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I want to make wooden blocks for my baby girl. If successful, I would like to sell wooden block sets online too.

Requirements: (by order of importance)

  1. Non-toxic
  2. Cheap & readily available
  3. Durable (doesnt chip, can withstand baby's watery mouth)
  4. Easy to work with

What are your suggestions for the best:

  1. Wood type
  2. Wood paint
  3. Finish

for the job?

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This question is borderline off topic, and might fit better on a woodworking site. –  Tester101 Oct 29 '10 at 12:10
    
See: meta.diy.stackexchange.com/q/190/22 –  Niall C. Oct 29 '10 at 13:52
    
Following that discussion, how do I rescind a close vote? (I checked meta.stackoverflow for it, but to no avail.) meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/915/… –  Doresoom Nov 1 '10 at 17:12
1  
@Doresoom - you can't remove a close vote, but they do decay after a few days. So if no one else votes to close the question will remain open. –  ChrisF Nov 2 '10 at 22:34
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Use a hard, inexpensive local wood, without large pores. Hard, since they will get banged around. Pores will allow the wood to trap bacteria, dirt where you don't want it.

Maple is my first choice. Second choice might be birch, sycamore, or alder, if you have a source for them. Poplar is not bad either - cheap, reasonably tough. Cherry would work too. Much depends on what you can find locally. Do NOT go to your local big box store (Home Depot, etc.) to buy hardwood. Hardwood bought there will be quite expensive for what you get.

Woods that I would NOT use are imported exotic woods. These can often cause allergic reactions. Another wood to be avoided for this purpose is walnut, which might cause reactions in some.

Use wood coloring, rather than paint. Paint can chip off, and may not be food safe. And be careful with stains, since many of them will not be food safe. Wood dyes, like aniline dyes, may also be something I would not put in my child's mouth. For a coloring, I would use simple food coloring.

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I'd recommend something like maple. I've seen wooden toy making demonstrations at craft fairs and they almost all used maple.

As for coloring I'd do a test with some food grade dyes or colorants. You can buy gel and paste colorants from a cake decorating store and they're very vibrant and (obviously) safe to eat.

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One thing to consider it that the blocks will be banged against each other and wall, doors, floors etc. so using a stain rather than paint might be the better option.

It won't chip so will leave the blocks in better condition for longer.

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