What kind of finish for wood blocks/shapes for kids

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Forum topic by truckrun posted 09-19-2013 04:41 PM 1506 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View truckrun's profile


45 posts in 1071 days

09-19-2013 04:41 PM

I am making some wooden block shapes for my son out of some scrap 2×4 and was wondering what kind of finish you guys think I shut put on them? He’s old enough that I don’t think that he’ll be chewing on them but I would also like to make some for some of the smaller nieces and nephews. In the New Yankee Workshop episode on an alphabet wagon Norm used “clear polyurethane”. Do you think that would be OK as long as I let it cure completely?

-- Donald LeBlanc -

13 replies so far

View mtenterprises's profile


876 posts in 1662 days

#1 posted 09-19-2013 04:48 PM

I posted this to Nate22 a few days ago. “Well, reread what you wrote and it sounds like you want to make blocks to sell or give away if that is the case it is BEST NOT to finish the blocks, or any toys for that matter, since toys need childproof finishes (you can find much debate on this subject on line)” Just a portion of what I wrote go back here’s the thread.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 718 days

#2 posted 09-19-2013 04:52 PM

You could make them reddish with Rocoto pepper sauce. They’ll only chew for a split second.

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View jmartel's profile


4379 posts in 1119 days

#3 posted 09-19-2013 04:55 PM

Personally I’d probably use the same thing one would use for a cutting board. Mineral oil, followed by beeswax. Completely food safe, still finishes the wood and makes it a bit nicer to handle than unfinished.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6828 posts in 2398 days

#4 posted 09-19-2013 05:50 PM

I use unsugared KoolAid for color, lightly sanding after. No film finish at all.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View upinflames's profile


134 posts in 1131 days

#5 posted 09-19-2013 08:05 PM

If you have to finish them, use shellac, non-toxic, quick and easy. It’s used in the food and drug industry for coating candy to pills.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1504 posts in 1330 days

#6 posted 09-19-2013 08:33 PM

Waterborne poly or acrylic interior gloss wall paint for color.

-- 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 truckrun's profile


45 posts in 1071 days

#7 posted 09-20-2013 08:58 PM

Thanks everybody for your input!

-- Donald LeBlanc -

View pintodeluxe's profile


3987 posts in 1782 days

#8 posted 09-20-2013 09:02 PM

I would read the label on some Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner. It is food safe, so would likely be kid safe too. It contains mineral oil and wax. It leaves the wood with a nice satin luster, and a velvety smooth feel.
Available at Home Depot.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Goodsh's profile


54 posts in 889 days

#9 posted 09-21-2013 02:43 PM

The poly would be fine as long as it is fully cured. Check out Bob Flexner’s books on finishing. He’s probably one of the best experts on finishing and he makes it pretty clear and explains why all finishes are safe once they’ve cured. He recommends waiting 30 days and sticking your nose right on it to test. If there’s any odour it’s not cured yet.

View Ron Ford's profile

Ron Ford

187 posts in 701 days

#10 posted 09-21-2013 09:01 PM

Have you considered salad bowl finish? That is definitely food safe.

-- Once in awhile I make something really great. Most days I just make sawdust.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1819 days

#11 posted 09-22-2013 04:41 PM

A set of 2×4 blocks which I made 35 years ago is now going around again. No finish, wonderful patina, nobody died of anything. Or bit one.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Benvolio's profile


142 posts in 900 days

#12 posted 09-22-2013 05:41 PM

I’‘ve heard before that shellac is non toxic, so can be used on kids toys. Not v durable though.

If you want to play it safe for toxicology, I’d just go with the food grade oil finishes recommended for chopping boards / salad bowls etc…

-- Ben, England.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1819 days

#13 posted 09-23-2013 12:32 AM

Norm puts Minwax polyurethane on everything because…drum roll….they help pay his salary!

Blocks don’t need finish, and that’s great news because (a) how you gonna prevent runs, (b) how many sides are you going to finish at a time, and© blocks don’t need finish of any kind.

And further, I submit, if we eat nutmeg, having the occasional corner of a block in a kid’s mouth will not be harmful to the child.

Don’t worry, be happy!



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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