Using the Etch A Sketch for drawing or doodling is exactly what the toy was designed for—and it's also what it's completely terrible at. You might as well be tying your hands behind your back when you trade a pencil for a pair of knobs, but Jonathan Odom has found a way to turn the Etch A Sketch's weaknesses into strengths with a tiny zen garden you groom with a similar pair of hand-cranked dials.
His hand-made XYZen Garden works pretty much exactly like an Etch A Sketch does, except all of the wooden pulleys and brass crossbeams needed to make it work are left exposed, which just adds to its charm. And instead of a sharp point scraping silver powder off a plastic screen, the XYZen Garden has a small tool that carves lines in a shallow bed of sand.
It's far more complicated than using a tiny rake, but as a stress reliever it's a much better way to distract your mind. And Odom has even posted the instructions on how to build your own over on Instructables, if you've got access to enough woodworking tools. [Instructables via designboom]