Creating pyrography projects takes loads of energy, effort, time, and skills. And since the project is made of wood, it is crucial that necessary measures are taken to persevere the project. Therefore, it is important to use the Best finish for wood-burning projects and keep them safe, secured and sustained for the longest time.
When looking for the best finish for wood burning, I chose to look at 3 key parameters when selecting a particular type and that defines the result. Below parameters should help you decide which one suits your end product.
All products recommended in the list had to score above 6 on a scale of 0-10 on the below parameters, and only the ones that passed the score test were recommended.
Protection: The finish should protect the wood and the pyrography from damage, such as fading or cracking.
Compatibility: The finish should be compatible with the type of wood you are using and the pyrography.
Appearance: The finish should enhance the appearance of the pyrography and not detract from it.
In my experience of working with different finishes, I feel Lacquer by Rust Oleum store called Watco 63041 Lacquer is the best finish for wood burning projects for its durability and compatibility with most wood types.
Best finishes for wood burning
- Highly sustainable
- Strong and durable finish
- Available in multiple types
Watco 63041 Lacquer
- Short drying period
- Sanding not necessary
- Smooth application
- Accentuates the natural grains of the wood-burning piece
1. Lacquer - Best finish for pyrography projects
Lacquer is a beneficial finish material to work with for someone who is a professional pyrographer. If durability is your preference, then lacquer is a great option. It requires a lacquer thinner for the application at first. But then it can be built up. It does not take much time for this material to dry up.
Additionally, you can choose either a brush or a spray to apply it. The tools, brushes and sprays are readily available in the hardware store. So, you can choose according to your preferences.
However, the material emits a strong smell. Therefore, it would be ideal if you chose a well-ventilated work area. Also, the material ages over time. In that case, you can readily sand down the old lacquer and reapply a new coat of lacquer.
Which is the best lacquer for wood ?
In my opinion Watco 63041 Lacquer Clear Finish is a high-quality lacquer that can be used to enhance the appearance of wood burning pyrography. It dries quickly and provides a hard, durable finish that can protect the wood and the pyrography from damage. It is easy to apply and dries clear, providing a glossy finish that highlights the pyrography.
2. Spray Polyurethane - Best for colored pyrography projects
If your wood-burning project is coloured, then Spray Polyurethane is the easiest and ideal material to seal the project with. The material works equally efficiently and effectively despite the colouring medium used, such as colour pencils, watercolour or oil paints. Since it is a spray, it doesn’t disturb the colours of the project, which would not have been the case if brushes had to be used to apply the material.
You can use this material to give your project a glossy, semi-glossy or even matte finish. However, if you are more comfortable with brushes, you can avail of the liquid form of polyurethane to apply smoothly and gently to your project. Additionally, polyurethane is one of the most commonly applied finish materials for wood-burning projects. It is available in a large range of formulas.
If you have a preference between water-based or oil-based options, you can readily opt for the one you prefer, as both options are available in this material. However, you must remember that polyurethane adds a yellowish shade to your project after its application. There is a specific method for applying this material.
Ensure a thin coat with a clean and soft brush. Allow the coat to dry for three to four hours. Sand it and then apply another coat. The optimal number of coats necessary is three.
Which is the best polyurethane spray ?
I felt Minwax 33050000 Fast Drying Polyurethane Aerosol is a best polyurethane finish specially because its spray can is easy to use and dries quickly to a hard, durable finish that protects the wood and the pyrography from damage. It has a clear, glossy finish that enhances the appearance of the pyrography and also it has a fast drying time. A recommended product for those looking for a polyurethane finish.
3. Paste Wax - Best budget option
Paste floor wax is the next finish material you can use for your wood-burning pieces. It is a highly affordable material and offers a natural finish to your projects. The artist must know the technique for using this material. It requires a clean cloth for application. And by clean, I mean that it must be lint-free.
You have to start by rubbing the paste wax with the cloth on the entire project. Allow the coat to dry for a generous time. As it starts to dry, you will see a cloud-like appearance. Now, use another clean cloth to rib off the first coat of the wax from the surface. And this is how you buff it into a soft shine.
You can apply more coats. However, too many coats can give a milky appearance to your project. To remove that, use an old toothbrush and rub the milky-appearing areas profusely until it comes off.
This finishing material helps you exercise considerable control over the type of finish you would want your wood-burning surface to have. If you prefer or want your piece to have a natural wood-like appearance, paste wax is the best suitable finish material. You can effortlessly apply thin coats and keep your wood burning piece secure without kerning its natural look.
Which is the best paste wax for wood ?
