How to burn wood art ? Learn Pyrography in 11 Easy Steps

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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.

Wood burning is among the most versatile and unique craft ideas. Once you can hone your wood burning, you can embellish wood-burned designs on any surface. The options are endless like making a personalized sign, wall art or a functional art. However, even before you begin, you need to understand the basics of how to burn wood. Knowing so will set your path to more complex design patterns like fractal wood burning art. 

Things you need to burn wood art

To perform a burn wood art, below are the essentials you will need:

  • A design: A design is like a stencil or a blueprint that you will require to place on the wooden surface to burn and perform wood burning.


  • Pieces of wood: You need to have a basic flat log of wood that’s wide enough for you to perform or simply place your stencil. 


  • Tape: A basic sized tape


  • Graphite paper: This is required when you have to transfer your art from paper to wood


  • A pen or embossing tool: A very key part of a wood burning kit is the pen which will help you draw the outline on wood


  • Safety gear: Since wood art involves electricity and some sharp tools, you should have gloves and safety glasses all the time


  • A wood burning tool: The burn that’s caused on wood comes from the transformer or the tool that produces heat


  • An eraser (preferably a sand eraser): We all make mistakes when practicing art, a sand paper allows you to even out the mistakes.

How to burn wood art?

Pyrography uses the controlled application of a heated tool such as poker to create burn markings on the wood or other materials to decorate them or imprint designs. You need to follow certain steps in order to perform wood art and all of it depends on the purpose of your wood art. 

Currently, the two best techniques which are also gaining popularity in burning wood art are:

  • Using electricity
  • Using a torch burner

Both these techniques use stencils and chemicals to embellish the designs onto the wooden object. 

Burning wood art in 11 Easy Steps

You’ll need to get a few supplies to get started with the wood-burning art technique. It goes without saying that the most important thing you need to do is get a set of tools for your pyrography tasks after getting clarity of the end result. 

If you are a beginner, you can get a simple starter kit, many of which are already available on the market. Although the wood-burning instrument resembles a soldering iron, its tip heats up much more quickly. The temperature of the tip may be controlled via a controller.

You will have everything you need to get started if you purchase a complete kit. If you merely purchase the tool, you will need to follow a set of instructions. Additionally, you’ll need some sandpaper and a set of needle-nose pliers. Purchase enough black carbon tracing paper so you may transfer printed images to wood.

A ceramic tile or basin for holding hot points, a pencil, an eraser, a mask, an electric fan, and heat-resistant gloves are other tools you’ll need. You may buy suitable varnish, clear lacquer and wood stains if you want to add a finish to your artwork’s surface.

Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to burn wood art:

  1. Choose your preferred wood and design you wish to embellish on it. Make sure that the wood is dry, sanded smooth and unfinished before you start the project. You must learn about the best wood types that allow you to perform this art better. Poplar, basswood, birch etc are among the best woods for you to try this art form.
  2. Choosing a design is another important step. You may choose to have a stencil or even choose to print out your design. Always make sure that your wooden surface area is enough to accommodate the area of actual design.
  3. Before you start this artform, ensure that your workspace is flat, clean and well-ventilated. You need to take all the safety precautions for this wood-burning art project. Perform this art wearing a mask, and remember to switch off and unplug the burner when you are not using it.
  4. Before embellishing the design, size, cut and position the design or stencil carefully over the wooden object and tape it properly.
  5. Next, you have to slide the graphite paper under your design while ensuring that the darker side is in contact with the wood.
  6. Trace the outlines of the design carefully on your artwork using a ballpoint pen or an embossing tool. Do this by putting light to medium pressure.
  7. Take a look under the graphite paper and your design to ensure that the design has properly transferred onto the wooden surface before removing it.
  8. Select your burner nib, secure it with a screw, and heat your wood-burning instrument. You’re ready to burn once the tool is heated.
  9. Before you begin, check your temperature on a scrap of wood or the wooden piece’s backside. Go slowly when doing this step!
  10. Leave the rest of the task on the burner. Use steady, gentle pressure. Because you can always increase heat, adding more burn, start with a lower temperature. Simply glide through the surface using the tool.
  11. After you are done with the wood-burning, use a sand eraser to remove any remaining graphite lines. To smooth finishings, add color or a finish, or use varnish.

