The Art of Pyrography {AKA Wood Burning}

Pyrography (aka wood burning) has been around for centuries and is such a unique way to customize a piece of wood or leather. This blog post will share some wood burning tips and links to video demos so you can practice at home!

First thing’s first: SAFETY! Here are some of our top safety tips to keep in mind before you start wood burning:

  1. The most obvious - these tools are HOT (anywhere from 600-1000 degrees hot). It’s important never to touch the tips of the tool, and to make sure your tool is secure on the stand before letting go.

  2. Use a scrap piece of wood to test your tool before putting it directly on your wooden surface.

  3. Make sure you’re working in a well ventilated area. Burning wood causes smoke, and it’s dangerous if directly inhaled over a long period of time.

  4. If you change tips throughout your project, place the unused ones in a ceramic dish.

  5. Never leave a plugged in tool unattended!

Popular types of wood to burn include beech, birch, sycamore, maple, pine and walnut. The lighter color grain makes the burned design really stand out.

Here are some wood burning tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep a piece of scrap wood when using your wood burning tool. It helps to check if the tool is hot enough, if the mark is dark enough, etc.

  • Keep cord behind the hand you’re using to make your design, so it doesn’t get in the way

  • Outline your entire design first, then come back and fill in with the point (like you’re coloring it). This helps “seal” off the rest of the wood (and helps if your design has a thick line)

  • You can use graphite or carbon paper to transfer your drawing/design to your surface it

  • Let the tool do the work - no need to use lots of pressure on the tool - the heat will make the burn mark bleed

Lastly, different wood grains achieve different burned looks. It takes a lot of practice to create a professional look and isn’t meant to be perfect. The cutting boards we used for our workshop project have a tighter wood grain, so the end design won’t be perfect. That’s what makes it charming!

*Here’s a good video tutorial to get you started
*Here’s a link to a good wood burner tool

*Image provided by Assembly PDX