Table of Contents
When most people think of working with wood, they usually cast their minds to the idea of making things like furniture, decorative items and so forth by cutting, shaping and joining pieces of wood together. However, this might not be up your street and yet you may still want the opportunity to work with this amazing natural material. So, pyrography might be just the right hobby for you.
In this guide, we’ll be introducing you to wood-burning and what it entails as well as showing you some excellent kits to get you started.
What Is Pyrography?
Pyrography, which is also referred to as wood burning, is the act of writing or drawing designs onto a piece of wood using a hot tool. This burning tool will etch your chosen design onto the surface of the wood, although you can also use it on other materials including leather, provided that the heat will not damage or destroy the surface you are working on.
Why Pyrography Makes A Good Hobby
If you are a creative person then pyrography might make for a very interesting hobby and something that you could become very passionate about. The reason that so many people turn to wood burning is that it is a completely different way of creating art.
Perhaps you usually use a more traditional medium like paint, pencil or inks to create works of art and feel that it’s time you upped your game. Pyrography will create new challenges and allow you to create work that is unlike anything else.
What’s even better is that many people who practice pyrography use other mediums alongside it to create truly unique pieces. There is no limit on what you can do and this freedom is what attracts a lot of hobbyists.
The History Of Wood Burning
It is very difficult to put an exact date on when wood-burning was invented because wood isn’t a material that survives well over time. It’s an organic material that will rot and go back into the earth, especially after thousands of years. So if there were cavemen practising pyrography then it would be highly unlikely that we’d find the remains of their art.
However, there are theories on when pyrography might have begun with a lot of people believing that it dates back long before historical records and that cavemen really may have tried their hand at this art. It is thought that in those days, charred sticks would be used to burn the wood, creating marks.
If we look back through history, it is possible to see evidence of wood-burning between 206 BC and 220 AD in the Han Dynasty. Here, the practice was called fire needle embroidery.
Pyrography Project Ideas
One of the greatest things about pyrography is that it is so versatile. The only limit is your imagination which means that you have the freedom to create anything you want. There are a multitude of designs available online which are great for beginners. However, when you get a little more confident, you might want to try your hand at creating your own designs.
While you can make just about anything with a wood-burning design, some of the following are among the most common items.
- House name/number signs
- Coasters and table mats
- Christmas tree decorations
- Wall plaques
- Wooden art pieces
- Wooden decorative plates
- Wood burned kitchen utensils
- Plant pots
- Serving platter/tray
- Child’s growth chart
- Letter tiles
What Supplies Do I Need For Wood Burning?
What’s great about starting with pyrography is that you can buy a kit that has everything you need to get started. However, you can gather your equipment separately so it’s important to know exactly what you’ll need. Some of the following are the most important.
- Wood burning pen with a selection of tips
- Carbon paper
- Paper towel (wet)
How To Use Your Wood Burning Tool
One of the most important pieces of equipment you will use when doing pyrography is the wood-burning pen. It’s essential that you get to grips with this tool and understand how to use it correctly as this will allow you to create the designs you want in the way that you want. The good news is that these pens aren’t all that difficult to wrap your head around.
A wood-burning pen is a metal tool that heats up at one end. On this end, there is the option to add and remove different tips which provide you with the ability to create different finishes. The pen normally takes around five minutes to heat up so it’s important to wait this time before getting started.
Before working on your project, we would suggest trying out your design on a piece of scrap wood or other material. This will allow you to experiment with different nibs and see what works best without compromising the finished product. Even when working on the final piece, it’s essential to make slow, controlled movements as failing to do this will affect how neat the results are.
You will also need to have some wet kitchen towel to hand as you’ll use this to regularly clean the tip of any wood residue. If you notice at any point that the pen begins to smoke, this is a sign that it is too hot and you’ll need to allow it to cool before continuing using it.
Best Wood For Wood Burning
The beauty of pyrography is that you can do it on a whole host of different materials. When it comes to wood, you’re free to use any type you prefer but as with anything, there are certain woods that will yield better results.
Most wood-burning experts would agree that things like pine, poplar, birch and basswood are all excellent candidates for pyrography. Generally speaking, a lighter wood will show up the design much more clearly and give amazing contrast between it and the surface it is burned on.
How To Transfer Your Design For Wood Burning
Transferring your chosen design onto the wood is not as much of a challenge as you might think. Now, if you’re very artistic, you might be able to freehand your design onto the wood but not everyone will find this quite so easy.
That’s where carbon paper will become your new best friend. You’ll first need to print out your design; there are literally thousands online so you’ll definitely be spoiled for choice. Next, place your carbon paper onto the wood with the design on top and trace over it to transfer.
