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If we go by wording on the "on topic" page of our help center, the following question would be on topic:

Refinishing Griswold No. 8 waffle iron handles

A waffle iron is clearly a piece of kitchen equipment. Yet the poster is not asking about the use or upkeep, but the restoring of an antique(?) model with an authentic finish.

Do we percieve this as still on-topic or is that out of bounds for this site?


From our help:

If you have a question about:

  • Cooking & food preparation methods
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Food handling and storage
  • Ingredient selection and use
  • Recipe comprehension, improvement, and repairs
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Even antique equipment may be used today.

We give advice on seasoning pans and sharpening knives, oiling cutting boards etc. and never bother to ask whether the cast iron pan in question is new or an antique. We answer questions about wood-fired pizza ovens and tandoors that were used centuries ago and modern equipment like a sous-vide setup.

So assuming the OP wants to restore his tool to it's former glory and make waffles over the fire, we should try to help him.

No need to change the help.

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    Right now I tentatively lean toward this: I haven't seen many questions like this, so maybe there's not really a problem to solve. I do think that questions more focused on the actual restoration work might often be better on diy, but for questions like this where the OP simply wants to know what the product looked like, if anyone's going to know, it'll be people here. So it feels like the worst case is that we have a hard question or two that we don't know how to answer. – Cascabel Dec 18 '15 at 18:30
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We should draw a line - yes, kitchen equipment is on-topic for this site, but only as far as the use for the preparation of food and the necessary upkeep to keep it functional is concerned.

We are no experts on antique tools and especially not on the authenticity of a finish. If OP had asked about "how to get it clean and functional again", it would have probably been on topic.

Yes, the help needs clarification. I suggest changing the text to:
Use, selection and upkeep of kitchen equipment

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    Does "restoring to original condition" fall under upkeep/maintenance? :) – Cascabel Dec 18 '15 at 15:42
  • @Jefromi, not in my book, especially taking the given question into account. Feel free to adjust the wording - as non-native speaker I do have my limits. – Stephie Dec 18 '15 at 15:54
  • "Upkeep" is probably actually the right one-word choice, maybe "routine maintenance" is more obvious. – Cascabel Dec 18 '15 at 19:01
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    Anyway, I think I might've convinced myself at least that I like allowing it (your other answer). There's also a couple small concerns I have with this one. We (people who cook) are probably also the group that's most likely to have some idea about history-type questions like this, so they're not so far out of scope. It's a difficult line to draw and enforce, so if there's not much downside, it's easier to not try, and possibly do some case-by-case stuff if we ever get really obviously not-at-all-culinary questions, like "how do I forge a new handle for this antique waffle iron?" – Cascabel Dec 18 '15 at 19:05
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As the OP, I thought I'd chime in. I'm not entirely sure that the determination of whether a question is on topic should depending on the intention of the poster in asking the question (for the record I do intend to cook with the equipment mentioned in the post).

For example, if I had simply asked what the material said cookware was constructed of, this question or this one would seem to indicate that would be on topic.

As a rhetorical question, would asking if the handles were galvanized because I was concerned about whether my cookware was coated in zinc (food safety) be on topic, but asking the same question if I wanted to re-coat them in zinc not be?

Proper maintenance of cookware is an important aspect of cooking, but I'm not seeing why there should be a bright line between minimal maintenance (i.e. "How do I keep these handles from rusting") and less minimal maintenance (i.e. "How do I get restore manufacturer's rust protection").

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    I don't think Stephie's distinction was so much about intent as whether a question ultimately has culinary relevance. I don't think anyone was aware that the galvanization issue had potential food safety implications, and that might change things a bit, but still, I think the difference between "is this equipment currently food-safe" and "what was it like originally" is a significant one, not just a matter of intent. I still think the question's probably okay, just maybe not quite for the same reasons as you. – Cascabel Dec 18 '15 at 18:56
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To me, the line I see being crossed is this: It's not just asking how to restore, maintain, and safely use a piece of kitchen equipment. It's asking for historic information about how this particular item was manufactured, which really has nothing to do with cooking.

A comparison would be, someone saying they bought a vintage GE range, but the knobs on the clock are missing, and asking whether authentic replacement knobs should be black or red.

General questions about how to cook with the range, how to clean the oven or burner trays would be fine. How to replace a burned out heating element in this particular model would be off topic.

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I think a good rule of thumb would be "is something being worked on intended for subsequent use in a kitchen, or for keeping/displaying as a collectible?".

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