When it comes to wood art, woodburning is one of the easiest to get in to. It is an inexpensive hobby that doesn’t require large pieces of machinery like woodturning does, and woodcarving can be a little harder to get the hang of. For that reason, many novice woodworkers turn to wood burning.

Long Island Woodworking Supply is thrilled to offer a wide range of essential woodburning tools from the best brands for experts and novices alike. If you have been woodburning for some time, the below information is likely old hat. However, if you are new to this craft, keep reading to learn some helpful information!

What Is Woodburning?

Woodburning, also called pyrography — Greek for “writing with fire” — is an artform that consists of using a heated metal instrument to draw or write on wood. This method of creating art is also used on dried gourds and leather — though keep in mind that typical leather is tanned using harsh chemicals, which can create dangerous air conditions when burned.

Before electricity, metal pen-like instruments would be heated in a fire or under the sun with the use of a magnifying glass, and some areas of the world still practice the art this way. Most modern pyrographers, though, use electrical woodburning tools.

Which Wood Would A Woodburner Burn?

Kids on the playground spend time asking, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” We’d like to propose our own, more relevant tongue twister: “What kind of wood would a woodburner burn if a woodburner could burn wood?”

There are three main qualities in wood that affect pyrography: color, hardness, and grain. While you can technically burn on any wood, there are a few standard characteristics that will give you a beautiful piece. Light colored woods allow for better contrast and artwork that pops. Softer woods burn easier and at lower temperatures than harder woods, however, it is easier to make mistakes on soft wood. As far as grain goes, the less grain a wood has, the better and smoother the final product will be.

Here are a few popular woodburning woods:
Basswood: This is one of the most popular pyrography woods because it has practically zero grain, is inexpensive, and can be found in most craft and wood stores. It has a beautiful light color with even tones throughout, and is great for shading.
Birch: Birch is similar to basswood, but a little grainier. However, the grains add a nice amount of dimension, and unlike grain in pine, birch grain is softer and easier to work with.
Pine: Pine is a popular wood to burn on because it is relatively inexpensive and widely available. However, some pyrographers have trouble with the grain on pine.  
A Note On Using Repurposed, Recycled, or Reclaimed Wood: Maybe you found an old barn door at a yard sale or want to decorate some pallets for your farmhouse. Keep in mind that these woods, as well as many other non-raw woods, have been treated with chemicals or may have even been used to store chemicals in their past life. These chemicals can be released into the air when burning, so make sure to use extra precaution when working with these types of wood — though we recommend staying away from these altogether.

How To Prepare For A Pyrography Session

Most photographers prefer to do a little bit of prep work before taking the pen to the wood in order to create the most beautiful finished piece of art. This typically includes sanding first with a low grit sandpaper and following up with a fine grit paper. If you find that your workpiece is building up too much residue as you work, you can go over it again with sandpaper.

Helpful Tips:
  • Make sure to burn in a well-ventilated area. Woodburning, regardless of what type of wood you use, produces smoke and breathing that in can cause health problems down the road. Consider setting up a small fan to disperse the smoke as you burn.
  • Use a facemask when burning. This again helps to prevent you from breathing in smoke during a long pyrography session.
  • Always be aware of your woodburning pen. The tip reaches hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit, and tossing it on your desk while still hot can start a fire.
  • Keep a wet rag or wet paper towel nearby to wipe off excess residue that gets built up on your pen tip.

Applying Your Design To Your Wood

Some woodworkers like to freehand their design onto their workpiece with a pencil or simply create their design as they go. However, this can make getting that perfect design difficult. We recommend that beginners print out a design that they like or create their own artwork in a computer program, and trace it onto their wood using carbon or graphite transfer paper, which can be picked up at any craft store. Tape your transfer paper directly to the wood and then place your design over the transfer paper. Using firm pressure, trace your design with a pen or pencil. The graphite in the transfer paper will appear on your wood where you traced your design, and you can burn right over this.

Have The Right Woodburning Tools

At Long Island Woodworking Supply, we sell a huge variety of high-quality Colwood woodburning kits that have everything you need to get started. Remember, as with everything in life, you get what you pay for. Whether you are starting a new hobby or picking up an old one, we recommend starting with quality supplies that are safer and work better than cheap alternatives.

For beginners, we recommend our Colwood Woodburner Cub Standard Kits. These kits come with five tips that will give you a good variety to start with. You can always expand your kit later as you get more into your hobby, and we offer a huge range of woodburning tips for you to choose from. Most beginners prefer to have fixed tips, as it allows you to be more precise and have more control over your pen, but replaceable tips work well, too.

If you have any questions about woodburning, feel free to get in touch with our knowledgeable staff by phone email today! We’d love to help you get started on a new hobby!

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