This live edge black walnut slab is one of my favorites!
The finish is simply food grade mineral oil and wax! Nothing fancy, just a practical easy to maintain finish that I use on all my surfaces that will be coming in contact with food.
You can use this just like a regular cutting board, so what if it gets some knife marks, I am a firm believer that we should use the items as intended.... coming from a guy who can chop down another walnut and replace it when it gets damaged!!
Ok so you might of purchased this baby and really want to keep it as a serving tray and not hack it up with a knife... that's your prerogative haha! Over time it is going to wear and here is the easiest way to maintain it
Home depot sells a product called Howard Butcher Block Conditioner basically you just put a small amount on the slab, let it soak for around 15-20 minutes then wipe off. Minor dings and scratches will fade and the luster will return. The trick is to wipe if all off, wait about five minutes then really buff it with a dry cloth. I like the inside of sweatshirt material for this, its soft and it gives me a bit of cushioning between my fingers and the surface. You can do a couple coats every couple months or whenever you want. It really is all about personal preference. The wood can only absorb so much oil so if you see it soaking right in and there are "dry" spots, apply more. The lighter colored sections toward the outside are much more porous so they will tend to soak up more quickly and appear "thristy".
Cool story, my grandfather planted this walnut back in the early 1950's. It was near my house and grew dangerously large so I harvested it two years ago. I then milled the log on Woodmizer LT15 bandsaw mill, let it air dry for the next two years and finally I am able to build with the slabs! The tree has a lot of sentimental value to me and I hope that translates into the piece.
The Spalted Sycamore Cheese Tray
The same care techniques apply for this tray from above. Now one distinction, spalted wood is typically way more porous than the original. You see, spalting is a highly sought after figuring in the woodworking community. The tree had to be in the perfect conditions for it to occur. Essentially some fungi spore got on the wood and began chopping away, the black lines are literally boundaries the fungi setup to keep off rival fungi from invading their turf. Its kinda crazy! So i know what you're think this wood has fungus in it?!? No... the fungus is completely inactive and dead once the moisture content dips below 20% +/- .The fungi party is over. To put your mind at ease... this wood was at 8% when I began working with it.
The live edge surfboard tray!
If you own this... there is a guy named Jim that really wanted it and I refused to give it to him!! This was one of my first attempts at a free form design. I was actually just trying out some different ideas on what I thought was a scrap piece of rough cut walnut until I ran it through the planer and saw the grain. It was caked in dried sawdust from the sawmill and I had no idea it looked the way it did. This piece came from the Y of two branches and was on the top of the drying rack... Typically the top board is sacrificial, in my experience that is always the one that misbehaves during the drying process and serves as a platform for all the weight that is stacked on top of it to keep the bottom pieces true.
So this piece is truly one of a kind and a real misfit. I would suggest you use this more as a decorative tray than a cutting board. The grain pattern is absolutely breath taking and I had a really hard time giving this to Alexis to showcase. Hindsight I would of NOT mentioned this one to her when I was chatting haha!
If you do decided to be crazy and drag knives across this... don't tell me!
The Revealed Grain Hearts!
So if you were at the shop, I'm thinking you just saw #revealedgrain for the first time.... what did you think!? Crazy Right?! My thoughts when I accidentally created it! I was trying this ancient Japanese technique called shou sugi ban and just failed miserably. I wire brushed the ash off and to my amazement I saw barn wood! I spent many long nights perfecting the finish, writing tutorials on it and sharing with the woodworking community. To me, sharing the concept and teaching others was incredibly rewarding. It opened up so many opportunities and I am truly grateful for screwing up what I originally was attempting! Some of my best work comes through experimentation. I just gotta remember to write down how i did it!