit of buffing to do.

The first pic below is before buffing, and the third is after. And that’s it! It’s a stunning makeover that didn’t take too long at all—and you can use this stuff on a lot of different types of wood in the kitchen.

how to restore a wooden bowl with mineral oil and beeswax
how to restore a wooden bowl with mineral oil and beeswax
After buffing the polished wooden bowl

Other questions about how to refurbish wooden bowls and utensils

There are a few other things I want to address about this topic, mostly because they were questions I had, so I am thinking some of you might have them, too.

1. What is the best oil for wooden bowls?

I like food-grade mineral oil because it doesn’t have a color or smell. It’s easy to find and does the job well. Mixing it with beeswax or another similar wax really cleans the bowl up nicely.

However, raw linseed oil, walnut oil, and pure tung oil are also options. They are harder to find, though, making them less appealing for me. They also require some slight tweaks in steps to get a good finish (e.g., more coats, longer curing time, etc.). Whatever you use, make sure it is food-grade oil or wax.

how to restore a wooden bowl with mineral oil and beeswax

2. Can I use cooking oil to restore wooden bowls and utensils?

No, don’t use cooking oil to restore wooden bowls and utensils. It’s obviously food-safe, and it’s probably already in your kitchen, so I understand that it’s tempting! And it might make your items look nice right away, but cooking oils can go rancid after a certain amount of time.

Oils like coconut oil take a much longer time to go bad and are more resistant to going rancid, but they eventually can as well. Do yourself a favor and pick up something more stable and fool-proof to use 🙂

3. What can I use for a more permanent finish for my bowl?

I’ve read that shellac is a food-safe finish for wooden kitchen things. However, I don’t think I’d use this for something like a cutting board. I’d imagine that a sharp knife would cut into the finish and would be hard to refinish when the time comes.

Pin my tips about how to restore a wooden bowl!

pinnable graphic with images of a polished wooden bowl with text overlay about how to refinish a vintage wooden bowl
pinnable graphic with images of a polished wooden bowl with text overlay about how to refinish a vintage wooden bowl
pinnable graphic with images of a polished wooden bowl with text overlay about how to refinish a vintage wooden bowl

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