Cute little cardboard mini loaf pans and fancy cupcake liners are super trendy in specialty stores, but I wanted something a little fancier for gift giving. I picked up some food safe glue and some untreated wood veneer and made exactly what I had in mind. After a couple of prototypes I have a working method ready to go, with plenty of time to make a bunch before the holidays! Click the link below the video for full details.
– Wood Veneer – Make sure you’re getting an untreated wood that is NOT paper backed. Stick with common types of wood – maple, walnut, cherry, etc. It’s even better if it’s a tree that grows something you eat (like the ones I just listed.) Some exotic wood species have naturally occurring chemicals that you don’t really want to consume.
– Wood Glue – Make absolutely sure that the label says it is approved for food contact (indirect food contact is fine.)
– Waxed Paper – It’s handy in the gluing process to prevent things sticking where they don’t belong.
– Parchment Paper – Use this when you actually bake something in your dish – the finished product isn’t water (or batter) tight and you may not want food touching it directly anyway.
– Scissors and/or a Utility Knife – Cut the wood veneer with this. Make sure you have lots of blades if you’re using a utility knife.
– Clamps – Find all the small clamps you own before you start.
– Masking Tape – Keep everything in place.
– Clean Brushes – You’ll need a brush for water and a brush for glue.
– Small Container – You’ll need some water handy for the bending part of the process. Any clean little jar will get this done.
The most important thing is the grain direction – if the grain runs parallel to the fold line the wood will break. It needs to run perpendicular to the fold for strength. If grain direction didn’t matter you could make these with much fewer pieces. I’ve marked the grain direction on the pattern pieces, make sure to align everything properly.
Trace you pattern onto your veneer. A pencil is fine for this.
Cut out the pieces. I prefer to use scissors, but some tight corners require intervention with a utility knife. Cut everything as accurately as you possibly can. Use a few light cuts with the knife instead of trying to cut through on one try. If you veneer is cracking and breaking a lot stick some masking tape over the cutting line before you cut – that should give the wood the support it needs.
Flip it over:
Glue all of the pieces together as shown. Make sure the layered pieces have grain going in opposite directions – this is for strength and to prevent warping later.
After applying the glue be sure to clamp pieces together or place them under a heavy weight like a stack of books.
After the flat parts have dried thoroughly apply water to anywhere that needs to fold. Don’t soak the entire piece, that just invites the glue to stop sticking and everything to start warping. Brush water over it once, leave it for a bit, brush water over it again.
Gently start bending the wood into the shape it needs to be. Bending it too aggressively can break it. Take your time.
Fold the pan into shape. Apply glue to one of the flaps, clamp it into place. As it sets, glue on on the other end. Work your way around until all four flaps are glued down. Leave the whole thing to dry.
If areas warped or pulled loose from their original gluing you can fix it. After the entire dish dries completely, touch a bit of water onto whatever isn’t right, then clamp it into the right shape. Let that dry to set, and repeat for any other bad spots.
Line the dish with some parchment paper, add some dough or batter and bake or microwave it. Drier foods are better, as wet food can soften the shape up a bit.
If you need to clean your dishes use the smallest amount of water possible and avoid soap. Wood is kind of spongy and you probably don’t want your food to taste like your dishwashing soap.