A Complete Guide to Wood Burning Projects for Beginners (Tutorial)
With a Bit of Practice & the Right Tools, You Can Become a Master!
Wood is one of my favorite craft mediums and design elements because it’s natural, classic and never goes out of style.
So, of course, it was only fitting for me to try wood burning or pyrography.
Pyrography is an art form similar to painting. If you Google or Bing the term, you will spot some amazing images.
But, those wood burned pieces were clearly done by folks with many years of pyrography experience.
But, even as a wood burning beginner, you can create some beautiful pieces.
I have and I know that you can too! With the right equipment and a bit of practice, you will be amazed at the wonderful wood burning projects you can make.
Choosing the Right Wood Burning Equipment for Your Wood Burning Projects
Before taking up wood burning, I researched the right wood burning equipment to buy. I scoured the internet and talked to folks with experience in the craft. While conducting my research, I found this online review of wood burning tools extremely helpful. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re in the market for pyrography equipment.
I chose a standard wood burning machine, manufactured by Colwood. It’s a bit nicer than many other wood burning equipment that you find at hobby stores. But, it was worth the cost to be able to control the nib temperature.
Colwood Wood Burning Kit is the Best
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used. And, it doesn’t cost you one little bit more to buy through these links! But, it does help me pay for my blog….thank you!
I purchased the Colwood kit below through Amazon. This kit comes with a pyrography power base and three interchangeable wire nibs – a writing tip, a skew tip and a shader tip.
The Colwood power base has an on/off switch and a dial that quickly adjusts the temperature of the nibs. It still amazes me how fast the nibs heat up and how quickly they cool down.
The kit includes a book that I found very helpful – “Pyrography Workbook – A Complete Guide to the Art of Woodburning” written by Sue Walters. It’s a clear, must-read for beginners.
The key to wood burning is knowing which nibs to use.
Here is some information on the three nibs that come with the Colwood kit I own:
- Skew Nib. Skew nibs have a straight edge; I use them for burning straight lines or burning straight letters.
- Writer Nib. These have a rounded end and are good for wood burning circles or curves and are excellent for burning letters.
- Shader Nib. As the name suggests, the shader nib is used to fill in and shade.
And, of course, you can buy more nibs directly from Colwood.
Ways to Transfer a Design onto Your Wood Burning Projects
There are many ways to transfer a design onto wood.
One way is to trace the pattern using graphite paper. Graphite paper, unlike carbon paper, can be erased or sanded. Place the graphite paper directly on your wood burning project and then place your design on top. Tape it well so it doesn’t move. And, then trace the design using a sharp pencil.
I used graphite paper to transfer a design to each of the three spoons below.
Another way to transfer a design is to use a stencil. I had some cute Christmas stencils on hand and used one of them on the chopping block below. I just used a 2B pencil to capture the design.
I also used a stencil on the candle holder that I bought at a recent craft market.
You can also transfer photocopied images by placing the design face down on your wood and then rubbing mineral spirits on the back.
Before Starting on Your Wood Burning Projects
- Select the right nib for the job.
- Have a practice wood next to you. It’s nice to have some practice wood handy when you’re using a new nib or are wanting to check how hot to make your tool.
- Remember that the hotter the tool and the harder you press on the wood, the darker the image will be.
- Select the right wood. The best wood for wood burning projects are soft woods that don’t have a lot of grain, such as fir or pine.
- Choose light-colored wooden pieces. Dark colored wood just doesn’t show the wood-burned image well!
- Blow on the hot nib before placing it on the wood to avoid seeing a dark blob at the start of the line.
- Take your time. Wood burning requires patience and concentration. You certainly don’t want to speed through these projects.
One last note, you can apply color to your wood burned piece.
Here’s a cute wooden egg from Etsy that shows wood burning and paint combined. Watercolor pencils, paints, and even fabric dyes can add a new dimension to your art piece while still allowing the wood burned design to show through.
If you haven’t tried wood burning as a hobby, I urge you to do so.
It’s very rewarding to see your finished piece and know that YOU made it!
And, while you’re thinking of wood burning, pop on over to my wood burning board on Pinterest, Something’s Burning! Follow me there and receive a daily dose of new wood burning projects to try!
And,check out how to make superheroes spoons and memo or blocks – they make adorable gifts for the superheroes in your life!
Happy Wood Burning all!