If you want to know about ‘how to burn wood art with a torch’, you have to follow the same steps. The only difference is that instead of the wood burner tool, you have to use a propane torch. It will enable you to burn the wood slowly. 

Similarly, to learn about ‘how to burn wood art with electricity’, you will need a microwave transformer, Jumper Cables, electricity supply etc. However, you must note that this is an extremely dangerous step. This is also called fractal wood burning or even Lichtenberg burning. Hence, you must perform wood art burning using electricity only under the supervision of an expert.

How to Choose a Wood-burning Tool ?

Wood-burning is a creative art form of embellishing a wood surface with designs. These designs are etched on the wooden surface with the help of heated equipment. If you want your Wood-burning experience to be hassle-free, choosing the right equipment for your Wood-burning project is very important. There are some existing aspects that one should consider when buying Wood-burning tools.

Type of Wood

One of the first components to remember is the type of wood on which you will be working, as it will significantly impact how the tool works. Different wood types have different textures and grain lines. Choosing a wood type with a smooth texture and small and tight pores is important as it assists the tip of the tool in gliding smoothly, yielding superior results. A more challenging wood type will require high temperature, whereas a soft wood type requires less temperature.

Type of Tip

Different types of tips are used to create different effects on the wood surface. Wood-burning tools that allow for changing tips help achieve different results. A solid point burner is beginner friendly and good for artists who want to do the job at a slower pace, whereas a wire tip burner is good for advanced artists who want to do the job faster. A universal is good enough for general purposes and is good for shading, outlining, lettering, etc.

Power Production

The next thing that you should check when buying a Wood-burning tool is its wattage rating. The wattage indicates the power production capacity of the equipment, which in turn indicates the maximum temperature the pen can achieve. Higher the wattage of the tool, the higher temperature it can achieve. A beginner-friendly wood-burning tool should have a power rating of at least 30W. The best-in-class Wood-burning tools have a power rating of 60W.

Heating and Temperature Control 

As we know, the temperature a tool can reach is related to the power rating of the tool. Therefore, the higher the wattage, the higher the temperature it can achieve. A tool with a high rating can reach a temperature of around 900 degrees, but such high temperatures are not required for Wood-burning. It is best to buy a Wood-burning pen with a temperature variation feature that will allow you to set the desired temperature.

Easy to Use

It is important to determine whether the Wood-burning tool that you are planning to buy is efficient and comfortable to use. It is best for beginners to get thick equipment with rubber padding, as it will prevent the artist’s hand from cramping by ensuring a firm grip and better control for tackling fine details. You can switch to a thinner tool as you become a seasoned artist.

Steps on How to do Wood-burning

Step 1

One of the first things you would need to do is choose the right wood type. A softwood that has a smooth texture with small and tight pores is ideal. Before starting the process, it is important to prepare the wood by sanding it with sandpaper and cleaning the dust to make it more smooth, as all wood comes with an uneven surface. Some of the best wood types for Wood-burning are poplar, birch, cherry, etc. 

Step 2

Once you have selected the wood type of your choice and have prepared it, you would need to choose the design you want to burn in the wood. You can choose a stencil if you are not sure about free-hand skills, or you can draw patterns and images from your imagination. One factor that you must remember while choosing the pattern or design is whether it will fit the surface area of the wood. 

Step 3

If you use a stencil to etch a particular design on the wood surface, you should make sure that it can be accommodated within the surface area of the wood surface. To do so, you can size and cut the design along the wood surface to make sure that the stencil will fit it perfectly and then tape the stencil to the surface so that while you are burning, the stencil doesn’t move. 

Step 4

As you are done with choosing the patterns and designs, you are almost ready to start with the work, but before you start, there are certain safety precautions that you must follow. Precautions like wearing heat-resistant gloves and a respiratory mask to prevent choking from the smoke produced should be taken for one’s own safety. Also, don’t work in an enclosed area. Rather, work in an open area that will provide proper ventilation. 

Step 5

After you have fixed the stencil on the wood surface, you would need to trace it onto the wood surface. To do so, you can use graphite paper. While tracing, make sure that the dark side of the graphite paper is in contact with the wood surface because then only the pattern will show up on the wood surface. Use an embossing tool or a ballpoint pen to trace the outline of the design onto the wood surface. Be careful as you trace the outline, and put medium to light pressure while doing this.

