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Food safe finishes for wooden handles

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Which common wood finishing products are safe for use on wooden knife handles. I'd be particularly interested in anything suitable for sealing hickory and ash. I know they are not common woods for knife handles but I have a ton (literally) of ash and hickory hammer shafts that I need to find a use for.




Edited by Bob Geldart
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I use Waterlox.... it's a tung oil base ....exspensive but it lasts good in a kitchen enviroment.... and you can steel wool it an apply a new layer when required.... I would not use it on a cutting board but for knive handles it has a durable finish....I've been using it for 35 years on one of my kitchen knives that still has the original finish,,, It is getting thin and could use a refinish but in all this time it has protected the maple realy well.... I actual soaked the handle in a jar filled with waterlox for a couple of days.... then let it dry and allpied one last final coat... it dries to the touch in a day but takes about a month to really harden according to the directions ..


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Salad Bowl Oil. Otherwise known as Food-Safe Mineral Oil. The non-food safe is still edible but, will give you the runs if too much gets into your food and on knife handles this could be an issue. I keep the food-safe stuff around to maintain wooden spoons, cutting boards, etc. and since I have it... So far it has worked well for me and it is extremely simple to fix if the finish ever gets damaged. Granted, these are knives for my own use, something I'm selling, I would consider the Waterlox. In my own kitchen, I insist that the knives I made get washed immediately after use, dried off, and then oiled. Something that is going to somebody else, you really cannot control how the knife is maintained and that extra durability the Waterlox provides will only help your reputation. The way I've seen people treat knives! Nobody takes care of stuff. For kitchen knives I'd probably give them Stainless Steel with a Stabilized Wood (or other plasticized material such as Micarta) handle because they are incapable of maintaining anything else.


P.S. If you have a ton of hammer handles why not sell some and use the proceeds to buy yourself a wider range of handle material?



“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

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I'll also recommend Waterlox. Have used it for years, it's durable and easy to repair.


When you've finished :lol: , before you recap the can, add some marbles to bring the

level of the finish up to the top of the can. This will displace the air in the can and

prevent the formation of a useless, gelatinous mess.


Hope this helps,



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A agree on Waterlox - original semi-gloss for me. I also use Watco Danish Oil for handles, which is a cured finish as well.

Kurt Huhn


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