Carve a miniature Tiki mask and color it cheaply and eco-friendly

Picture of Carve a miniature Tiki mask and color it cheaply and eco-friendly
In this instructable I want to show you how you can carve a miniature tiki mask from scrap wood.

For non-toxic coloring and finishing, I used boiled linseed oil and coloured pencils.

I only used the most basic tools and materials, so almost everyone should be able to do this for free or at a very low cost.

A warning to all woodworking/carving professionals out there:
I am not a professional carver. In fact, this was my very first attempt at carving anything.
Please forgive me if I made stupid noobie-mistakes, but feel free to comment.

Also, I am not a native english speaker, so please excuse my spelling or grammar mistakes but please feel free to correct me.


I made a second tiki mask which I posted as slideshow:
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Step 1: Tools and materials

Picture of Tools and materials

scrap piece of wood from the hardware store (probably pinewood)


for marking
- pencil
- ruler

for carving:
- optional: chisel for shaping the piece of wood
- various types of exacto knives (try to figure out which blades work best for you)
- sharpening tools for the blades
- a bristle brush to remove the wood shavings (you could also blow them away but that's more messy)
- superglue to replace wood pieces that broke away and to seal cuts in your fingers
  (you don't want blood on your wood and band-aids are annoying when handling small objects and knives)

for coloring and finishing:
- colored pencils
- Blu-tack
- steel wool
- boiled linseed oil
- cotton swabs to apply linseed oil
- paper towels to remove excess oil

MichiganM6 months ago

is it easy and how fast can someone make it because i am thinking to have it as a bonus to an assesmentt task that is due 9th october

jreynolds iii11 months ago
Thumbs up! nice results,especially for your first go at carving. (bonus points if you kept all your fingers attached)
sorry it double posted! its my first attempt at the internet.
jreynolds iii11 months ago
Thumbs up! nice results,especially for your first go at carving. (bonus points if you kept all your fingers attached)
abehambino12 months ago
For rounding the wood, you might want to try a hand plane. I used a cheap one to round off a hiking stick and the results where quite good. The end result is similar to what you would have if you used a knife but trust me, it's easier and a lot faster. Great carving! Keep it up! Woodcarving is fun and very rewarding.
majjuss (author)  abehambino12 months ago


thank you so much for your positive feedback and the great tip!

If you haven't noticed yet, I have made a second instructable with pictures of my second tiki ;)

A few days ago, I found the two small tikis I made and I really want to carve another one soon. I will absolutely try to round the wood with a hand plane. I'm just worried that the small piece of wood might be hard to handle with a hand planer without cutting myself. So, maybe I will round a longer piece of wood and cut it to tiki-sized bits after rounding.

wow!!! great project simple
knexmatrix1 year ago
Oh My Stars!
turbobug3 years ago
Like the carvings, Looks like a cool project. I would like to use them for wood carving this summer at camp.

Just some interesting facts about your last page. My aunt would always point out Non-toxic just means that it wont kill you right away. And boiled Linseed oil is mostly harmless (don't drink it for breakfast) however the fast drying kind in the big box stores has heavy metals in it which are toxic (again don't drink for breakfast.
majjuss (author)  turbobug3 years ago
Hi, thanks for your comment! Please feel free to use it for your summer camp!
It would be great if you shared some pictures!

I don't know for sure which additives were in my linseed oil, but I think they have to be declared on the bottle, I will look at the bottle's label when I get home!

I seem to remember reading somewhere that they don't have to be listed on the bottle only on the msds sheet. It would be just fine as long as you don't eat it or put it on something you were going to eat off of. I will take pictures.
Nice work, and Thanks for sharing your project. There's no one consistent type of Tiki because it is a general umbrella term for a style of carving mainly from Polynesia, but it might be worth thinking about what your Tiki represents?

An "Air" or "Sky" spirit might have birdlike attributes and be decorated with Feathers, while an "Earth" or "Forrest" spirit might be more tree like and decorated with leaves. Think also about Rock, Fire, and Sea Spirits, things that primitive island people might venerate.

If you are doing this project with Children in mind, they might find it interesting to invent the myth of their particular Tiki, explaining who it is and what it does.
majjuss (author)  Dream Dragon3 years ago

thanks for sharing this interesting information!
Maybe it will give me some inspiration when I carve my next tiki.
looks really good, and so simple, a great start to a fabulous hobby, well done !
Bersa3 years ago
What do you think about trying it with bones, making it like a pendant?
majjuss (author)  Bersa3 years ago
I think that would be possible. But maybe you would have to use different tools for working with bone.. I imagine bone to be kind of hard and way more brittle than the soft wood I used in this project.
I don't know if the coloring process will work for bone.
I wouldn't use boiled linseed oil for finishing bone, as it changes to a yellowish colour when it oxidizes. This would discolour the bone material.
You could use a runny type of cyanoacrylate (superglue) to soak the material after coloring with the pencil. This will strengthen the material and could bond the pigment to the bone. After the glue has bonded, the piece can be polished, but I don't know how much of the pigment will remain.

If you try it, please let me know how it worked!
this is an excelent first carring
majjuss (author)  yeolddingdong3 years ago
Thank you!
It was a lot of fun and I plan on making a few siblings for him as I have some wood chunks of the same size left over :)
Aron3133 years ago
Can you use bamboooooo?
majjuss (author)  Aron3133 years ago
maybe one could use bamboo, but the stuff is quite hard, so I wouldn't recommend it for a first attempt at carving...
I've seen quite a few bamboo tikis, but the designs mainly consisted of shallow grooves, maybe they were done with rotary tools.
AleksL3 years ago
Красиво,такое произведение и в музее выставить не грех.
tinker2343 years ago
wow nice