If I was looking to add a classic, traditional look to their wood burning pyrography, then I would go with Seasoning Multipurpose Traditional Furniture and Cabinets Paste Finishing Wax. It is easy to apply and dries quickly to a hard, durable finish that protects the wood and the pyrography. It provides a warm, subtle sheen and a traditional look to the wood. It is a great product for those looking for a traditional finish for their pyrography project.
4. Oil - best for natural grain finish look
Oil is another very commonly used finish material used by pyrographers. It offers your wood-burning surface a natural grain finish look. You can find different types of oils as a finish material. Among them, Danish oil and Tung oil are the best sealer for burnt wood projects. Generally, a single coat of oil is sufficient for securing the entire piece. The other types of oils as finish material include mineral oil, walnut and lemon.
It offers a durable layer or coating that amplifies and enhances the natural wood grains. The application requires a brush. After you apply a coat of oil with the brush, you have to let it set on wood. After it, wipe off the excess oil with a cloth. If you want to apply another coat on the piece, you will have to allow the first coat to set on the project, which can ideally take overnight. The exact time it is necessary to let the oil coat set on the piece before being used.
Oil, as a finish material for wood , helps keep the wood moisturised. Therefore, wooden materials exposed to food items, such as cutting boards, are best to have an oil finish. The mineral oil is the best option for cutting boards as it is non-toxic and can also sustain high temperatures without any damage.
Which is the best wood finish oil ?
I used Odie’s Oil Universal for wood burning pyrography once for items which had to be food grade safe. I felt it was easy to use, dried quickly, protected wood & pyrography, enhanced natural color and added warm sheen. Furthermore, it is food safe and non-toxic, perfect for kitchenware and other items.
5. UV Inhibitors - Best for outdoor projects
The pyrography designs are affected by sunlight. The sun rays can lead to the fading of pyrography. If you are doing a project with continuous and robust sunlight exposure, the best sealer for a burnt wood project is the UV Inhibitors.
Even if your wooden piece is supposed to have exposure to artificial light, the UV inhibitors will be the best suitable finish wood material. Thus, applying heavy-duty or marine varnish coats with UV filters is the best option if your wooden piece is to be set as an outdoor display.
The technique for applying the UV varnish is coat by coat. That is, first, you apply one coat of varnish. Let it set for some time. Then reapply. Ensure that the number of coats is optimal for the wooden piece. Also, you can use the flooding technique to apply the material throughout the project. Or just on certain necessary spots. The best part is that the coat will protect the surface from any natural light.
Which is the best UV coating for wood ?
If you are looking for a wood finish on a project that will mostly stay outdoors then Rust-Oleum 250141H Ultimate Spar Urethane can be a great choice. Since the finish is UV resistant, which is important for outdoor use, it is easy to apply. It dries quickly to a hard, durable finish that protects the wood and pyrography from damage.
Here is another material that can offer your wood piece a perfectly natural finish. The reason behind it is that shellac comes from the secretions of the female Lac bugs. Thus, it is also a safe material to use as it does not consist of any harmful chemicals.
The technique of applying shellac is quite easy. Apply the first coat and then allow it to set for 45 minutes. After it is set, you can apply a further necessary number of coats. You can use this finishing material in any wood piece except the ones that are to be exposed to heat.
When exposed to heat, shellac causes the wood to discolour. Therefore, shellac is not quite a suitable finish material for cutting boards and coasters.
Which is the best shellac for wood ?
I feel Zinsser SHELLAC CLR3 to be one of the safest types of wood finish products because it is food safe. It also enhances the natural color of the wood and provides a warm, subtle sheen. Additionally, it is a food safe and non-toxic finish, making it perfect for any kitchenware or other items that may come in contact with food.
Varnish is one of the most well-known materials among pyrographers. It is a transparent and clear material that consists of resin, drying oil, solvent or thinner. You can readily get different varnish wood finishes based on alkyd, lacquer, polyurethane, shellac, acrylic and the like. It offers a glossy and high-glossy appearance on the finished product.
This finishing material is best sustainable for floors, furniture and cabinets. It is a colourless finish material and can offer colour if the pigment is added to it. However, some varnishes can add an orangish or yellowish shade to the wood piece. The best method of application is a spray. But, if a brush is used, skills are required for the same.
Which is the best varnish for wood ?
I feel SamaN SAM-306 8.8-Ounce Interior Brazilian Varnish is easy to apply, dries quickly and provides a hard, durable finish that aids the longevity of the finish. It is compatible with most wood and pyrography projects. It also enhances the appearance of the pyrography and does not detracts from it.
If you are a wood burning enthusiast who has just started with wood burning and is still not aware of the do’s and don’ts, applying a finish to seal the artwork can seem tricky. There are certain components that you need to consider when applying a finish.
