Best Wood for Fractal Burning: Right pick for Lichtenberg figures

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Written by Jared Watson

Jarred Watson is a pyrographer with 10+ years experience and has worked with brands like BOSCH & FORD. He is always looking to learn and share his passion of wood burning with others.

Fractal wood burning is a fascinating concept, I’ve experimented, learned, and refined my techniques over time. The foundation of this art? Choosing the right wood. In this guide, I’ll share my personal insights, revealing the best wood that has consistently delivered stunning results for me. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, my experiences aim to illuminate your path in the captivating realm of fractal burning. Join me on this journey!

Which is the Best wood for fractal burning?

Plywood, specifically Baltic Birch Plywood, is the best wood to use for fractal burning. Its uniform grain and minimal voids make it perfect for this art.

Features I’ve Observed that make it the best:

  • Uniform Grain: This ensures I get those consistent and mesmerizing fractal patterns every time essential for the overall output.
  • Minimal Voids: I’ve found this reduces any unpredictable burns or gaps, making the artwork even more captivating.

Fractal burning, or Lichtenberg burning as some call it, needs wood that can evenly conduct electricity to produce those intricate patterns we all love. While Baltic Birch Plywood has been my go-to, I’ve also had success with Poplar, Pine, and Cedar. Let’s get to know more about them.

Baltic Birch Plywood: Best wood for fractal wood burning

Baltic Birch Plywood

In my extensive experience and research, Baltic Birch Plywood[1] consistently stands out as the top choice for fractal burning. Here’s why:

  • Uniform Grain: The grain structure in Baltic Birch Plywood is consistent, which means electricity flows evenly, producing symmetrical and intricate patterns.
  • Minimal Voids: One of the standout features of Baltic Birch Plywood is the minimal voids. Voids can interrupt the flow of electricity from fractal kit, leading to gaps or breaks in the pattern. With fewer voids, the patterns are more continuous and visually appealing.
  • Optimal Density: Baltic Birch strikes a balance between being too dense and too soft, making it ideal for fractal burning.

Other Contenders: Poplar, Pine, and Cedar


While Baltic Birch Plywood is a top choice, other woods also offer promising results:

  • Poplar: Known for its relatively soft grain, Poplar allows for good conductivity. It’s also affordable and readily available, making it a popular choice for beginners.
  • Pine: Pine is another softwood that’s suitable for fractal burning. However, its resin content can sometimes interfere with the burning process, leading to uneven patterns.
  • Cedar: Cedar’s aromatic quality and soft grain structure make it another viable option. However, its oils can sometimes produce a darker burn, which might not be to everyone’s liking.

A deep dive into what wood works best for fractal burning

Fractal burning, also known as Lichtenberg burning, is a unique art form that involves passing a high voltage of electricity through wood, resulting in intricate, tree-like patterns known as Lichtenberg figures.

The choice of wood plays a pivotal role in determining the quality, clarity, and intricacy of these patterns. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of wood choices for fractal burning, evaluating their properties, benefits, and potential pitfalls.

Importance of Wood Choice

It’s crucial to understand why the choice of wood matters. The conductivity of wood, its moisture content, grain structure, and density can all influence the resulting patterns.

A wood that’s too dense might not allow the electricity to pass through easily, leading to incomplete or broken patterns. 

Conversely, a wood that’s too soft might burn too quickly, leading to less intricate designs.


Woods to Approach with Caution

Certain woods might not be ideal for fractal burning due to their inherent properties:

  • Hardwoods: Woods like oak, maple, and walnut are denser, which can make it challenging for the electricity to pass through. This can result in uneven or incomplete patterns[3].
  • Treated Woods: Any wood that has been chemically treated or painted should be avoided. The chemicals can interfere with the burning process and might release toxic fumes.

The Role of Moisture

The moisture content in wood plays a significant role in fractal burning. Wood that’s too dry might burn too quickly, while wood with high moisture content can be less predictable. It’s essential to strike a balance.

Using a moisture meter can help ensure your wood is at an optimal moisture level, typically around 10-20%.


Preparing the Wood

Before starting the fractal burning process, it’s essential to prepare the wood:

  • Sanding: A smooth surface ensures even burning. Start with a coarse grit and work your way to a finer grit for the best results.
  • Cleaning: Remove any dust or debris from the wood surface. This ensures that there are no interruptions during the burning process.

Safety First


Regardless of the wood choice, safety should always be a priority. Fractal burning can be dangerous[2], and it’s essential to take precautions:

  • Protective Gear: Always wear gloves, safety goggles, and a mask.
  • Work in a Ventilated Area: This ensures any fumes produced during the burning process are quickly dispersed.
  • Fire Safety: Always have a fire extinguisher on hand. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • A tip from my side: always ensure your wood is dry; moisture can really throw off the burning process.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best results in fractal burning, I’d personally recommend Baltic Birch Plywood because of its uniform grain and minimal voids. That said, Poplar, Pine, and Cedar have also served me well.

In my journey with fractal burning, Baltic Birch Plywood has emerged as my top pick. Its uniform grain and minimal voids consistently yield stunning patterns, setting it apart from other woods. While experimentation is key in art, for those seeking reliability and predictability in their fractal designs, I wholeheartedly recommend Baltic Birch. It’s a game-changer, ensuring captivating results every time. Dive in and witness the magic yourself!


  1. Eric. (2020, December 29). Baltic Birch. The Wood Database.
  2. Safety: Fractal Burning / Lichtenburg Burning. (n.d.-b).
  3. Ahic-Admin. (2021, June 2). Types of wood. American Hardwood Information Center.

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