Paint and finish that is safe for kids

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Forum topic by carguy460 posted 10-18-2012 01:04 AM 2313 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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807 posts in 2571 days

10-18-2012 01:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

Hey LJ’s!

I found out a few weeks ago that my wife and I are expecting a child in June. I immediately had a hair-brained idea to build a pull toy…I call it the Duck Train:

Note that the above pic is only half the train…2 more little ducks are in progress.

I would like to paint the duck train…yellow bodies, orange bills, and black wheels. I am needing to know if there is a safe paint out there for kids. I assume that my child will be chewing the heck out of this toy…

Also, after painting with a kid-safe paint, should a follow up with a clear finish coat?

Thanks in advance for your guidance!

-- Jason K

19 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30128 posts in 2573 days

#1 posted 10-18-2012 01:31 AM

I was advised here to use shellac. Made a baby crib.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View JohnnyMeans's profile


1 post in 2282 days

#2 posted 10-18-2012 01:36 AM

Any finish available in the U.S. is safe once cured.I would dye stain then use an oil. No peeling or chipping that way.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2521 days

#3 posted 10-18-2012 01:37 AM

real milk paint can me mouthed, chewed and eaten by kids with no ill effects at all. It’s made from casein (basically dried milk). It is EXTREMELY safe if you want to paint the objects. Otherwise, shellac, as already has been said. You’ve been eating it for years. The food industry uses tons of it.

If you paint with milk paint, don’t clear coat it UNLESS you clear coat it with some equally safe (like clear shellac)

View Don W's profile

Don W

19040 posts in 2803 days

#4 posted 10-18-2012 11:28 AM

congrat’s on the new addition, including the ducks!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View carguy460's profile


807 posts in 2571 days

#5 posted 10-18-2012 11:51 AM

Shellac…I had a feeling that was going to be an answer. I knew about its use in food products, so it stands to reason its safe.

I had no clue about milk paint. I’d heard the term thrown around but didn’t know what it was! Sounds like the way to go. How durable is the finish with milk paint? I wonder if it would be best to apply shellac over it just for durability?

Don – thanks for the congrats! I’m pretty giddy about it all…ducks included.

-- Jason K

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Don W

19040 posts in 2803 days

#6 posted 10-18-2012 12:06 PM

I’ve found milk paint to not be as durable as others, so a shellac coat would help. For your application though, I think either way would work.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2596 days

#7 posted 10-18-2012 12:16 PM

Latex/acrylic interior wall paint and/or waterborne poly are as safe as anything.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View bondogaposis's profile


5149 posts in 2586 days

#8 posted 10-18-2012 12:34 PM

A second vote for milk paint.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3394 days

#9 posted 10-18-2012 12:40 PM

Milk paint would be pretty. Shellac is my go to topping for such things. But I agree, anything is fine once cured.

Congrats on the child…best thing in life!

-- jay,

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2289 days

#10 posted 10-18-2012 01:33 PM

I’ve read any paint available in north america is safe once cured, if the eat it, it will just pass through their system. Your choice, though i think milk paint is easier to renew if it wears out…not confident about that though

-- Joel

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2911 days

#11 posted 10-18-2012 02:47 PM

I agree that any paint we buy here is okay and safe. Hobby Lobby sells a spray paint that is made for kids toys. I don’t like it because it dries slow and is a little more difficult to work with. Like most people I want instant results but I have used it successfully. Look at it. It is near the wood wheel and axle section most of the time. Congratulations on the addition to the family.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2521 days

#12 posted 10-18-2012 03:49 PM

Milk paint is actually sacrificial by nature. It will slough with weathering. You can make it FAR more durable by adding NO MORE THAN 10% pure tung oil or real boiled linseed oil. NO MORE THAN 10%. I would only add the oil for furniture or outdoor items to slow the weathering effects outside or make a furniture piece a little better able to withstand a scrubbing.
For kids’ toys it’s just not necessary. Milk paint is a flat finish. No shine. You might get it to an eggshell if the piece is sanded very finely, but in general, milk paint is flat flat flat. For that reason the childrens’ toys might be more attractive with a shellac overcoat.
As an artist I’ve worked with casein paints for over 40 years. So I kinda know how they work. :)

View CANDL's profile


44 posts in 3042 days

#13 posted 10-18-2012 04:34 PM

Ducks … Hmm something I have helped my wife make as gifts.

Ours go out UNFINISHED … but we use Yellowheart and Cocobolo … 1 big yellow Momma duck 2 yellow babies and one brown “ugly” duckling. (Maple wheels and axels)

The research we did lead us to believe that these woods were all safe outside the shop. We deal with dust via a dust collection and air filter system … so knock on wood we have had no issues.

I do have concerns though about wood grain direction… Kids chew and pry …. if the can snap off a small beak is it a choking hazard ( I would rather snap a head off then a beak …. harder to swallow the head)

I suggest looking at:

Ok I am not going all leagaleaze but as an engineer/woodworker if I gave my daughter a toy I made, andg that killed her …. well not sure what I do… fortunately with her in her mid 20s I think I am safe.

The PDF mentions a cord length maximum, and maximum load before failure.

I believe they also discuss a pull test … you pull on a part say the wheel, with 25# of force… if it comes off it must pass the choke test. Our wheels did not fail at 25# so we passed that test but who knew.

We love making toys together, we just want to make sure everybody is smiling for 20 yrs after we are gone.

Regards and Congrats!
No amount of careful planning compensates for poor parenting …. if the kid chews the duck into a spear and stabs their brother what can we do. If a toy gets “frayed” get rid of it.

View Mauricio's profile


7150 posts in 3387 days

#14 posted 10-18-2012 07:01 PM

I sent a lot of time applying shellac to a table I made for my kids. Maybe its just my skill level with shellac but it took me longer to do the finish than to make the damn table. If I had to do it again I would have used oil and wax. I have no experience with milk paint but that sounds like a good option.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4360 days

#15 posted 10-18-2012 07:07 PM

N-thing shellac, although I’ve been convinced that when a modern polyurethane cures it’s food safe. For food finishes I usually use walnut oil; I’ve no idea how that interacts with food allergies, but my sweety is fairly sensitive to walnuts whole and uses wood utensils and bowls finished with walnut oil all the time without incident.

And I’ve actually been tempted to drop out the $80 for the ASTM standard on toys that the CPSC uses. I’ve convinced myself that I don’t need third party testing if I’m donating toys, but it does seem like following those guidelines wouldn’t be a bad idea.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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