Finishing Your Wood Burning Art
When you have finished your design, it is possible to simply leave it as it is but this doesn’t offer it very much protection and it’ll likely deteriorate over time. The best thing to do is to use wood oil or wax to create a protective layer over your design and keep it looking immaculate for years to come.
What’s more, these waxes and oils will give the wood a more smooth, sheer look which many find to be aesthetically pleasing. It’s easy to find these products which can be purchased online or at most DIY and hobby stores.
What To Look For In A Pyrography Set
When you’re choosing a pyrography set, it’s important to consider your options carefully. There are a lot of these kits on the market and while they’re all designed to do the same thing, not all of them are made equally. Before committing to anything, think about the following things.
One of the most important things to look at when choosing a pyrography pen is that it has a good selection of nibs, sometimes called tips. These come in different shapes and sizes and allow you to create different thicknesses of lines. Some will draw straight lines, while others are better for curved lines and you can even get nibs that allow you to shade to give your design greater depth.
Usually, a good quality wood burning kit will come with anywhere between four and seven tips and you’ll need to think about the types of design you want to do in order to choose what’s right for you.
The type of wood you are working with will depend on how hot the wood-burning pen needs to be. Some types of wood are unable to handle quite as much heat without becoming damaged. While you do want to burn the design onto the wood, you don’t want to cause damage so that the end result isn’t what you had hoped for.
On the flip side, there are some types of wood that require much higher temperatures in order for the design to show up so having adjustable temperature is a must. Unless of course, you only ever intend on using one type of wood but for versatility’s sake, we doubt that would be the case.
Furthermore, since pyrography can be practised on other materials such as paper and leather, these delicate materials require much lower temperatures.
Ease Of Use
Getting started with pyrography has its challenges at the best of times so the last thing you want is a kit that requires a rocket science degree to decipher. Most kits come with clear instructions and everything you need to get started so pay close attention to this when making a choice.
Price and Warranty
We all have a different budget when it comes to buying a wood burning kit. While some people don’t want to break the bank, others are prepared to invest a small fortune in their new hobby. There’s no right or wrong way to do it but we would always suggest opting for the best you can afford.
There’s no doubt that there are plenty of excellent budget pyrography kits just make sure you do your research first. Moreover, you’ll want to check that the kit comes with a good warranty so that you’ve got the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you won’t be out of pocket.
You’ll likely spend a lot of time practising pyrography and so you’re going to want a tool that feels comfortable to hold. Without an ergonomically designed grip, you may find that your hand ends up in an unnatural position which could cause cramping or discomfort, especially over prolonged use.
While there isn’t a huge amount of difference between the designs of different wood burning pens, you will notice that some are more efficiently designed for comfort. You may have to pay a little more for this feature but if you see the pen as an investment, it won’t be much of an issue.
When purchasing anything, it’s always important to buy the best quality you can afford as this means the equipment will perform better and last longer. This rule also applies when choosing a wood-burning kit so it’s a good idea to pay attention to the build quality of the pen and how durable and reliable the tips are.
It always helps to have a multifunctional tool so when choosing a pyrography set, you’ll want to think about how else you might use the tool. For example, some wood burning pens can double up as a soldering iron. If you like to tackle a variety of crafts, this can be especially useful.
Best Pyrography Kits
Even knowing everything to look for in a wood-burning kit, you may still want to narrow your search down. To help you out, we’ve found some of the best pyrography kits, whether you’re just getting started or have been practising for a while, you’ll find something you love.
This is one of the most versatile pyrography kits on the market at the moment and comes with a set of five tips allowing you to create a range of designs. Moreover, this pen doubles as a soldering iron and even comes with solder wire so you won’t need to buy anything extra.
We also love the fact that this wood burning kit is so easy to use. It features a simple on/off switch that, when pressed, quickly heats up the pen with minimal waiting times. Moreover, the temperature control dial allows you to move the heat anywhere between 220 and 480ºC further adding to the versatility of the tool.
It’s extremely comfortable to use as well so is great for people who will be getting a lot of use out of the pen. With a silicone grip handle and cooling holes, things will remain comfortable for project after project.
If you’ve been looking for a new hobby to keep you busy and one that will result in some pretty impressive items then pyrography might be right up your street. The art of wood-burning allows you to create a whole host of things such as wall plaques, decorative items, kitchen utensils and much more all with a handy pyrography kit.
We’ve looked at some of the best kits on the market and we’re confident that you’ll find something to meet your needs. However, we would always urge you to weigh up your options and take a look at the different features of each kit before making a purchase. This will help you to ensure that you get a kit that’ll serve you for many projects to come.