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Which wood for very young woodworkers?!

Woodworking people please!

The Reception teacher at my primary school wants to do some beginner-woodworking with her class (not all at the same time!) but is unsure what sort of wood to use which would be reasonably easy to work with (not balsa) - saws will be used, don't know what other tools we have.

She's been told elder is good (apparently you can push the middle out with a tent peg and saw it up to make beads!) but what else might be suitable?

sycamore is clean, cheap and food safe. Its also nice to turn/finish.

I also like sycamore, fairly light and easy to work. Alder is also a light wood, easy to work. If fresh the cut surfaces go bright orange which adds interest.

Thank you, I will pass that on. There is a lot of knowledge on downsizer!

by reception class i assume 5yr olds.

so as above elder beads seem a good idea,sycamore spoons might be a step too far but a basic spatula from thinish narrow strip of sycamore cut with a saw/split to give the paddle/handle and sanded smooth should be a possible,and you get rulers,set squares
(basic half lap joint) and angle gauges(easier.than set squares as tis just drill a hole through two strips and fit a wing nut and bolt) from the offcuts.

with a full length of 50 x 25 they could each make a piece of a jenga set by sawing off a length and sanding it smooth

for bigger but simple projects if the job is broken down by ability level there are bits for all of them to do successfully

an over under thicknesser might be a bad idea but having taught my 4 yr old to saw with a gents saw,sand,scrape etc basic tools are fairly safe and fun.

Also tulip wood. Cheap, very stable and easy to work. Used a lot by furniture makers for the frame work of cabinets etc. Avoid the hard woods as they can be pigs at times and for a young beginner hard to get decent results first time. Sycamore, as said is good, beech isn't too bad either. Both have nice even grains.


Smile again, thank you all!
Mistress Rose

I make spatulas out of sycamore and have made spoons from it too. It is easy to work, so a good idea. You can also make whistles out of elder by removing the pith, bobbins for weaving or other jobs where you need to hold thread and put the bobbin on a central stick, and of course beads.

Beech is fine to work when it is green, but not so good for spatulas as I have found it sometimes splits, so you end up with a one sided spatula. Brilliant for turning though, although I wouldn't expect them to get to that stage.
john of wessex

Getting a bunch of 5 year olds to make whistles..............

On your own head be it...........

Half could make drum sticks?

Gosh yes, whistles & drumsticks, we could make our own Revolutionary War band... Laughing
Mistress Rose

I wouldn't recommend whistles, but I know kids like something noisy. Perhaps bobbins or beads would be quieter.

Another thing they might like is hazel. You can make lots of things out of lengths of the rods, either tacked together or drilled and wired. Some ideas are; hanging trees of shortening lengths, beads, stick pets, plant pot holders.
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