Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sustainable Handsaw Success

If you're going go to the effort of sawing something, you really ought to have the gratification of making it all the way through whatever it is you're working on. Like hammering, sawing requires a combination of good "aim" and force, a balancing act made all the more difficult if the wood in question resists your efforts. 

For young children sawing "success" means having small pieces of fairly soft wood available. Our commitment to using scrap wood, however, often leaves that particular material in short supply and explains why so much of our wood bears the faint marks to unsuccessful sawing efforts as children give up without experiencing the feeling of sawing air on that last stroke of a successful cut. Pointing out to the kids, "Look, you're making saw dust," just isn't enough of a reward for all that effort.

The kids aren't the only ones who've been frustrated by this phenomenon. I'd actually come to the point that I was considering spending good money on small scraps of soft craft wood, but last week I had the epiphany that cork is, indeed, wood (the bark of the cork oak), it's soft and we in the Woodland Park community seem to have the ability to produce an endless supply.

Pop them in a vise and even the 2-year-olds are having success.

I love that they're able to successfully saw off "cork cookies," even while working on the technique they'll need before moving on to bigger and better things.

Don't forget your eye protection. Happy sawing!

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Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

What a fabulous idea! We have a HUGE supply of cork too.... Thanks again Tom!

Lindsey said...

I found some scrap balsa wood as part of a model kit in a thrift store and that was absolutely fantastic for the two and three year olds here to practise using the hacksaw with. It was a bunch of inch diameter dowelling. Know anyone that's into model building that might have some spare?

MOM #1 said...

So cute! I know I've said it before, but I REALLY want to go to your preschool. I'm sure I'd have LOTS of fun there. ;-)

Play for Life said...

We were REALLY lucky last year, "Reverse Art" seemed to have an endless supply of pine timber all year round. The children had a great time sawing it up on several occasions, none more so than when they made their geoboard. Our biggest problem was we didn't have a vice so used giant clamps to hold the wood to the work bench but that was not really ideal. Next time I do this with children I'll be sure to take my free standing vice with me. Oh and safety goggles, I should take them as well!
Donna :) :)

Barbara Zaborowski said...

What about pieces of foam board, instead of (or in addition to)corks, for sawing? They would have the benefit of having an easy side (the flat side)as well as a more difficult side (turned 90 degrees).

Marla McLean, Atelierista said...

Somehow I am 27 posts behind, damn you're prolific! I'm still thinking about my first post of the new year.
Anyways, my school community seems to create an endless supply of cork too. Thanks for sharing this idea, I'm pulling out my vice and giving it a try.