No matter how long I have been doing woodworking, it seems that I am always learning something new. Most of the time, too, this knowledge comes when I need something or stumble onto something while I am focusing on something else. It is kind of cool.
This weekend I spent creating some new things for my grand daughter, Willow.
Willow is about 18 months old now, and really at a 'busy' age. I thought it would a nice to send her some cute and simple puzzles for Easter.
I have been asked many times about 'child safe' and 'food safe' finishes for wood pieces. My usual answer is to use some oil such as mineral oil as something that would work. I have read articles and I often refer people to Bob Flexner's article on finishing, as he is considered one of the experts. (If you wish to read his article, you can do so HERE)
While most cured finishes are safe, I wanted something that would not only be deemed safe, but also not have an unpleasant odor. As usual, I have to ship the finished pieces as soon as possible, and don't have the time to allow them to fully cure! My quest for finding something that would be appropriate had me looking on the interet for the best choice. In my travels, I came across a 'recipe' that sounded good to me. It was a combination of beeswax and oil and I was fortunate to have them both on hand.
I had some beeswax pellets that I purchased for my needle felting projects. You used the wax to help secure loose ends of the wool as you worked. The pellets were small and odor free and I thought they would work well.
I have a small potpourri pot that I had used to melt the wax pellets in, and that did fine. I melted the pellets first, then I added mineral oil at about a 2:1 ratio of oil to wax.
I mixed it thoroughly with a wooden tongue depressor and unplugged the pot. As I allowed it to cool, I went back every five minutes or so and stirred it, to make sure it was completely mixed. What resulted was this:
A white, creamy mixture that had the consistency of thick vegetable shortening. "Perfect" I thought!
I tried a sample on one of the pieces I had cut from maple. As you can see in the photo, I think it looked beautiful. The little kitten was waxed and the mom was not:
While I really like using mineral oil for fretwork, for larger and less complex pieces like this, I found that this process had several advantages. The mixture of beeswax and oil brought together the best of both worlds. While the mineral oil penetrated nicely, it was thin and runny and tended to leave the pieces feeling a bit 'greasy'. I usually had to let it absorb into the pieces for several hours or overnight before proceeding with a finish coat (usually lacquer) so the pieces wouldn't dry out. Then I had to deal with the smell again. The addition of the beeswax really allowed me to have a lot of control over the application.
To apply it, I used a stiff brush. The one shown here is the cheap kind you get for applying finish:
I brushed the fluffy paste onto the pieces, and then took a lint-free cloth to buff them off:
I then took a piece of dental floss to clean the wax out of the kerf lines of the piece. This was quick and easy.
I decided to add some color to just the tops of some of the pieces. I LIGHTLY sanded the tops of the pieces (with 600 grit paper) and applied DecoArt's Multi-Surface Satin paint using a deerfoot brush.
I LOVE this paint so much! What is so great about it is that you need no primer or base under it, it has great adhesion to just about any clean, dry surface, and it needs no top sealer and dries to a beautiful, hard satin finish. We are using this paint for our re-organizational project furniture pieces, as I have used it on many things before and love the ease of application, beauty and durability of it. It comes in many beautiful colors, too and as with all DecoArt products, is non-toxic and odor free. This was the perfect choice for these little puzzles I am making.
Within a very short time, the paint dried completely to the touch. While it will take a little time to fully 'cure', it can be handled very quickly and I don't worry about packing the pieces up to ship them. By the time they get to Willow, they will be ready to be played with. Look how wonderful this little sample piece came out!
The above puzzle was just a test from a picture that I saw on Pinterest. I spent some time designing my own spring themed simple puzzles for Willow. I used the same process and several beautiful and bright colors of the DecoArt Multi-Surface paint:
And in a very short time, these pieces are ready to go!
I was so thrilled with this process, that I decided on making these two pieces into a pattern. I will have it available on my site in the next couple of days. I also had some wonderful ideas to create some new toys for small children. When I was looking at wood toys on Pinterest, I was shocked at the prices that real wood toys cost. I almost let laziness get the best of me, but I am glad that I stumbled upon these ideas, as it really got my creative juices flowing!
I am sure many of you in the woodworking field already knew about this process. But since I am often asked about it, I thought that I would share it here with everyone. And I hope you all look into this DecoArt Multi-Surface Satin paint. The more I use this product, the more I love it! It is a great paint to use for toys, furniture and a variety of home-decor projects. You can read more about it here: DecoArt Multi-Surface Satin Paint Information and Color Chart.
I think you will like it as much as I do. :)
Happy Monday to you all!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"