Saturday, September 15, 2012

Safe and Natural Wood Finish for Babies

I love working with wood.  I remember spending many hours in the garage with my father while I was growing up.  I would watch him working on his projects.  Inevitably I would gather some wood scraps and start constructing my own little projects.  It meant so much to me that my ideas were never silly to him.  He helped me out and made me feel important.  I wonder, if he had brushed me to the side while he was busy, would I still have a fondness for hanging out with wood in the garage?  How often do I brush aside the seedlings of my children's desire for learning?  
I've been wanting to make little wood toys for my friends when they have babies, but I've found myself waiting because I was unsure of how to finish them.  Babies explore with their mouths and wood toys are perfect for their little hands to grasp and to hold.  Here is a tutorial for making a natural wood finish that is non-toxic, safe for your toys, and safe for baby.  It also gives your wood a nice warm color that is smooth to the touch.

Two ingredients, olive oil and beeswax!
I found a lot of inspiration from this video, and this tutorial.

You can purchase beeswax at Michaels.  I used a 40% coupon and it ended up being $11.  A little expensive, but I used just a tiny bit of it.  I don't think I will ever need to buy it again.  It might be nice to go in on it with some friends and there would still be tons left over.  I used just regular olive oil, a disposable container, and a 1/3 c measuring cup.  The ratio of olive oil to beeswax is four to one.  So use whatever measurement that works for the size of container you have.

Shave off one part beeswax.  It's pretty hard stuff, so it shaves off nicely.  

Pack it into your measuring cup.  Pack it in.

Pour it into your disposable container.  The beeswax sticks together, so make sure you kind of break it up a bit so it melts faster.

Pour in four parts olive oil.

Melt the finish in your microwave.  You'll want to take it slowly so that the beeswax melts all the way, but don't go to far, oil can catch on fire.  I'm a bit paranoid about stuff like oil and fire, I've seen it happen before, so here's how I took it:

melt for 30 seconds
give it a nice careful stir
melt for another 30 seconds
stir for a bit
melt for 15 seconds
15 seconds
stir until the last pieces disappear

That looks like a lot, but it's really just a minute and a half :)

Now your finish has to set up.  You can leave it on the counter for a few hours until it cools, or stick it in the freezer for a while.  I totally stuck mine in the freezer.

Look at your lovely finish!
To apply, use a paper towel to rub it into your wood.  Use a clean paper towel to rub off the excess.  Let the toy set for 24 hours so that the finish has time to dry and set up.

I also like the advice given in this tutorial from Wee Folk Art for applying your finish.

And there you have it!  A lovely wood toy that is safe in baby's hands and in baby's mouth.


  1. That has to be the most adorable toy I've ever seen! What type of saw do you use for it?

  2. what kind of wood is recommended safe for baby toys?



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