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When we started our Etsy Shop, it looked more like a mad dash to get up and running than the execution of a calculated business plan. We were very scattered in our approach and were more than surprised by our immediate success. We sold some hand painted items, one of a kind pieces, and hand built do-dads and what-nots. But, what really took off was our Picture Ledges! We could hardly keep up with orders...partly because we had so many, and partly because of the lack of order and reason in our strategy (building ledges in the workshop, hauling them through the yard, up the dangerous staircase, around the mid-renovation projects, and in to the partially finished "office" for painting, packing and labeling. Then hauling the boxes back down the dangerous staircase, around the mid-renovation projects, and out to the truck for shipment....you get the idea).
We will always be grateful for the quick success of the ledges, as they really catapulted our shop in to existence right from the get-go and gave our business direction. And they are still a big chunk of our sales. Besides, they're kind of awesome! We have them in every room in our house (well, we will once we FINISH every room in the house)!
But, as it goes with Etsy - it wasn't long before 100 other shops popped up selling VERY similar picture ledges and we saw our sales dwindle. It was in that lull that Charlie found an opportunity to work with wood in a more creative manner. He met a local man who runs a sawmill in west Tn. He mills native trees in to beautiful slabs or workable lumber. Charlie was mesmerized by the beauty in the unique grain patterns and live edge pieces he brought home. He didn't have the heart to cut in to them and wondered how we could best showcase their natural appeal. As we discussed our kitchen completion projects, the idea of a table runner came up - an elevated surface to display seasonal décor or a charcuterie board for my favorite food spread (I'm Italian!). Charlie didn't hesitate. He disappeared in his workshop for a few hours and came back with a beautiful Cherry wood serving board.
And a handful more I didn't get pictures of - but, trust me. They were stunning!We knew our Etsy customers would love them as much as we did. Rustic, elegant, unique, and functional. They would be showstoppers at weddings, buffets, brunches, showers, and holidays. But, they were naked. Just bare, porous wood. They needed a durable, beautiful finish to protect them and make them shine.
Since I am responsible for finishing and packaging all of our products, I was in charge of finding a finish that I would be comfortable using. That wasn't an easy process. I'm a little finicky about committing to something that will represent us and the quality of our business. Not to mention, I didn't want to work with anything complicated. I've got kids to homeschool, diapers to change, boxes to pack, and a farm to run. I have no time for complicated finishes! So, here's what I was looking for:
1. Natural. I can't stand working with chemicals. I aim for zero VOCs, non-toxic, and unscented EVERYTHING. From laundry detergent to paint. So, lacquers and varnishes were off the table from the start. But, even oils like Tung or Linseed (technically natural) could produce unwanted fumes....or spontaneously combust if not disposed of properly - too complicated!
2. Non-toxic. Something I could work with year round - in the house! I knew I would have to find whatever horizontal surface available to finish the boards - whether it be the dining table, top of the washing machine, or a stack of boxes in the garage. I couldn't work with anything that needed ventilation or a prolonged drying time.
3. Food-safe. We intended to market our beautiful boards for food display, charcuterie spreads, and cupcake presentations. We certainly didn't want to cut any corners that would compromise the safety of our products.
So, I set to hunting. Several hours later I pinned down a company. A new company. A small company... with very few reviews (although the few they had, were consistently good). The company was called Clark's. They offered a butcher block oil and wax combo in two scents: Rosemary/Lavender and Orange-Lemon that promised to hydrate, condition, and seal my wood products and give them a healthy shine. YES! After reading up on their product claims ( "all our products are formulated with FDA approved ingredients for direct and indirect contact with food.", "CLARK'S Cutting Board Oil is a food-safe, all-natural oil"...etc), I could clearly see that their oil/wax seemed to meet all my criteria. So, I ordered the Clark's Finishing Kit to test it out.
Seemed simple enough, so I went for it!
I grabbed a Cedar Wood Serving Board that Charlie had just sanded smooth and poured the oil across it.
The Oil was lightweight. The scent was bold (I chose the Orange-Lemon), but not overpowering or unpleasant. It brought out the color in the wood immediately. Here is a photo of the bare wood (on the right) and the oiled wood (on the left):
I allowed the board to dry for 24 hours. It seemed fully hydrated to me, so I wiped it down and moved on to the wax application. Just as simple. I used a paper towel, as the video suggested and applied a layer of wax.
1 hour later, it was a picture of beauty. I poured water over it and watched it bead up. The wood grain glowed with natural warmth. It was sealed, food-safe, and gorgeous. It was finally a board we could PROUDLY offer in our Etsy Shop.
There was really no turning back at that point. I went through the bottle of oil in a day and half and we posted our new listings as soon as the wax was dry. Rustic Table Runners, Charcuterie boards, Serving Boards, and Display Boards... The sky is the limit now. Here are a few of my favorites:
We have been using Clark's Cutting Board Oil & Wax for months now and it is still a thrill to see the wood come alive with color during the application process. I still haven't tired of the fresh citrus scent and I feel confident using it in my home, knowing it isn't harmful to my family. I feel equally confident presenting the beautiful finished product to our customers, knowing the protection it offers. That confidence is why we use Clark's Cutting Board Oil & Wax to finish all of our wood products here at Rehoboth Farm.
A few notes:
A 16oz bottle of oil will finish about 4 to 6 boards (front and back) depending on the size. I had to start buying it by the gallon!
The 10oz jar of wax has lasted considerably longer than the oil and I can usually seal about twice that many boards with one jar.
I am not receiving anything from the Clark's company for this review. I HONESTLY just love the stuff and want you to know it!
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