Expert Answers: Sealing a Cedar Toy Chest

Want to add a coat of protection to a piece of cedar furniture but don't know where to start? HANDY has the answer.

Q: I am trying to find out how to seal a cedar chest for my daughter to use as a toy box. Where can I find information on this topic? - Douglas Brinker, Fenton, MO

A: A cedar chest can be a great toy box, and you are wise to consider sealing the interior. Although cedar’s natural fragrance and insect-repelling properties are desirable for storing keepsakes and linens, in this case you have two good reasons to apply a finish: to create a washable surface and to help protect little people who may have allergies or sensitivities to cedar.

The Western Red Cedar Lumber Association ( offers many options for finishing interior cedar projects. Because low-solvent coatings are a preferred choice for children’s furniture, we recommend water-base acrylic polyurethane to seal the unfinished interior surfaces. Any sheen (flat, satin or gloss) will enhance cedar’s natural beauty; a higher gloss will provide a harder finish. Apply two to three coats, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

One additional suggestion: To prevent the trunk’s lid from closing on small hands or heads, be sure the trunk is equipped with spring-loaded lid supports. - HANDY