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I'm making some trivets (beech, oak) as christmass gifts and I'm not sure what finish to use - I'm not really too much concerned about trivet's finish damage - I'm more concerned about finish leaving some residue on hot pots - that would be pretty bad gift.

Trivets are made of beech and oak (probably red oak? - I'm in europe).

What I want from the finish:

  • to be reasonably durable
  • to withstant boiling water temperature i.e. 100 C (212 F) without leaving any stains on pots
  • I don't care about gloss/satin/whatever - those trivets should be more tools than decoration

My most used finishes for small items are:

  • boiled linseed oil + wax
  • boiled linseed oil + shellac
  • oil based polyurethane (this is what I think would be best)

I'm pretty sure wax is out of question - what about shellac or poly? Will they melt?

Also feel free to suggest other finishes you'd think would work.

(I know I can make test boards, and I may end up doing so anyway, but I want to know what you would use)

Edit - what about epoxy?

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  • Try a search Jan ;-) "(I know I can make test boards, and I may end up doing so anyway, but I want to know what you would use)" This is a good idea of course, but bear in mind maximum performance from a finish isn't achieved until it has fully cured...... with oil-based poly that means you can't do a proper test until after Christmas!
    – Graphus
    Nov 30, 2021 at 19:59
  • @Graphus - well.. that's my thing with every year... up until around December 10th, I keep thinking "it's just autumn, plenty of time till christmass... " and it's not. However, the poly I have cures "ok" in 2 days when applied in thin coat and it's not "tacky" after 3-4 days so I still have time for 3 coats. But thanks for the warning :) As for search - yes I could read every finish's info and then select some - but I value other's experience more - e.g. it never occured to me to just skip finish altogether (as bowlturner suggested)
    – Jan Spurny
    Nov 30, 2021 at 23:10
  • @Graphus - your line "maximum performance... isn't achieved until it has fully cured" made me think of epoxy.. that will cure in 24h and it should be "boiling point temperature resistant" - right? I was thinking about things I have and have experience with - and I've never used epoxy finish.. but I know it exists and now I think it could be The Solution - what do you think?
    – Jan Spurny
    Nov 30, 2021 at 23:20
  • Also - my mother has a trivet I made cca 35 years ago in woodworking class in elementary school - and she still uses it (for motherly reasons, not because it's good) - and it does have a finish - but I don't remember what that finish was..
    – Jan Spurny
    Nov 30, 2021 at 23:24
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    Re. the curing, sorry I've probably been giving the wrong impression here. Oil-based polys typically are more than heat resistant enough for this purpose, it's one reason why this is the finish of choice for the home woodworker for all high-traffic surfaces including kitchen tables. I was just trying to make the point that the dry time and cure time can be so very far apart, much further apart than one might expect, and if you wanted to test yours the window is too long for presents for this year.
    – Graphus
    Dec 1, 2021 at 21:28

1 Answer 1

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Actually, in this case my recommendation would be to not put a finish on them, they will work just fine as is, both woods' can take a bit of punishment and still look good just a nice sanding job.

If you really want 'something' of a finish, I'd probably go with a oil finish, but you need to be careful there because many are nut oils, peanut/walnut etc. which can be dangerous for those with nut allergies. Hot pots and pans could evaporate some of those bits and pieces into the air to be breathed in.

EDT: And it looks like BLO might not be a good candidate, according to the comments, it does not like heat, which can soften it up again (and make it sticky).

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  • yes, I can see skipping finish (just BLO, or nothing at all) could be ok with the oak ones... not so sure about beech. As for allergies - I would use boiled linseed oil, that shouldn't be a problem for anyone - and I don't think it would evaporate in large enough quantities to be a problem anyway. Food safety also isn't an issue - the only food contact would be some spilling from the pots, and nobody is going to eat that :)
    – Jan Spurny
    Nov 30, 2021 at 23:17
  • @JanSpurny Yes, I agree boiled linseed oil shouldn't be a problem.
    – bowlturner
    Dec 1, 2021 at 13:12
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    @JanSpurny my kitchen worktops are BLO-treated oak and they're fine with boiling water temperatures. One day I'll try them with something hotter, in an area that needs a bit of refinishing anyway. But it's reasonable to lift something straight from a hot oven onto a trivet, and that can be quite a lot hotter. I'm not sure BLO could take 180°C for example (without shedding something). It might be OK, or it might not, especially when not well aged
    – Chris H
    Dec 1, 2021 at 13:34
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    @ChrisH, yep, this is why I would be hesitant to suggest BLO, even though the trivets won't exactly self destruct if they get hot. Linseed oil (any type) does remain permanently softenable if exposed to high heat. You can see this effect on old rifles where the woodwork can become soft and/or sticky after a session at the range (when the hot metal has heated the wood) and sometimes only when left in direct sunlight in a hotter climate...... and this is even where the stock was finished 50+ years previously!
    – Graphus
    Dec 1, 2021 at 14:03
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    Ok, thank you all, I'm just gonna skip the finish. I'll try to burnish the surface with wood shavings to look "shiny", so at least it would look like I made an effort :)
    – Jan Spurny
    Dec 1, 2021 at 15:51

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