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I'm a GCSE student and for my exam I have to design a children's toy and I wanted a durable, non toxic and cheap wood for some of my designs that could be thrown around and be put into children's mouths without being damaged but I'm really struggling to find a one as different websites have different information.

  • Will you actually be making this after designing it? If so what's available to you will have to dictate the choice more than any other factor. That's probably the thing to investigate first, rather than asking what woods are suitable in the abstract. It's quite likely if you got 3-4 responses here that some recommendations would include woods you can't get locally, or can't afford. Edit: also, the nature of the toy is a big factor in what you can get away with using — if it's big and chunky softer woods can be used, if it's smaller or withthinner sections a tougher wood is indicated. – Graphus Jun 4 '17 at 16:13
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Take a look at what woods are commonly used for children's toys, and you'll see that a lot of the things made to be mouthed are made of maple or beech. These are both hard, fine grained, and are less prone to causing irritation. Because they are hard they don't dent or scratch easily. The fine grain means that even if they do splinter, they wont form large shards which could cause injury (unlike oak, for example). And finally, they have almost no smell, color, or chemistry that could even potentially cause problems (unlike walnut, cedar, etc).

  • The fruitwoods are often used too. Like apple, pear, etc. Also worth mentioning that if you get hard maple, it's the same tree used to produce maple syrup (by tapping into the tree). So it has a long history of being nontoxic. – jbord39 Jun 5 '17 at 14:04
  • @jbord39 That sort of association isn't a safeguard. Pine is nontoxic and you can eat the resin and make 'tea' from the needles, but it also yields turpentine which is toxic and a respiratory irritant. Then there's walnut which obviously yields an edible nut but the wood is mildly toxic. – Graphus Jun 5 '17 at 21:58
  • @Graphus: Good points. But I didn't mention pine or walnut. My understanding of fruitwood did not include walnut (or any nuts), and especially not pines. I just mentioned sugar maple in particular because it IS nontoxic. – jbord39 Jun 6 '17 at 15:26
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I would suggest any type of hard wood such as oak or maple. Softer woods like Spruce pine or fir are more likely to splinter in my opinion and that would not be good for your little ones. Make sure you sand whatever you make thoroughly so that it is smooth to the touch. Make sure all of the dust has been cleaned off of it. You can use lemon oil to coat the finished product and give it a clean shine. I would avoid stain and lacker on a children's toy as they may put the object in their mouths and there are a lot of chemicals in wood finishing products.

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    And there are no chemicals in "lemon oil"? If you think about it, there are chemicals in the plastics used to make the majority of children's toys (in fact they're entirely made of chemicals). Come to that there are a lot of chemicals in wood! Specifics are so important here and this Answer covers once cured most finishes can't be considered a hazard. – Graphus Jun 7 '17 at 7:19
  • @Graphus Shhhh... don't tell any one but there are chemicals in food!!! /sarcasm – FreeMan Jun 15 '17 at 13:43

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