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Miniature wood carving is the most meditative hobby
Miniature wood carving is the most meditative hobby

All you need is a piece of wood, a knife, a pencil and a pair of compasses and you are ready to learn Zen.

Miniature wood carving is the most meditative hobby
Miniature wood carving is the most meditative hobby

When you get tired of looking at your computer and smartphone screens, it's time to take up a non-digital hobby. As a rule, working with wood requires sufficient free space and special tools. However, for a miniature geometric carving, you only need a knife and a workpiece, and the process and the result of the work are a lot of fun.

I began to engage in carving as a child, first on my own, then visiting the neighboring house of creativity and a place with the cosmic name "Station of young technicians". Then a computer appeared at home, and in the end I became an engineer, which is generally very good. However, I did not want to leave carving. Therefore, I concentrated on the most ascetic style in terms of the tools used - geometric carving, while focusing on drawing, composition and technique and creating complex ornaments.

It is one of the traditional and oldest types of wood and stone carving. The method consists in cutting geometric shapes on a flat surface using one knife. As a rule, wood carvers start with geometric carving, but the real art lies in creating intricate designs with the right level of skill.

Required tools

  • Oblique knife (often just called "joint"). For example, No. 9 from Pfeil will do, but homemade options made from a hacksaw for metal have also proven themselves well.
  • Sharpening tools. I use a regular wooden ruler with GOI paste (green) applied to it. As a rule, it is quite enough with regular fine-tuning of the knife. If the joint needs to be re-sharpened, then an abrasive stone can be used.
  • Painting supplies. I use a regular mechanical pencil, plastic flexible ruler, compasses, and an eraser.

All these tools are easy to store in a regular pencil case, they do not take up much space. I even take them with me on my travels. Since the blade is very short, everything you need will fit into your carry-on luggage.

Materials (edit)

As soon as you have acquired the tools, the question arises where to get the wooden blank itself. If you are the lucky owner of a small carpentry workshop, you can carve a blank to your taste, otherwise use the services of joinery coworking spaces (which are becoming more and more popular). If you don't want to make a blank yourself, you can buy it both online and offline in stores of goods for hobby and creativity. There are a lot of proposals: these are boxes, boards, stands, decorations. If you want to sell your products to foreigners, pay attention to matryoshka dolls.

Here are some tips for choosing a blank:

  • Don't buy plywood. Just don’t. You won't cut anything out of it.
  • If you're just starting out, go for small pieces. A simple flat plank works best to minimize the risk of cutting.
  • The best material is linden. You can also try birch. If you do not have sufficient experience with more elite hard species (for example, with beech and oak), then it is better to practice some time on a linden tree first. Note that the harder the wood, the more often you will have to sharpen the knife.

I like the natural color and texture of wood, so I usually do not paint my work, but cover it with mastic. The wax sealant also provides a certain level of moisture protection. You can use floor polish or shoe polish - it can be colorless. I apply it with a regular toothbrush.

It should be borne in mind that the mastic hardens rather quickly, so if it lies unevenly, just heat the product, for example, over the stove, and brush it again.

For fans of color variations, there is a whole industry of paints and varnishes, but keep in mind that many stains do not have the most pleasant smell.


First you need to master the basics of geometric carving: how to form simple grooves, and then triangular elements. Usually, the cutter will first prick the triangle with a Y-shaped notch, and then remove three chips. This method is quite justified if the pattern is rather large, however, if we are talking about miniature carving, such pricking does not make any sense - it is easier to cut out the element right away.

It is most convenient to hold the knife in the same way as you hold a ballpoint pen - the accuracy of the movements will be the highest. A special thrill is cutting wood end surfaces. They are very soft and the knife goes like clockwork. But be careful: you have no room for error, due to the possibility of chipping, corrective cuts are highly undesirable.

In parallel with the practice of carving, special attention must be paid to the drawing. Actually, this is where real art begins. Try drawing a square, for example, and dividing it into triangles to create a pattern. After a dozen drafts, you will begin to understand what you like and what not.

Use a compass - it is much easier to make patterns with it. After hundreds of drafts, your own style will begin to form. My style is miniature and minimalism. The cut out element can be less than a millimeter, and the pattern must be a harmonious combination.

A few tips:

  • Try combining star-shaped elements with long, elongated strokes.
  • Use curved lines. They are more difficult to cut, but the curved elements add dynamism to the design.
  • Leave spaces and emphasize (for example, depth).
  • Play with the size of the elements.
  • If your skill level allows, try the so-called three-dimensional geometric carving, where you carve another in one cutout element.

A small box can contain over 1,000 cut pieces. For such an occupation, you need a lot of patience and perseverance. A mistake (for example, a chip) can ruin the whole work, so special concentration and accuracy is required. All this makes carving one of the most meditative hobbies.