3 Easy Steps to Give New Life to an Old Wood Bowl

You don't have to be a world-class chef to appreciate the beauty and usefulness of an antique or vintage dough bowl but years of constant use can really take a toll on the wood, leaving it dried-out, scratched and stained. In just 3 steps, you can reverse decades of use and give new life to an old wood bowl.
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Wood bowls may be all the rage now but as a girl who grew up in the South with a world-class biscuit maker for a Mama, dough bowls — as we refer to them – are just part of the kitchen landscape. My mom has several, all family hand-me-downs and all round, not the oblong, trencher-style that you find when searching the term, "dough bowl" online.

To be honest, the only biscuits I've made came out of a can — but — I couldn't pass up buying this bowl when my mom and I found it at a thrift store for just $1. The wood was stained, scratched and missing all of its original finish but for just a buck, I couldn't really complain:

My initial idea was to refinish the bowl as I would any other old, wooden item by first sanding the wood then coating it with oil-based stain and polyurethane but, after a bit of research, I decided to restore the bowl the same way chefs keep their cutting boards looking new – and voila, much bettter, don't you think? 

Refinished Wood Bowl With Fruit

Refinished Wood Bowl With Fruit

Photo by: H. Camille Smith

H. Camille Smith

The process is really easy and pain-free — just 3 steps! Here's how you do it: 

Step 1

Thoroughly smooth the wood and remove any scratches or surface stains with sandpaper, working from coarse-grit to medium-grit to smooth-grit. Remove all sawdust and grit with a tackcloth or slightly damp rag.

Step 2

Liberally coat the bowl with food-grade mineral oil, really rubbing the oil into the parched wood.

Step 3

Wait a few hours for the wood to fully absorb the oil then enjoy your like-new bowl. Seriously, that's it! This project takes a little elbow grease but the results are well worth the effort.

Here's a side-by-side comparison that demonstrates how much richer the wood is with just a little TLC:

Best of all, you can keep your "new" old bowl looking great with another coat of mineral oil anytime the wood looks a little dry; sanding is only necessary again if your bowl becomes scratched or stained. 

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