Recently I bought a basic wood burning kit from Michael’s with a gift card that my brother got me for Christmas (he knows me so well). I wasn’t sure how much I would like or use the kit so I decided to go with the cheapest option Michael’s carried. I ended up choosing the Walnut Hallow Value kit which was $25 CAD, and came with a wood burning pen, holder and 4 different tips (universal, cone, shading and flow). The temperature is a simple on/off switch which means that it isn’t adjustable on this pen, although on most of the other wood burning kits I checked out at Michael’s and Canadian Tire, the heat was adjustable.
I decided to buy the kit for a school project, but couldn’t wait to try it out so I also bought a thin piece of wood from Michael’s for 89 cents that I could test on. I planned to use the burner mostly for text so I decided to try out a quote. I traced out the quote in pencil while the burner heated up which was about 5 minutes. Then I went over it with the burner, and discovered it was surprisingly easy! The hardest part was adjusting to the burn rate of the wood. You have to move a lot slower than you would normally write, and at a very consistent pace so that the burning is even. In the photo below you can really see the effects that different pressure has on the wood. The darker areas are where I either pushed harder or went over slower. Every once in awhile I would have to wipe the tip of the pen off to get rid of the build-up which causes the pen to burn inconsistently. I would suggest having a folded up piece of WET paper towel handy. Remember that you’re working with a tool that is heated to 950 degrees Fahrenheit!
Remember that you can also use a wood burner for other things besides wood projects. I’ve pinned some cool ideas that use a wood burner on other materials such as cork and leather. I’m sure that there are more things as well, but be sure to research it before trying it to make sure it’s safe and you’re properly prepared.
My second project was a lot simpler than the first. I wanted to make personalized hangers for my friend’s bridal party. I went to Dollar Tree (everything is $1.25!) and bought 4 wooden hangers; one for the bride and one for each of her bridesmaids. I sketched out each name in script across the top of the hanger and wrote the date on the left arm. Then wrote BRIDE on the right arm of Erin’s hanger. In total, this project would have probably only taken me 20-25 minutes to do the 4 hangers without spending time on video shooting. Below is a sped up video of the process!
Pyrography Tips & Tricks
I haven’t done many projects with my wood burner yet, but trust me, I have many planned for the future! I would still categorize myself as a beginner, but here are some tips & tricks that I have learned so far.
- Try out speed and pressure on a test piece of wood
- Get familiar with each of the tips
- Follow a design
- Move slowly and at a constant speed
- Keep a piece of wet paper towel handy to wipe off the residue build-up on the pen
- BE CAREFUL – remember your pen is 950 degrees Fahrenheit!
Since I first wrote this post, I have done a larger sign for my family’s cabin. This sign is about 2′ tall and 1.5′ wide. It took a lot longer to do because I constantly had to wait for the wood burner to heat up again. I used a piece of pine shelving, (the kind you can buy from Home Depot) and when I had burn sections like the knots, the wood created a sticky residue that made it hard to burn. I had to keep cleaning off the tip. I did end up going over the larger words too to make them a bit darker. In the end this sign took a couple hours to finish burning. I still have to apply a clear varnish overtop before hanging it outside at our family cabin.
If you have a wood burning kit yourself, I would love to hear some of the projects you have made or any tips and tricks you have!