Best Wood for Pyrography? It’s not Maple for sure

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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.

Artists and hobbyists create landscapes and portraits by burning wood surfaces, but it can also be done on canvas, leather, paper, etc. For beginners it’s very confusing to choose the best wood for wood burning since there are quite a lot of factors to consider. I am going to talk about the top 11 woods for wood burning that are popularly preferred in the market along with a curated verdict. 

Which is the Best Wood for Pyrography ?

Brasswood is softwood which makes it the best wood for pyrography. Light color and its tender nature makes it fit for making musical instruments, handicrafts carving, veneer, wooden jewelry boxes, window shutters, etc. Basically, you can use this wood to make lightweight wooden goods. 

Best Woods for Wood Burning


2nd best choice for pyrography

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  • Hardwood
  • Neat canvas
  • Grains aren't visible


Best wood for pyrography

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  • Softwood
  • Tender in nature
  • Light Color


3rd best choice for pyrography

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  • Easily available anywhere
  • Light
  • Minimal Grain

1. Brasswood


Brasswood is softwood which makes it the best wood for pyrography. Light color and its tender nature makes it fit for making musical instruments, handicrafts carving, veneer, wooden jewelry boxes, window shutters, etc. Basically, you can use this wood to make lightweight wooden goods. 

The fine grain of Brasswood[1] is the reason why this type of wood can be easily burnt. Moreover, you can add finer details and intricacies to your pyrographic work by producing both lighter and darkers burns on the wood surface. Overall, Brasswood is a popular wood choice for wood burning art.

2. Willow

Our second favorite wood on the list is Willow. Willow is creamy, blonde in color and comes with a silky smooth soft texture which makes it easy to burn. As a matter of fact, Willow is a hard wood. However, if you want to use this wood for pyrography, then it is soft. Its grain is hardly visible and gives you a neat canvas for wood burning crafts. 

The only drawback is finding markets where they sell this wood in lots.

3. Maple

Maple is hardwood but has light and minimal grain and is one of the most coveted choices for wood burning crafts. It needs more burning heat to get the desired pyrographic effect. Maple wood is readily available in most wood shops. However, maple is quite expensive. Maple wood burning gives consistent designs on its surface with smooth burning. 

4. Poplar

Polar is an evenly colored softwood with smooth and consistent grain, which is why it is easy to create pyrographic details on it. Poplar is easy to burn and is also easy to find in the most craft stores. Poplar is comparatively better than pine in terms of pyrography, however, it is also costlier than pine.

5. Aspen


Aspen is a light and softwood and perfect wood for wood burning. However, this wood comes with certain differences in terms of non-uniform grain. Still, these variations can be leveraged to the best of their advantages while burning designs on the wood surface. So, if you are looking for a wood with more uniform grain, then don’t buy this wood.

6. Birch


Birch is a light color, hard wood with smooth wood grain. So, it is definitely a suitable wood for pyrography. Apart from that, this is a common wood choice used to make veneer and plywood materials. You can even make furniture, kitchen cabinets, etc. However, if you are dedicatedly using Birch wood for plywood purposes, then it must be treated carefully. Birchwood is widely grown and  gathered in the northern hemispheric regions. 

7. Pine

Pine is a great wood for anyone at their beginner level training. But not so good enough for professional pyrographic works. Why? Well, pine features an inconsistent pattern of grain and this wood is kind of sappy cum smokey. Also, the grain inconsistencies make it tough to maintain uniformity in wood burning designs. This wood is cheaply available in the craft stores, cut into different shapes and sizes.

8. Cherry


Cherry is a hardwood with good longevity and is available in most wood stores. This wood comes with a natural reddish tint which gives it a dark look. However, this shade is not evenly spread on the wood which makes it a secondary wood choice for wood burning. That means you cannot add finer wood burning details on this wood. Conversely , the smooth grain of this wood allows consistency in design and hence, it is a top preference of most pyrographic artists.  

9. Walnut


It is yet another hardwood and hence, it also comes under a secondary preference for wood burning. Typically, this wood is not ideal for pyrographic works that require lots of intricacies and  details. Also, unlike Pine wood, Walnut cannot be used for practice purposes as it is too costly to do so. This type of wood is fit for making tough wooden projects like shelves, cutting boards, or so, where the concept of wood burning is just a nominal factor. 

10. Ash


Ash is a blonde wood that features light and rough grain which is why the wood is difficult to work on for your pyrography projects. However, it is still better than Pine wood as Ash is neither smokey nor sappy. The only setback is since Ash is hard to burn through, you might have to do six to seven levels of burning to achieve a good quality burn that I otherwise see in Brasswood or other softwood. 

