... what woods are fine for being against the skin and > eating
For a number of years I was seriously into carving wooden spoons,
usually from green wood, mostly using the Swedish techniques
championed by Willy Sundquist and his son (for examples of this kind
of work, see http://www.pinewoodforge.com/eating.spoons.html).
I found the following to be exceptional for utensils, rated more or
less in order of personal preference: hawthorn, pear wood, cherry,
apple wood, olive wood, boxwood (power carved not hand carved).
Others that are ok include: holly, dogwood, maples (rock maple is by
far the best of these), alder, magnolia, white oak if you can live
with the porous surface, aged fir (yup, fir. believe it or don't).
Most of the exotic woods --rosewoods and the like-- are a bad idea
for utensils. There are rare exceptions but they're so hard to come
by and you often have no idea how they were treated before they ended
up in your hands (some of the wood treatment methods used in the
"less developed" countries of the world would make your hair curl).
IMHO how you finish your utensils is at least as important as what
wood you use. Forget varnishes and shellac if you plan on actually
using the utensils. Oil and oil/wax finishes are the only way to go.
In my work I found that naturally air hardening oils worked very
well (eg. tung oil, raw linseed oil, grapeseed oil, etc). Raw tung
oil was probably the best I used but you MUST use the raw stuff
because "prepared" tung oils have heavy metal driers added that make
them very bad for your internal organs. Other good options included
olive oil (it air hardens VERY slowly but doesn't tend to go terribly
rancid), raw linseed oil, and oil-beeswax combos. A slow boil in pure
cream works nicely too if that's an option for you (sadly one must
discard the cream afterwards ).
Feel free to contact me offline if you'd like more details.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com