Query on red oak and poplar as wood toy block materials

OK, the local furniture manufacturer down the street throws out lOTS of red oak and poplar scraps. I have dumpster diving rights (I went and asked!). They also throw out some 3/4" thick plywood scraps, 3/16 OSB and some NICE 1/4 (or 3/8) birch plywood, that I use when building wargaming scenery.
Most of the red oak and poplar is small stuff (4x6 or smaller, and 3/4 thickness or so), though occasionally I do get some longer strips.
Would this stuf make good blocks for kids? I am planning using a mineral oil finish, or maybe a Krylon kids paint on the poplar, thinned down to an almost stainlike consistency.
I can get enough of this stuff to make blocks for every kid in the country, and if it is sueful, I might even start a small business doing it.
Any ideas, suggestions, advice would be handy.
Thanks, Dave
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Bo asks:

Could be thicker, but wood glue works nicely. Poplar is probably better than ed oak, which has a tendency to splinter. Poplar works easily. It dents fairly easily, too, but shouldn't be too bad with young children when used with other poplar parts.
There are literally hundreds of paint type finishes. I'm not familiar with Krylon paints outside ye olde spray cans, so don't know what the kid's finishes are like. It sounds appealing, though.
Good luck.
Charlie Self
"Men willingly believe what they wish." Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico
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Red oak would not be on my list, though, over my objections, I have made even cradles of the stuff. Open-grained to collect anything, brittle if hit or chewed doesn't seem a proper combination.
Tulip-poplar (yellow poplar, etc) would be better. If actual poplar like aspens or even cottonwoods, superb. Can't get a splinter out of that stuff, no matter how hard you try. That's why the Finns put it on their sauna benches. That, and the curious fact that it feels cool to the touch when the walls will blister your fingers.
I'd dye the wood and put an occlusive finish like shellac on it rather than make a dirt magnet by using mineral oil. Those dust wipes that are so ubiquitous now all feature non-drying mineral oil, and you can see what happens there. Rockler, Woodcraft and others have kid-safe stuff to color the wood.

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\Bo" Mathews wrote:

This leaves me depresesed. I have a similar deal, but the last time I went in search of goodies, there were no goodies to be had, because they hadn't been *making* much of anything. Instead of the usual small but useful bits, there were just a few 1/2" strips of plywood and other little things too small to be worth diving for.
It's sad. Those fine folks are probably going to be out of a job sooner, rather than later. Another American manufacturer down the drain. :(
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Poplar is the first choice on any toy that a kid is going to chew on, next is white pine then maple. All are nontoxic and hard to splinter when the wood is wet, and can be readily digested by the child. Oak and other hard woods have a greater weight and can cause more/worse injuries when thrown and more of a tendency to split and splinter. On the paint, there are many very good child friendly paints out there, some of the best and cheapest are at you local "Borg" all water based interior paints are nontoxic when dry (by fed law) and can be used on toys. I prefer gloss paints myself basic colors, red, green, blue. Most of the stuff in spray cans can be used, check the msds first. Stains are not good on children's toys mainly because they do not hold up as well as paint and are not as bright, I use stain to highlight the colors to make them show up better or go with unfinished wood and painted wood for contrast. The main problem is finish of the product , NO sharp edges or corners ANYWHERE on the product, no splits in the wood anywhere and if you glue up you should dowel the glueups for extra safety, and use a water restient glue.

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