Where would we be without the internet to introduce us to all of the skills, hobbies and competitions we’d never have imagined people are engaging in across the globe? Well here’s a new one—new to us, at least. Wood planing is the art of shaving wood into very thin strips, and there’s a select group of experts in Japan who compete to shave off the thinnest piece of wood possible.
You might think to yourself, “Sure, I can shave a pretty thin piece of wood,” (OK, who are we kidding—you’ve probably never had that thought), but you might want to think again. Each year, participants compete at the annual Kezuroukai exhibition in Japan, where the practice originated, to see who can shave the thinnest piece of wood. These experts slice pieces of wood that are measured in just microns. To put things into perspective, a micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. The thinnest wood shaving on record was just 3 microns, which is 10 times thinner than a human hair and even smaller than a blood cell.
At the exhibition, each competitor is assigned a bench, where they spend two hours working on their technique and adjusting their tools. Once the contest starts, they have three tries to shave off the thinnest piece in front of a judge. Since the type of wood is important, participants can bring in their own wood that they believe will yield the best results.
We have to admit, this peculiar practice is pretty fascinating to watch. You might be good with your wood shop tools, but it takes a special type of talent to shave these extremely thin pieces of wood. Apparently those who shave the thinnest strips earn eternal glory though—so maybe you’re up for the challenge?