I'm not one of those dedicated yard sale people who check the papers, get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and make the rounds, haggling and being sure to get the lowest possible price on everything. It's not that I'm yard-sale averse, but it feels like more work than I'm willing to put in. Plus, my goal is to avoid being a person who needs to have a yard sale; therefore I want to keep the amount of my possessions under somewhat reasonable control.
I applaud the premise behind the yard sale: getting rid of things that are no longer of use, and having them end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate them. It keeps a lot of volume out of the landfills and gives new life to old stuff while allowing someone, who could possibly not afford an item otherwise, to purchase something they need or want.
All of this having been said, I was helping some friends with a yard sale the past Saturday and I noticed, buried amongst a pile of dirty dishes and bowls, a well-worn wooden salad bowl. I've always loved wooden salad bowls, their solid, natural appearance and the soft glow of the wood. This one was unusual in that it was much deeper and made from a darker wood than most I'd seen. It was water stained and had a nasty, sticky residue on the inside, presumably from many years of use.
I bought it for one dollar and added it to the ever-growing pile of treasures I was finding.
After doing a bit of research online as to how best to refinish a wooden bowl, I scrubbed the sticky interior with a bit of baking soda and salt. It took several attempts and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, but I finally got the sticky coating off. The wood grain inside as well as outside was absolutely beautiful. Now for the fun part- (note sarcasm here)- the sanding. I started with 100 grit paper and a sanding block for the exterior, which cleaned up fairly quickly. I progressed to 150, 22o and finally 600 before I was satisfied that all the stains had been removed and the wood was smooth.
The interior was another matter, since the bowl had such steep sides and was so curved. I finally ended up wrapping the sandpaper around a tennis ball and was able to manage the curves that way, but it did take a bit longer and a lot more effort, as the wood grain seemed to have been a bit "raised". Several hours later I was pleased with how the inside looked as well, and it was smooth as a baby's bottom.
I truly wish I had gotten some photos of it before the refinishing process. It was a diamond in the rough to be sure, but to truly appreciate just how nice it looks now it would be helpful to compare the "before" and "after" photos. No matter, I'm just thrilled at how it looks with several coats of mineral oil on it. I'll oil it every day for a week; every week for a month and then every month for the rest of its life. Hopefully a family heirloom, and all for $1!