How to paint, stain, or wax the cradle
You can easily paint the cradle a solid color or apply gesso to the sides, but there are a couple of other treatment options you can try. If you are going to paint or gesso the plywood cradles, be sure to seal the wood first with either Golden GAC100 or Gamblin PVA Size.
One option is to stain the edge of the cradle. Any type of wood stain will work. Choose from a regular wood stain or a stain that also has a protective finish built in. Gel stain is easier to apply and control, but the liquid stains work well too. For this demonstration, we used an oil-based wood stain from Minwax® in an oak finish. Start by sanding the cradle with either a sanding block or handheld electric sander to remove any paint or loose wood fibers. Clean the edges with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Apply the oil-based stain with a soft cloth or brush and allow it to dry for several hours. Apply multiple coats until the stain reaches the depth of color you desire. After the stain is completely dry, you can apply varnish or lacquer for a glossier finish.
If you like the look of the birch plywood, you might try waxing the sides for a furniture type finish. It’s very easy to do and makes for a clean presentation. Start by sanding the cradle with either a sanding block or handheld electric sander to remove any paint or loose wood fibers. Clean the edges with a damp cloth to remove any dust. For this demonstration, we used Minwax® paste finishing wax. Please read all directions on product labeling first. Then, apply paste wax with a soft cloth and rub into the wood thoroughly. Allow the wax to dry for about 15 minutes. Buff with a soft cloth to shine. For a high gloss finish, apply a second coat and buff to the desired level of shine.