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
    Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


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

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