11. Oak


Oak is a hardwood with straight grain and uneven texture which makes it a challenging choice for wood burning projects; typically the fine artworks that include lots of intricacies. Also, being acidic[2], Oak can erode the pen tip used in pyrography. Otherwise, it is absolutely a gorgeous choice when it comes to making striking home furnishing objects.

Types of wood to avoid

Here are the woods and factors to keep in mind for your next pyrography project:

  • The wood should not be less than 9.5 mm (or 0.38 inches) in width
  • Deep burning of plywood contains glue which may start to convert into toxic fumes while in contact with fire
  • Never use an already finished wood
  • Avoid pyrography on woods that are integrated with any plastic or synthetic materials
  • The wood should be free from any hazardous substance
  • Avoid any wood that is sappy/resinous, or have inconsistent grain pattern or is naturally in color 

All these factors influence irregular and poor pyrographic output.

How to prepare your wood for wood burning ?

After you get your preferred pyrography wood handy, you need to prepare it for the wood burning work. The wood should be smooth and soft with a clean surface. For that you need to sand the wood but again there is a technique to do it, which will turn the wood to its best condition to get started with the project.

  • Firstly, use a 220 grit sandpaper for sanding the wood. However, in certain cases, you might require a rougher sandpaper (i.e. grit size will be lesser)
  • Secondly, use a towel or sponge to lightly wet the wood such that there is no excess of water on the surface
  • Thirdly, let the wood air dry and this time use a 220 grit sandpaper on that wood to get a finer finish. Finally, it is ready for your project

Extra Tip

This is a tip to apply in case you don’t have sandpaper handy. Just pass the razor blade across the wood surface. It will work like sanding the wood. 


Is soft or hard wood better for pyrography?

There are many wood types available in the market from which you can choose the wood for pyrography. The wood types can be classified into softwoods and hardwoods. You can choose any type according to your personal preference. Generally, it is recommended to use a wood that will have the least resistance. 

Therefore, softwoods are preferred more as they have a light grain and are sparsely spaced, allowing for easy cut and manipulation. Poplar and basswood are soft wood types. If you want, you can also use birch or yellow pine wood, but these are hardwoods with a dense wood grain. 

Can you burn pallet wood?

There are many types of wood types available in the market with which you can experiment as you hone your skill in the art. Pallet wood is also a decent choice cheaper and readily available compared to other types. It is often questioned whether one can burn pallet wood. 

Pallet wood is obtained from loading pallets. Therefore, the wood type cannot be determined. However you can burn pallet wood but make sure to take all necessary precautions as they are often treated with chemicals that, when burned, can form toxic smoke. 

What is the longest-lasting wood to burn?

There are many types of wood available in the market; when choosing wood for pyrography, one should choose a wood type that is durable. It is generally recommended to use softwood types as they are less dense and have a very light grain which makes them easy to cut and manipulate. Some durable soft wood types are willow wood, aspen wood, basswood and yellow pine wood.

Do you have to seal the wood after burning?

Preparing the wooden surface by sanding and damp cloth is an important step to follow as it helps in better burning. Just like that, it is important to seal the work by using a wood sealer to protect the project. Sealing the wood-burning project will make the project durable. The wood sealer can change the color of the final product, often a green tint. Though, make sure that the wood sealer has dried thoroughly

Should you stain the wood before burning it?

Staining the wood involves using inks which have chemicals on the surface of the wood. If you want to stain the wood, it is recommended to do so after you are done with the burning process because the chemicals present in the stain ink, if come in contact with high heat, can produce toxic fumes. Therefore, stain the wood after burning is complete to avoid any kind of health hazard.


Considering the wood burning features of all the woods in the above list, I have curated 3 best woods for pyrography:

  • Basswood: ideal for fine line work due to its smooth and even grain
  • Aspen: good for simple designs and practice due to its light weight and low cost
  • Red cedar:  great for adding a strong, distinct aroma to your project.


I discussed the best types of wood to use for pyrography, including basswood, aspen, and red cedar, and highlighted their unique characteristics such as texture, grain, and burnability. I also shared some tips on how to choose the right wood for your project verdict of the top 3 wood and why to prefer them. Do let us know in the comment if you would like to add any other wood to our list. 


  1. Basswood – Characteristics and uses of tilia wood. (n.d.).

  2. Table 2 . Acidity of different wood species. (n.d.). ResearchGate.

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