Step 6

You can start burning after ensuring that the pattern has been perfectly transferred on the wood surface. After confirming the proper tracing of the design outline, you can remove the graphite paper and the stencil cut out to start burning. Choose the type of tip for the Wood-burning pen with which you would like to work and start burning the outline of the design on the surface of the prepared wood once the tip has heated. 

Step 7

As you finish burning the outline of the design on the wood surface, you can start with filling and blocking the design. This is done to add more depth and volume and a realistic look to work. Here it is really important to choose the right type of tip, as different tips give different kinds of effects. Therefore, you must choose the right type of tip to get your desired effect. It is best to use a shading tip. 

Step 8

The temperature of the Wood-burning tool highly influences the quality of the end product. Different degrees of temperature will give a different effect. Therefore, setting the Wood-burning pen to the right temperature is important. If you want a darker shade, increase the temperature and burn with more impact. For lighter, soft shades work with less impact and decreases the temperature. 

Step 9

Filling and blocking add definition to the design you are working on, but shading the design in the right places can add a whole new dimension to it. Shading is different from simply filling in the space. To shade, you need to first decide the areas where you want to shade and how dark or light you want the shading to be. You can also change the shading in different areas to create a gradient effect. 

Step 10

You can further add colors to the design to give it more definition. colors can be added by using acrylics, inks, watercolor pencils, and stains. In what way you will add color depends on the look you want to achieve. Using ink and watercolor pencils will be more convenient for a beginner as they provide more control and are very efficient if you want to color a small space. Inks can be used as a stain or to add a color wash.

Step 11

After you are done with the burning, use a sand eraser to erase any remaining graphite lines. To make the Wood-burning project last longer and protect it, seal the project by using a wood sealer. To seal the end product, you can use finish oils, varnish, Polyurethane or shellac.

Safety Tips

Wood burning is an interesting and straightforward art form. Although, there are certain aspects one needs to take care of while working on a Wood-burning project to ensure their safety. Some safety precautions that any wood-burning artist must follow are listed below.

  • Wear Protective Gear

The equipment used for Wood-burning tool has tips that get heated, increasing the chances of getting burns. To prevent such accidents, make sure that you are protected from the heat. Wear heat-resistant finger gloves. The gloves will protect you from hot surfaces and burning sensations. Also, invest in a respirator mask to protect yourself from smoke produced during wood-burning. 

  • Avoiding touching the Tip of the Pen

In wood-burning, the images are burned on the surface of the wood with the help of heated tools known as Wood-burning pens. These Wood-burning pens have different tips which get heated and do the job. Wood burning is not similar to working with a regular pen. Therefore, one should never try to take a lower grip for better leverage as your finger might come in contact with the heated tip and burn your fingers. 

  • Check for Flammable Items

It is crucial to be completely aware of your surroundings and the items near your workstation. As the Wood-burning tool gets heated, if it comes in contact with synthetic, plastic or paper items that are flammable, it can lead to a huge safety hazard. Therefore, when you are working on your Wood-burning, ensure there are no flammable items nearby. 

  • Safety Instructions and Sturdy Working Station

It is effortless to become complacent with safety instructions with your skills getting refined, but to prevent any safety hazard, you must follow the prescribed safety instructions. It is also vital to guarantee that the surface on which you are working is steady, as it will help you work on your project smoothly. You should also use a pen stand to keep your tool in case you want a break in between.


Is Pyrography or wood-burning art safe?

Pyrography has some safety hazards, such as the possibility of breathing fumes or sawdust, dangers of burns from heat instruments, or the fire risk associated with heating wood products. Pyrography may be done safely, nevertheless, if the right precautions are used.

What kind of wood can you use for wood-burning artworks?

Hard and softwood can be used; however, the finest wood for wood burning is soft and light in color. Something that delivers a smooth and uniform burn and has a discrete grain.

On what other materials can you perform this art?

Despite being the most common surface, Pyrography is not just restricted to burning on wood. You may pyrography materials include paper, leather, gourds, nuts, bark, and ivory.


Wood burning art can be extremely fun and exciting provided it is done with the right set of tools and following a process. One key thing to ensure is your safety since the whole process involves multiple sharp tools and if not used carefully, they could cause injuries. I sincerely hope You are now aware of the needed equipment, supplies, and accessories and know how to burn wood art. If you are a beginner, take help from someone who has performed burn wood art for better comfort and learn from their experience. 

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