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 (wrcla.org) 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