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Plywood is the best for the new beginners because it is easy for turning.
Huh? You must make very small things on your lathe ... and I disagree, plywood is nowhere near being best.

For spindle practice (e.g. practice turning beads), I use regular construction 2 by 4s ripped down to 2 x 2. Cheap & simple.

For "real work", whatever you can get free or cheap, my preference is maple (but that's just because there's lots of it around here.)
 
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