I'm making a board game with blocks, both made of thin plywood. I don't know what type of wood it is; (it is light in colour and weight and rather soft) I would like to coat the wood eventually (which will be pyrographed) for more strength and protection, but I don't know what would be suitable to use for the purpose (there is a wide variety of products and I'm not very well familiar with them).

It will be good if it doesn't emit toxic fumes but I need it to provide more protection that mere linseed oil. Shellac is not an option (due to high price and lack of availability).

  • The 'no toxic fumes' thing is a major stumbling block here since most finishes that are particularly protective (varnish and lacquer) will have a significant solvent component. Now nothing that is available to the general public is so toxic that they're dangerous in normal use but it seems like you'd prefer not to use them at all? If so then your best bet may be a waterbased floor varnish if one is available where you are at a suitable price. They're made to be very durable and tough but in some markets they can be relatively expensive. – Graphus Mar 16 at 15:55

I'm a big fan of a water based polyurethane for projects like this (linked as a reference not an endorsement).

  • Easy to clean up
  • Stays clear over time (no ambering)
  • Very durable
  • Easy to apply
  • There is a smell on application but it is mild and goes away when dry

If you wanted your game to have a color other than the wood color I'd go with stain over paint. Stain would go on first and then the poly.

Just to be clear, the pyrographing would be done before the finish is applied


Polyurethane would probably be a good option.

  • 5
    Maybe explain why you think this is a good option? It's always good to flesh out an answer a little more with pertinent details. – jdv May 14 at 20:28
  • 2
    In addition to @jdv's suggestion it would be good to specify exactly what you're suggesting. There are at least three distinct products that may be referred to in shorthand just as polyurethane and they're basically completely different things (one awesome, one great and the third less reliably good). – Graphus May 15 at 5:02

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