1. Do not use the Finish Product Directly from its container.
One of the fundamental reasons for using a finish or a sealant is to prevent the wood art from coming in contact with any kind of external particles. As it can contaminate the project and ruin its overall look when you are using a product for sealing the artwork, you need to keep in mind that you are supposed to use the product directly from the container. If you directly dip the brush into the product’s container, there are chances of contamination.
If you are directly dipping a brush in the can of sealant that has been previously used, there is a high chance of the product getting contaminated. Wood types like pakadu, which is red in colour, can leach colour, which gets absorbed by the bristles of the brush. The bristles can also pick colour if you have used paint or stains in your projects.
If you directly put that brush in the finish or sealant’s container, the entire product can get tinted and discoloured, making the finish ineffective. To prevent the entire supply of sealant from getting tinted, you should always pour the required amount into a mason jar or bowl and then use it.
2. Make sure the work environment is not cold.
When applying the finish for sealing the artwork, you would need to work in an area which is not cold. Finish products like varnish, lacquer, Shellac, etc., must be applied in a warm area, especially if you have not prepared the wood by wetting and sanding it.
The products need a warm environment so different sealing products will require different levels of warmth. Therefore before you start the product application, read the instructions which you can find on the products container. On average, an area with a temperature of twenty-one degree Celsius is ideal for sealant application. If the area does not have this minimal temperature of twenty-one degree Celsius, the sealant will not be set right. Even if it sets them, it will take more time than usual.
It is also important to make sure that the place where you are or will store the sealing product is not cold. If you store the sealant in a cold area, the product inside it will also get cold. If you bring a cold can of sealing product into a warm room, there are chances of bubble formation in the product. These bubbles are not visible, but if applied on the wood surface can lead to the expansion of the wood. Even if you store it in a cold place, warm up the sealant container area before using it. Also, warp up the wood to avoid bulges and expand the wood surface.
3. Do not use multiple finished products.
Different sealants have different chemical properties, which offers a different finish to the wood-burning project. The kind of product you want to use for sealing the wood artwork depends on the artwork itself.
The kind of sealant you should use for wall art or some other decorative or fashionable item will differ from the finished product you should use on a wooden spoon or food-safe cutting board.
General finish products such as spar urethra, polyacrylic, polyurethane, resin, danish oil etc., are good for any general wood-burning art items like jewellery, wall art, furniture or any other decorative items. These products can be applied both by using a brush or spray can, providing protection from sunlight, water and dust particles.
Often, wood-burning artists make the mistake of mixing different kinds of sealing products with each other. As we know, different sealing products have different chemical compositions; if two different kinds of sealants with different chemistry might not be compatible, the finished products can get ruined and prevented from getting cured properly. The top reason for using different kinds of sealants on one wood art is not having the required amount of sealing product with which the artist has initially started.
Therefore when applying the sealant, make sure that you have enough product which you will be able to use throughout the artwork.
4. The workstation should be well-ventilated.
The sealing products are made by using strong chemicals to provide all these facilities. Due to the presence of many strong chemicals, when you start using the sealing product, you can get a strong and pungent smell from the product. This can become a hindrance in your work.
Therefore, it is important to work in an open space. If you do not have access to an open space, work in a room that is well-ventilated. You can improve the ventilation of the room by installing an exhaust fan on the room’s window. For additional safety protection, you can also invest in a respiratory mask with filters to prevent dissolved solvent particles from entering your respiratory system.
Spray On vs Brush on Products- What's Best ?
The application of the finish or sealant can be a bit tricky. It can be applied either by spraying it on the final artwork, or you can use a brush to apply the sealant. Both methods are different from each other with their own advantages and disadvantages. To understand which is the more suitable method for your wood-burning project, both methods are explained below.
Spray On Method
The first method by which you can apply your finish or sealant on the wood artwork is by spraying it on the wood project. To apply the finished product by this method, you can buy aerosol cans of various finish products like shellac, lacquer, polyurethane, etc., which are easily available in the market. If you have added colours and stains to your wood-burning artwork, applying the finish with the help of an aerosol can of your choice of sealant is better. The spray-on method is more convenient, allowing you to cover a small area quickly without any brush marks and helps you to have better control over the application process.
If you want to apply the sealant with the spraying method, it is important to have the proper set-up. One of the primary things that you need to take care of is your own protection. Spraying the sealant is a fast process which gives a smooth finish. Still, it also involves the generation of a mist of solvent and the finished product. When sprayed, it lingers in the air and settles on everything in its vicinity.
If inhaled by mistake, this mist of the solvent and the finish can be dangerous for your health and cause respiratory problems. Therefore, working with an aerosol can will require you to have a good ventilation strategy. Work in a well-ventilated and open area. Cover everything near the workstation if you do not have access to such an area and are compelled to work in an indoor setting.
