2024 Wooden Bowl Buying Guide & FAQs
What does #1 quality mean and how can I tell if my bowls is #1 quality?
This is a very important question - not all handcrafted wood bowls are the best quality you can find. While all the bowls sold by The New England Trading Company have been examined and identified as #1 quality by our artisans (unless specifically identified otherwise in our #2 quality shop), many other retailers sell #2 or #3 quality bowls without comment. These bowls will likely have more wood issues such as knots or fine cracks. Always ask for #1 quality when looking for a wood bowl to last a lifetime.
How are your bowls handcrafted?
Our wood bowls are the highest quality available, each handcrafted by skilled craftsmen using a single piece of premium hardwood.
To start, large logs are cut into manageable sections and then the appropriate shape and size to fit a large lathe. Repeated cuts on the lathe produce bowls from 17" across to 9" across.
To reduce scrap, cutting is planned so that the majority of wood from one block becomes a bowl. Bowls smaller than 9" are cut on a smaller lathe.
Once cut each bowl is dried on racks for 20-30 days. Once dry, they are hand sanded on the inside and outside, and a flat bottom is added.
Next, they are individually inspected and graded and wood bowls that pass inspection are hand rubbed with a natural food-safe preserver made of beeswax and mineral oil. This process enhances the grain and brings out a natural sheen.
The wooden bowl is placed on a drying rack and, once dry, is ready for your home.
Do your wood bowls have stains or chemicals?
Our wooden salad bowls are naturally beautiful and free of wood stains and chemicals. Their warm glow comes from the quality of their cut, wood species, sanding, and treatment with wood preserver.
How do I care for my wood bowl and do I need any special handling before first use?
Because your wood bowl has already been treated with our food-safe wood preserver you can use it right out of the box. Simply hand wash in warm water using a small amount of mild soap and a non-abrasive cloth. Hand dry.
How can I keep my wood bowl looking beautiful for years?
A little TLC goes a long way. Always hand wash and never, ever soak wood products in water or let water stand inside the bowl. Long exposure to water will warp or crack any wood bowl.
Never use the dishwasher or microwave or conventional oven. Don't leave in direct sunlight for long periods of time.
Do treat your bowl with our food-safe wood preserver occasionally (use it on all of your unfinished wooden bowls and utensils). All wood items need a protective coating to avoid drying out, cracking, and warping, and to avoid staining. When the wood appears dry or about every other month apply a coat of preserver as directed on the package. One tub will last you for years!
Never use vegetable oil to protect your wooden bowls and utensils, which builds up over time and can leave the wood tacky and rancid. Vegetable oil creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Will my wood bowl darken with age?
Yes, all wood bowls will darken over time. You'll enjoy a deeper, rich color if properly maintained.
Guide to Different Wood Species for Wood Bowls
What are different wood species for bowls?
Wood is know for its natural beauty and each species has its own unique set of characterisitics and variations in grain pattern, texture, and color.
Hardwoods are deciduous trees that have broad leaves and produce a fruit or nut. Popular North American hardwoods include cherry, maple, oak, honey locust, black walnut, birch and ash.
Each species can be crafted into long-lasting durable kitchenware, flooring, furniture and more. Softwoods, or conifers, include cedar, fir, pine, redwood, and spruce. These are primarily used as structural lumber.
Which hardwood should I choose for my bowl?
Since all of our bowls are made of hardwood high on the Janka Rating System (which measures the relative hardness of woods) you can be confident that yours will be durable and strong.
If you require the hardest of woods available, select Maple or Beech. We primarily use these woods for our Chopping Bowls since they can stand up to a lot of pressure.
For gifts, Cherry or Maple is always popular in any kitchen, while Black Walnut is dramatic in more modern settings.
What are the characteristics of Cherry Wood Bowls?
Cherry: The most popular bowl choice, cherry is known for its rich, warm color. Like all fruit trees, it belongs to the rose family. It was heavily used by American Colonists and is sought after in antique bowl collecting. Cherry grows primarily in the Eastern U.S. The heartwood varies from rich red to reddish brown and darkens with age. It features a fine, straight grain and satiny smooth texture. May naturally contain brown flecks.
What are the characteristics of Maple Wood Bowls?
Hard (Sugar) Maple: Tapped for the sap that produces maple syrup, sugar maples are primarily grown in the Eastern U.S. and favors a cold climate. Very strong and durable, maple is a great choice for chopping blocks and cutting boards. The sapwood is creamy white with a slight reddish brown tinge and the heartwood runs from light to dark reddish brown. Typically the bowl appears lighter in color than a cherry bowl. The grain is fine and generally straight, however it can also occur wavy.
What are the characteristics of Black Walnut Wood Bowls?
Black Walnut: Grown primarily in Eastern U.S. a black walnut tree can reach heights of 100-150 feet. The heartwood is light to dark chocolate brown and occasionally takes on a purple or plum hugh. A rich patina develops with age. Walnut can have both a straight and wavy grain.
What are the characteristics of Red Oak Wood Bowls?
Red Oak: An abundant tree that grows widely through the Eastern U.S. It features a warm reddish brown appearance with an interesting dashed grain. Red oaks have been used for everything from railroad ties, to barrels, furniture, and floors.
What are the characteristics of Beech Wood Bowls?
Beech: Grown in the Eastern U.S., the beech tree has an average height of 120 feet. A very hard wood, it is often used in furniture and flooring. It generally produces a light tan colored bowl, although at times you can see a red tinge.
Often mistaken for cherry, Beech is a warm toned wood that is harder than cherry and works exceptionally well as a chopping bowl. A great bowl for chopped salads lovers, beech will stand up to the mezzaluna.