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Wooden 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 personally 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:unfinished wood bowl before

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 Filled With Citrus

The process is really easy and pain-free — just 3 steps! Here’s how you do it:
how to refinish a wood bowlStep 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 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:
how to restore an old wood bowl

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. Have you restored any worn wooden finds? Share your tips or tricks in the comments below.

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18 Responses

  1. Maribeth Beauchamp says:

    As a chemically sensitive disabled person (multiple chemical sensitivity) what a wonderful way to enjoy a naturally chemical free refinishing technique for old wood. I wonder if this would work with furniture a well? Thank you..

    • hgtvcamille says:

      Hi Maribeth (beautiful name, btw!) Great point about this being chemical free, I hadn't considered using this same method on furniture but, yes, I think you could but without sealing the wood with polyurethane or varnish, the finish wouldn't be very durable.

    • AmyEKessler says:

      my roomate's aunt makes $75 hourly on the computer. She has been out of a job for eight months but last month her pay was $16736 just working on the computer for a few hours. website here… w­w­w.Buzz19.COM

    • Midge says:

      Yes, it does. If someone wants to 'begin' working on old finishes, a good way to start is with a home formby kit. That's how I first cut my teeth on it, and I've never looked back. The reason the kit works well is that it doesn't actually strip anything – I would say it is a 'gentle' touch and it lets you 'get to know' the wood and finish.

  2. Keri_HGTV says:

    Looks great, Camille. The pictures are beautiful, too!

  3. Yolanda says:

    You did a beautiful job, just shows you need to look at the possibilities.

  4. Lori says:

    Love it, thanks for sharing!

  5. Summgardner says:

    I have an old wood bowl also that my daughter wanted me to throw out now that we remodeled our kitchen, I told her they are rare so I am going to show her this article and try to restore it. Thanks!

  6. hgtvcamille says:

    Hi Summgardner — Yay, that's exaclty what I like to hear. A little elbow grease will have your old bowl fitting into your new kitchen in no time.

  7. Robert Matheka says:

    Yes i like your idea of reinventing usable or stray items, just like the above creativity we can bring desired change in the outlook of our home too. But one need to be alert & have smart ideas to put those in use.

  8. El Wi says:

    I have an old round wooden bowl I'd love to use for making bread dough in. But I'm pretty sure it was stained and sealed with either polyurethane or a varnish, just like you first thought of doing. Is it safe to use to make dough or biscuits in or is there a sure safe way to strip it and refinish it the way you did?

  9. […] ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING: How to Restore an Old Wooden Bowl Adventures in Antiquing: Clinch River Spring Antiques Fair Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston […]

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H. Camille SmithCamille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors...


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