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Finishing Children's Toys and Furniture

Finishing Children's Toys and Furniture

How to seal new, raw timber children's play equipment.

Gilly’s range of food safe oils and waxes are perfect for nourishing and protecting timber that is likely to be gnawed by adventurous children. All products are made from top quality, food grade, raw materials. Along with preventing cracking due to dryness, Gilly’s oils and Food Safe Wax serve to create an easy-to-clean surface. 

We believe that Gilly’s oils and waxes are the natural and superior method for finishing childrens furniture and toys.

Because oils and waxes are natural, they do wear down over a period of time but they are easily repaired. This can be done in specific areas of wear rather than having to strip and re-apply entirely as happens when lacquer starts to break down. Most lacquers do contain petrochemicals, so once the finish begins to break down, children are potentially ingesting pieces of these lacquers. 

Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, a waxed or oiled finish retains the natural ‘feel’ of the timber. This is valuable for the sensory experience of the developing child. 

Dealing with Raw Timber on Children's Toys

You have unboxed and assembled your lovely new climbing frame. Before the little ones make a beeline for it with their sticky fingers, you will want to moisturise and seal it first.

Children Playing on Timber Equipment by Moovbaby

For the Gilly’s premium finish, we recommend using one of our oils first. Choose from the Liquid Beeswax (a rich blend of plant based oils, citrus solvent and beeswax with a subtle citrus aroma) or the vegan options of Orange Oil Furniture Polish (delicious aroma of freshly-peeled oranges) or Chopping Board Oil (fresh, zesty fragrance - May Chang essential oil). One 250ml bottle will easily finish one climbing frame with some to spare for re-application if needed down the track (or to finish oiling all the other fun wooden toys you couldn’t resist buying!).

Bag of irregular coloured blocks by Earthside

How to apply:

  1. If the timber is not brand new, ensure that the surface is clean and dry. A good going over with an eco-friendly cleaner is ideal. If you have any citrus solvent on hand (such as Gilly’s Citrus Thin), this is good for removing greasy spots and marks.
  2. Allow the wood to dry. Grab a cloth or brush and apply the oil. Raw timber is generally quite thirsty. Take note of how much sinks in - this will give you an idea of how liberally to apply. The fibres are like a sponge and they will saturate at some point. If there is any excess after about 30 minutes, wipe this away. You may need to apply up to 3 coats if the timber is very absorbent. This is a good thing as it will be preventing splitting from occurring. Leave to dry overnight and it’s ready for play. Should it become dull or dry looking in the next few weeks, simply add a little more oil. In most cases, this won’t be necessary.
  3. For that extra layer of protection to help seal in the nourishing oils, you can apply our Food Safe Wax (please note, this product contains soy wax). Soft, creamy and very easy to apply, do so sparingly. It is better to layer it up with very fine coats. Buff each application in a circular motion and allow around 30 minutes to dry between each coat. If you feel like it, you can buff vigorously to create a lovely sheen. This process also warms the wax and helps bind it to the timber.

Maintaining Your Natural Finish

Boy playing on Moovbaby  Timber Play Equipment

Once the piece of furniture or toy is nicely saturated with oil and/or wax, it will provide a sustained, protective finish. However, there are circumstances where the surface will need to be repaired or re-applied. Perhaps the toys will need to be washed with hot, soapy water, which will wear away a natural finish. Or maybe, the furniture is left in the full sun too many times. Either way, you won't have to start from scratch. Just a quick wipe over with the oil and it will be good as new. Finish with a coat of the Food Safe Wax, if that's your preference. Polish and admire!

A Note on Coloured Toys

For those who are finishing toys painted with any of the varieties of non-toxic paints, the finish may react with the citrus solvent in our main food safe (Orange Oil, Lemon Chopping Board Oil, Liquid Beeswax) range, causing to smear (or possibly blister in the case of acrylic paints). The Food Safe Wax is likely the better option, as it contains less of the citrus solvent and will dry hard. In any case, its always a good idea to test in an inconspicuous area first.

One other option from Gilly's range, is finishing with our Pure Tung Oil. This is a nice, safe alternative, when applied without mixing in any solvent. Tung Oil however, does need up to 30 days to cure. If you're not in a hurry though, it is a good option over both watercolour and acrylic paints. You can learn more about tung oil in our blog: 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Tung Oil.

Furniture Use Outdoors

If your equipment gets left outside in the weather more than you'd like, Gilly's Kitchen Bench Oil is an excellent way to give the timber a more robust and water repellent finish. This product takes a little more time and effort to apply. It does contain a petroleum-derived solvent but is food safe when cured, (though we would recommend this finish for children beyond the mouthing stage). This process takes up to 30 days. You can read more about applying it here.

Images courtesy of Moovbaby - 100% Australian made quality timber climbing and play equipment. Leigh from Moovbaby has this to say about Gilly's products: "We love the range Gilly's provides, an Australian owned and manufactured product, that gives a beautiful finish to children's toys and furniture that are designed to last years with the right care. Our customers can't recommend them highly enough too".


  • Posted by Gilly's Customer Service on

    Hi Rob, any of the food safe range of oils and the Food Safe Wax are lovely to use on children’s furniture. Probably the most popular and easy to use would be the Liquid Beeswax. It can be brushed on and is an excellent, nourishing seal for the timber. If you would like to add a sheen, then the Food Safe Wax will work very well over the Liquid Beeswax.

  • Posted by Sara from Gilly's Customer Service on

    Hi Crystal, yes, all of the food safe range can be used to seal plywood.

  • Posted by Rob Scali on

    Can you please advise which product to use for babies cot. Timber is raw radiata pine. Thanks

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