Wood-burning is an ancient art. It’s officially called pyrography and it’s been around since the dawn of recorded history if you can believe that!
Of course, as centuries passed, wood-burning evolved and went from simple and crude depictions to sometimes mind-blowing works of art.
And here are 5 reasons why YOU should try it:
- It’s easy to pick-up and learn
- The materials and tools are cheap
- It’s very relaxing
- Knowing how to draw is entirely optional
Convinced yet? Time to get the basics down!
The Materials and Tools for Wood-Burning
For a simple project (which is what we want) all you’ll need is:
- 1 piece of wood: it can be virtually any size, but try something small first to get the hang of it (more tips below!)
- 1 pencil: to draw the art you’re burning on the wood.
- 1 soldering iron or woodturning kit: a simple soldering iron will do, but you can find lots of accessible wood-burning Kits that come with different tips to experiment with.
- 1 simple sketch or drawing: you can either draw something yourself or simply use a pre-made drawing, it’s up to you!
- carbon paper (optional): it helps if you want to transfer a drawing you printed onto the wood.
- 1 pen: useful if you want to use the carbon paper method.
- sandpaper (optional): depending on the wood you have, it won’t be necessary.
The Types of Wood You Can Use
Almost any kind of wood is good enough for wood-burning. So if you have wood readily available that you can use for pyrography, it should work!
Just remember that hardwood needs a really hot pen for the engraving to work, while softwood burns fine with a lower temperature.
To start right away, you can:
- Scrap leftover wood from boxes, fences, or other carpentry projects.
- Purchase something already made of wood to engrave on - wooden boxes are available in many shapes and sizes in stores.
- Use wooden cutting boards or wooden spoons!
How to Find Beautiful Art You Can Use
You can use virtually any drawing you find on the internet.
For beginners, it’s recommended you go for black and white outlines and shapes. These are easier to draw by hand and won’t take long to finish!
It’s entirely possible to use shading in wood-burning to create stunning works of art, but it’s a more complex technique for when you’re more experienced!
For now, try something like these:
Example 1: Great for practice! Simply save the image from here and print it!
Example 2: Try this one to practice your curved lines. Find it here!
Example 3: Beautiful woodland patterns you can also freely draw and get inspired by. Found here!
Example 4: A minimalistic mountain you can sketch freely. Save the image right here!
Example 5: Perfect for your first craft; you don’t even need a template - it’s just dots and straight lines! Get it here.
These are easy enough that you can draw freely directly onto the wood with your pencil, or use carbon paper to transfer the outlines more accurately!
Preparing the Wood for Burning
The very first thing you’ll want to do is prepare the wood by sanding it. This is especially useful if you’re dealing with hardwood or if the surface is grainy.
Then, you’re ready to get the drawing you picked onto the wood!
Setting Up Your Drawing
If the art you want is simple, you can simply pick up the pencil and draw it yourself - no mystery there!
Alternatively, you can ask someone you know to draw something nice for you!
But if you want the perfect transfer from a drawing you found, go for the carbon paper method.
Measure the wood piece you’re using and use that number to print out a copy of the drawing on paper. You can do that by inserting the image you want into Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Apple Pages. Then, the fun part begins:
- Print the drawing you want and make sure it fits the piece of wood you’re going to use.
- Place the printed sheet under the carbon paper and draw the outlines softly with a pencil (it doesn’t have to be super perfect).
- Once you’re done, place the carbon paper onto the wood and now with a pen, draw the outlines over the carbon paper with a little more pressure - that way the ink will transfer onto the wood’s surface. You can keep the carbon paper in place with tape.
- Done - it’s ready for the burning part!
Want some more advanced transfer tips? Here you go!
Let’s Finally Do Some Wood-Burning!
Make sure your soldering iron or wood-burning kit is hot enough - but don’t test it with your hands! EVER! Instead, use a scrap or leftover piece of wood to check if the temperature is right. If you see too much smoke, it means it’s too hot.
A nice tip for before you start is simply experimenting with the tool you’re using for a few minutes on another piece of wood, just to get a feel for it - especially if it’s your first time. Just draw freely and get used to the weight of the tool, the pressure you’ll be using, how the heat reacts on the wood, and so on.
To start, softly press the soldering iron or wood-burning tool you’re using over the outlines you’ve drawn before. Do this slowly and carefully, making sure the line is dark enough.
If you’re not confident making long steady lines, that’s OK - most people aren’t. Instead, try making very short lines one at a time always with the same pressure.
Here are some other great tips for your first wood-burning craft:
- Try different tips on your soldering iron or wood-burning kit for different results.
- The look of your wood-burning will depend on the pressure you’re applying and the heat temperature.
- Moving the tip slowly will make darker outlines while moving it faster will create a faded burn - this is good to control how dark you want the outlines to be.
- Take your time - wood-burning is to be done calmly.
- For perfectly straight lines, use a metal ruler.
There! Excited to try your first wood-burning project?
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