Woodburning is a timeless craft, and with the right approach it can become one of your favorite pastimes.
Pyrography is the art of writing on objects using heat, and has been around for ages. Throughout history, our ancestors have used this method for decorating instruments, tools, and clay bowls.
It’s also been used for leaving signatures and adding a unique touch to personal items. Read more about the history of pyrography here.
Around the Victorian era, people started doing this on wooden surfaces and creating pieces of art to hang, rather than using it for simple signatures or minor decorations.
It didn’t take long for woodburning to become its own distinguished art form. This pursuit is as popular as ever and more easily accessible than it was before. Looking at finished woodburning work, it’s easy to see why so many want to get into it.
via Daily Mail
There are plenty of reasons to explore your creative side, even if you’re completely new to being artistic. Getting started in the world of wood burning is fun, inexpensive, and versatile.
Use it to spruce up your existing projects, or do it for its own sake. All you will need is an appropriate wooden surface, a pen for wood burning, and a willingness to get started.
Woodburning Tips and Tricks To Get Your Craft Right
Whether you are new to the game or a seasoned wood burner looking to improve your skills, there are some principles that you should always stand by. These will help you have a fun, painless experience and end up with something beautiful to show for it every time.
Exercise Proper Caution
Sure, it sounds like common sense to be cautious when you’re using a heated tool, but it’s easy to get so absorbed in your work that you forget you’re holding a dangerous object.
You need to look out for not only your hands while doing this, but any surface you might accidentally set the pen on. Woodburning tools get very hot, so make sure you are only ever touching the handle until the pen cools down completely. When you must touch or remove the hot pen tip, do it with small pliers.
When you are switching out the tip, use pliers to insert the new one since certain pens will get hot very fast. While you are waiting for hot tips to cool down, you can place them in a metal, ceramic, or heat-safe glass bowl.
via NEN Gallery
In addition, always supervise kids who are woodburning to ensure that they stay safe. To make sure you’re considering every angle of health and caution, read more about woodburning safety and health here.
Start with Samples
I know you’re excited and anxious to get started with woodburning and create a masterpiece, but before you do, start out with a sample of the wood you’ll be using.
via TXRX Labs
This will let you gauge the way the wood reacts to heat and also gives you a chance to test out new ideas or techniques before committing to them. Setting aside time to practice like this will get you acquainted with the wood and prevent future mistakes on your final piece.
Once you have some practice, you can use free printable wood burning patterns to create something really special.
Use Carbon Paper
Most woodburning artists hope to be skilled enough to go free hand eventually, but tracing is helpful along the way. While the free hand method does allow you the most creative freedom, carbon paper will give you better accuracy, which is important for newcomers.
Put the sheet of carbon paper under your printed or drawn design, onto the board, and then use a pencil to trace and transfer it to the wood. You can then use your woodburning pen to follow along these lines.
Pick the Right Material
The material you choose for your project will impact its end result greatly. Woods that are softer and have less grain, such as pine or aspen, are good to start with for a simple and easy burning experience.
It’s possible to burn harder wood, but this requires more effort and time for a nice end result. Some artists use pallet wood since it’s typically cheap or free, but if you do this, make sure that the pallets are chemical free and have been sanded down to a smooth surface.
via Andertons Blog
Better yet, go to your local lumber yard or home center and purchase some pine boards. After a light sanding, they’ll be ready to go. Once you’ve experimented with some of these, you can move on to other woods like mahogany, butternut, or basswood. Lighter colored woods will give the highest level of contrast and depth.
Pick the Right Pen
A beginner to this craft might assume that wood burning is as easy as picking up a hot soldering iron and putting it to a piece of wood. There’s also a certain rugged appeal about approaching it this way.
Although this might work on certain types of wood, a real, quality woodburning pen will give you much greater detail and precision, especially with one of the best wood burning tools and pyrography pens.
You must also look into specific woodburning tips which will work with heat and give you options for patterns and thickness. Many woodburning artists have extra tips around for varying shapes sizes to add variety to their art.
Start Light and Add Layers as you Work
While working with your heat pen, it’s always possible to darken a light line later on. However, if you make a line darker than you wanted, it can’t be undone.
For this reason, it’s best to make your first lines lighter, then add layers as you go. This will ensure that you prevent unhappy accidents or mistakes, and also have a final image with more detail and depth from varying colors.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our list of cool wood burning ideas you can use to create something unique.