My wife loves her wooden spoons, but after many years, they warp and crack and eventually fall apart. So I started wondering what the best material to make a wooden spoon out of might be.
I bought 10 small samples of hardwoods and cut them all to roughly the size that could serve as the bowl of a wooden spoon. So I have 10 pieces of wood roughly 5” long, 2 1/2” wide and 7/16” thick.
I started with those and put them into a large stock pot with 4 gallons of water and started boiling them, adding more water as it evaporated. After 5 hours of boiling, I baked them at 350 F until they were completely dry – about an hour, but not positive. Then I boiled them 5 more hours (adding water), and then baked them dry again.
As you might expect, much of the wood color came out into the water – and colored all the samples. What I did not expect was that the color soaked well into the wood – almost 1/16”. The samples below were all sanded back to clean grain and took on very similar coloring – despite being taken down to a clean surface on the belt sander. However, I was just trying to simulate long-term abuse in a kitchen. The coloring is just an interesting sidelight.
The results are as follows:
Cherry: Warping and cracking
Walnut: Slight warping
Basswood: No warping or cracking
Maple: Slight warping, Very slight cracking
Ash: No warping or cracking
Unknown: No warping or cracking
Poplar: Slight warping
Alder: Slight warping, moderate cracking
Birch: Warping, no cracking
Red Oak: Warping and heavier cracking.
About the “Unknown”: I labeled each piece with a marker, but the “Before photo” I didn’t have a good angle and can’t see the printing. After all the boiling, the lettering is difficult-to-impossible to make out. Below is a photo taken and blown up. If anyone can make out the name (or identify from the “before” picture), I’ll repost this with the name included.
I looked up the toxicity of wood in: http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/
None of the woods listed above mention toxicity, although all of them have the capability of harming us while being worked on. If nothing else, I recommend the site as a good reference for those people who work with exotic or unusual woods.
-- Bob www.singularengineering.com - A sideline, not how I earn a living