Safe Finishes for Toy Blocks

What's a practical finish for childrens' wooden blocks? December 9, 2010

I'm making some blocks for my new grandson (yeah!) and may make them to sell as well. What's a safe finish to put on them?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
Clear coat? Some colors have heavy metals and some nut oils are allergens. Shellac is generally considered safe.

From contributor D:
MLC Agualente or Aguabernice is a safe choice. They are waterborne, and spray only application, so keep that in mind.

From contributor R:
I made a set of maple blocks for my kids 25 years ago that have since been passed on to 2 sets of nephews. No finish at all, simply sanded to 220. Maple has a natural anti-bacterial agent which is why it is used for cutting boards. The blocks are dented and dinged, but otherwise still look great. All of the handling and movement has burnished them to a nice sheen.

From contributor P:
John Boos sells a food safe finish that's easy to use.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the suggestions. The comment on John Boos reminded me that I have oil for butcher blocks already. Now I just have to find it.

From contributor V:
I made some maple blocks a few years ago and after sanding them to 220, I burnished them using a dry buffing wheel. The resulting surface was quite smooth and it took very little time.

From contributor F:
My old standby utility finish: melt paraffin or beeswax (both available at the hardware) in a double boiler, add mineral spirits while melted. When the liquid cools, it should still be a liquid. Brush or spray on your project. It will soak into the wood and the thinner will evaporate (usually over a few days). The project will be waterproof. You can buff with a cloth to remove excess after it dries or heat with a blow dryer and the excess will soak in. This is a nice utility finish for toys, tool handles, items in the shop, etc.