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Scrap Wood Sculpture

Scrap Wood Sculpture
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Students will use a box of scrap wood to make masterpieces.

By Andrea Mulder-Slater



  • Students will see that there are many shapes and objects that can be created from other shapes and objects.


  • Students will create a sculpture using bits and pieces of scrap wood.


  • Students will learn to appreciate the art created not only by them, but by others as well.

What You Need:

  • Scrap pieces of wood (find these at the lumber yard, local furniture maker or in a handyman’s basement)
  • Glue
  • Nails and a hammer for older kids
  • Screws and a screwdriver
  • Tempera paint (or other water-based paint – powdered or liquid)
  • Paintbrushes and sponges
  • Water and water containers
  • Empty yogurt or margarine containers
  • A covered work area
  • Paint smocks or old shirts
  • Found objects (buttons, beads, bits of colorful wire etc.)

What You Do:

  1. Lay out a pile of wood scraps on the floor and encourage your students to pick and choose a number of pieces each.
  2. As they move the wood pieces around, your students will begin to see shapes and creatures appearing. The object here is not to create a sculpture of anything in particular, but rather to explore and investigate shapes interacting with one another.
  3. Once there are some ideas floating around, the pieces of wood can be attached to one another to make wonderful sculpture.
  4. Younger students should be encouraged to work with glue and with adult help, they can use screws to fit the wood together.
  5. Older artists can use nails and hammers to build up their sculptures.
  6. Using paintbrushes and sponges, students can color their sculpture by applying the tempera wood stain (see recipe at the bottom of this lesson).
  7. Finally, found object embellishments can be added to complete the picture.

Scrap wood sculpture

How to Make Tempera Wood Stain

It would be a pity to use thick and gooey paint to cover up the wonderful designs and patterns found in the wood grain. At the same time, using wood stain is just not practical in a classroom or other enclosed area as the fumes can be quite toxic. The solution? A non-toxic, water-based tempera wood stain. Here we go…


  • powdered or liquid tempera
  • water
  • several jars or containers
  • a stick or paintbrush for mixing


  • Place a small amount of tempera paint in a container.
  • Add water (about 1 part paint to 3 parts water).
  • Using a stick or paintbrush, mix the paint and water thoroughly.
  • Once you think you have the right consistency, apply some of the tempera wood stain to a scrap piece of wood. Too light? Add more paint. Too dark? Add more water.
  • Store the stain in containers with lids. You will have to mix the stain up before you use it as the paint will have a tendency to settle at the bottom.

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