Wood burning is a gorgeous art of etching designs into wood with a hot tool. It’s perfect making handmade gifts, wall décor, and much more!
I have always had an interest in wood burning. I love the art style, the unique patterns that can be created, and just about everything that comes along with it! But man, is it hard!! This is an artform that is going to take some time to master and quite a bit of effort. So this is just the beginning of my journey into this world and I am looking forward to seeing where this leads!
This post is mostly going to be the beginner advice I learned while researching how to start this new technique (see Lessons). Check out the Craft section of MCG for more unlimited ideas.
The supplies required for this project is fairly simple:
- A piece of wood
- Sanding/Staining tools id desired
- A soldering iron
- Transfer Paper (a.k.a. graphite paper or carbon copy paper)
When I first looked into wood burning, I thought it was going to be easy because the process looked really simple. I decided to treat the wood before burning it by do a light sand and staining the color, but this isn’t really necessary.
The first real step is figuring out a design of what you want the project to look like at the end. I did this by drawing it out on a piece of paper to verify what I wanted. This is then transferred to the wooden piece by tracing the drawing over transfer paper.
Now comes the bulk of the work, burning the wood! This part takes a lot of patience and small hand movements. There is a lot of lessons to be learned here from which tips to use for what design to temperature control for different colors.
Depending on what you’re using the project for, condition the wood might be something to consider. Especially if the project is going to be in use.
Have a Piece of Scrap Wood on Hand
I find it handy to have a piece of scrap wood lying around to test the temperature of the heat gun at the beginning of the project. This is great if you’re impatient like me and don’t like waiting for something with no visible signs. It’s a great indicator for where the soldering iron is on it’s warming up process.
The tips will be hot
The tips on your soldering iron, while potentially interchangeable, are very very hot. It can take a while for the tips to cool down, so it’s good to have a bowl of cold water close by to drop the tips in. Also, since you don’t want to touch the tips directly, it’s good to have a pair of pliers to remove the tips before dropping them into the bowl of cold water.
Starting out, the soldering iron looks very shiny and new. But then after one session, the tips change color! What happened? This is the natural oxide layer on the surface thickening from the heat. It has a name called heat tint and is totally natural so don’t panic!
- Pick a design.
- Prep wood as desired.
- Trace design onto wood using transfer paper.
- Use the soldering iron to burn the image.