Resources

Walnut Oil

My walnut oil is 100% high linoleic acid walnut oil developed for woodworkers who want a non-toxic alternative to petroleum based polymerizing oils. What makes the oil unique is its ability to dry. I source my oil from trees in Northern California which are naturally high in two key fatty acids that help the oil polymerize. This is absent in culinary walnut oils. I also heat-treat the oil to remove the proteins that may cause allergic reactions to those predisposed to them.

I recommend my oil to be used for wooden articles that make contact with food (butcher blocks, salad bowls, kitchen utensils) but can also be a substitute for many wooden items (children’s toys, indoor counter tops and even hardwood floors). I also offer a food safe oil/wax blend made from my walnut oil blended with carnauba and beeswax. This is used for any wax project where the user doesn’t want to be exposed to petro distillates. My products are sold in all Woodcraft stores, Craft Supplies USA, Rockler, Klingspor, Packard, and many other independent outlets.

Bowl Care

Mike Mahoney’s bowls are a great kitchen utensil, and can be used to serve food such as pasta, salad, popcorn, and fruit. After use, simply hand wash with warm water and mild soap, then let it air dry. Please do not soak it in water or put it into the dishwasher or the microwave. Occasionally recondition with walnut or mineral oil. With proper care, this bowl will last for generations. Learn more about Mahoney’s Fine Finishes.

Wood Selection

Much of Mike’s wood comes from urban landfills. He uses ash, maple, American elm, myrtle, walnut, locust, box elder, and other varieties.

What is an urban landfill tree? These are the trees that have been removed from parks, easements and public properties around our towns. When trees become too old, too large, or diseased, they are removed due to hazard. The trees are then disposed of at a green waste site. They usually become firewood, pulp, or mulch. Sometimes they are left to rot. Mike salvages these trees and recycles them into beautiful, functional bowls.

Mike chooses his wood very carefully, selecting wood that is free of defects. He also selects wood that is highly figured.

The Process

After retrieving the wood, it is then transported to the shop and rough turned to a specific thickness (depending on the diameter of the bowl). These rough turned bowls are then dried for six months to one year depending on tree species. After the drying process, the bowls are remounted on the lathe and finish turned. For a more detailed explanation, see Mike’s video Heirlooms: Making Things that Last.

Bowl Quality

What makes a Mike Mahoney bowl the best?

– Wood without defects. I choose only the best wood for quality bowls.
– No cracks. Wood that has cracked over time is usually due to poor wood selection by the craftsperson.
– Lifetime Guarantee. I will replace any bowl that becomes damaged with normal use (see Bowl Care).
– Proper size ratio and design. My bowls are stable for serving while exemplifying classic style.

Ideas on Finishing

A simple way to think about finishes is to put them into two separate categories. Film based and penetrating oils. Films would be finishes that sit on top of the surface of the wood. Lacquers, polyurethanes, shellac, waxes, and varnishes are all versions of film finishes. These finishes have many different attributes including durability, reparability, toxicity, marketability, and skill required to apply them.

To simplify when and where to use these finishes I generally think these finishes are more suitable for objects of art as compared to items of utility since these finishes are more difficult to repair and require a skilled craftsperson to maintain them. Penetrating oils would be nut oils like Mahoney’s walnut oil, linseed, Tung, mineral oil, and vegetable oils. These oils go into the surface of the wood and enhance most woods while protecting from the inside.

Oil finishes are much easier to apply than film based finishes and you can expect anyone could replenish the finish. Nut, linseed, and Tung oils will actually harden and become part of the wood. Mineral oil and vegetable oils will evaporate and require more reapplications. All oils darken the wood and some even discolor over time. Tung and linseed oil oxidize to a yellowish hue that could be undesirable on a lighter wood. Walnut oil oxidizes to an amber hue and in my opinion enhances the look of the wood in the years to come. Mineral oil doesn’t color much at all except on the initial application.

Directions on how to use my oil:

Apply one heavy coat and let sit for an hour and then wipe away any excess. Your item is now ready to go. If the item begins to look dry over time reapply another coat.

If you would like more information on this subject please contact me.