Also, invest in a respiratory mask which has organic filters, especially if you are working with lacquer to prevent the sealant particles from entering your respiratory system. You can install an exhaust fan in the room for additional safety precautions. Every method has its own pros and cons. Even though the spray-on method is convenient, it is not economical. One can of aerosol sealant costs more than a jar of brush.
When you are a beginner who has little or no experience with sealants using the spraying method can be a bit difficult. Spitters are formed when you first spray the product, which can blemish your wood-burning artwork. Keeping a steady pace is the key to getting a spatter-free, even coverage with less build-up. If you start or stop spraying the surface, it becomes difficult to get an even coating of the product. It would be best if you move fast to prevent the finished product, like polyurethane, from building up in one spot.
One easy and foolproof way to counter this problem is to begin spraying before reaching the edge of the art piece and then me across the wood surface at an even pace. Once you have gone past the extreme edge of the wood-burning art piece, you can stop the spraying. As a beginner, it can be a natural instinct to swing the sealant spray can result in an arc pattern. If you swing, the aerosol can result in an arc; it will lead to an uneven coverage with product build-up in the centre and less on the edge of the wood piece.
To avoid further build, uphold the can at a ninety-degree angle with the spray tip parallel to the surface of the wood piece. The main goal of applying a sealant is to wet the surface with enough product and to get an equal coating. To further prevent the problem of build-up, make sure you are doing a fifty per cent overlap of the product throughout the wood-burning art piece. By doing an overlap of fifty per cent, you will be making sure that each portion of the artwork has received an equal amount of product.
The overlap at the edges will lead to a narrow band of thicker sealant at the junction of two strips. Therefore, products which have spray on finish will give it a smooth and even texture without brush marks. Use a spray can to apply your sealant only if you have prior experience or have the proper knowledge about how it is supposed to be used and can afford it.
Brush On Method
The second method by which you can apply the sealing product on the art piece is by using a brush. It may not be as convenient as the spray-on method and takes more time.
Still, this method is more beginner friendly and economical than the spray-on method, as this method allows you to control the application and the quantity of product used. If you opt for the brush-on method, it is important to get the right type of brush. Paint brushes that are large and square in shape or sponge brushes are the preferred type.
The brush-on method is relatively straightforward and easy. Still, there are certain aspects about which you should take care. Some wood-burning artists suggest preparing the wood for applying sealant after you are done with your wood burning. Sanding and wetting the wood-burning project after you are done with your wood-burning design can damage it. Therefore, it is better if you prepare the wood surface before you start burning the design on the wood surface.
In addition to it, there are some other factors that you need to take care of when applying the sealant with the help of a brush. If you are using an old brush with which you have previously worked, there are chances that the brush has absorbed the wood stain or colours of the previous artwork. Now, if you dip the brush in the container of the product, it can discolour or stain the entire quantity of sealant.
Therefore, do not dip the brush directly into the product’s container, as it can contaminate the entire quantity of sealant. To prevent contamination, pour the required amount of the sealing product into a separate bowl or jar and then use the product. To get an even and smooth finish look, make sure that you are applying multiple thin layers of the sealing product covering all the areas of the wood-burning project instead of one thick layer.
Use the brush in a long stroke, as it will help to achieve a clean and smooth look. Applying only one layer of the sealing product will not be enough to protect the wood-burning project in the long run. Therefore apply two to three layers of your choice of selling product to provide the required protection. Products that have a brush-on finish can have brush marks and will take more time to complete the application.
How to Prepare the Wood for applying Finish ?
Preparing the wood for a finish is an important step to ensure that the finish adheres properly and the final result looks smooth and professional. Here are some steps to prepare the wood for a finish:
Sand the wood: Use a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots or uneven areas on the wood. Sand with the grain of the wood to avoid creating scratches.
Clean the wood: Use a clean, dry cloth to remove any sawdust or debris from the wood.
Remove any previous finish: If the wood has a previous finish on it, use a chemical stripper or sand it off before applying a new finish.
Fill any holes or cracks: Use wood filler to fill any holes or cracks in the wood. Once the filler is dry, sand it smooth.
Apply a sealer: If the wood is porous or if you plan to apply a stain, it’s recommended to apply a sealer first. This will help the stain to be more consistent and will also help protect the wood from any discoloration.
Test the finish: Before applying the finish to the entire piece, it’s recommended to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the wood to see how it will look and make any necessary adjustments.
Allow the wood to dry completely: Before applying the finish, make sure the wood is completely dry. If the wood is not dry, the finish may not adhere properly or may dry unevenly.
Different wooden pieces have different purposes and needs. However I prefer something that’s an allrounder, I recommend using Watco 63041 Lacquer.
These were the seven best and the most prevalent finish materials that one can use for their pyrography project. The choice depends on where the project will be placed, how often it will be used, and what one will use.