How to do Wood Burning without a Kit ?

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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.

Pyrography, also known as wood burning, is an excellent technique for people who love to sketch and want to try their hands at a new material. Wood burning is the art of freehand designing and decorating wood by burning images and patterns on the wood surface. The designs are etched on the material with the help of heated tools such as a poker. 

Ways to Perform Wood Burning Without Using a Kit

Creating a wood-burning art piece involves:

  • Following specific steps in order, like preparing the wood.
  • Choosing the right wood-burning tips.
  • Putting a suitable wood-burning finish to protect and preserve the piece.

Traditionally, the etching of the designs or patterns involves freehand movement and is carved on the wood surface with the help of some heated tools like a poker or some other heated metal implement. However, with modernisation, many specialized modern pyrography tools can be used. These tools have various nibs or tips suited for specific styles. 

If you are a pyrography enthusiast and want to start wood burning, there are certain things you need to make sure you are equipped with before you start. As we know, previously, a heated metal implement was used. Still, different modernisation tips and other wood-burning kits have come into the market, which assists wood-burning artists in honing their skills.

Though, there can be times when such wood-burning kits or tools are not available at the moment. In such cases, you can burn wood without using wood-burning tools or nibs. Different ways in which you can perform wood burning without using a wood-burning kit. 

Working with a traditional wood-burning tool can be difficult for someone who has just started with wood-burning and does not have much knowledge about the art. The wood-burning tool and kit can be very expensive, which can be discouraging for many wood-burning enthusiasts. You can use the following methods for practicing wood burning, which can be done without a wood-burning kit.

Chemical Markers

One of the first methods by which you can practice wood burning without a kit is by using chemical markers. Chemical markers[1] look like regular markers, which you can use to draw the desired design or pattern on the wood surface. Using a traditional wood-burning tool for pyrography can cause many hazards and be difficult to handle, so many use wood-burning projects to avoid accidents. 

You can find many such markers in the market. These are very easy to use and cost much less than a regular wood-burning pen. Unlike a regular wood-burning pen, the only things you need to use these markers for wood burning are a wooden surface and a heat gun. 

You can use these markers to create different lines and styles, just like a traditional wood-burning pen. The markers come with different tips, allowing you to create lines and experiment with various techniques. You can also use these with any stencils to trace the design on the wood surface. 

These chemical makers are safe to use as they are non-toxic. Heat is not required until the very end. Therefore, it’s safe for children as well. The ink used in these markers has some chemicals which react when it comes in contact with heat and gives the burned effect.

The most commonly used tip is the bullet-style marker tip. The working of this tip is quite similar to a paint marker, where the nib of the marker is primed before using it. The bullet-style marker tip offers you firm control, which makes it perfect for hand lettering or freehand creating. The other most commonly used tip is foam, which gives a paintbrush effect. The foam tip is wonderful for filling in large areas and painting stencils.

You can use either of them to fill in the design or pattern that you want to burn on the wood surface. Once you are done with filling the design, you start with the process of burning it. To burn it, you would only need a heat gun. The main thing you should take care of is the heat used. 

An open flame torch or heat gun of around 1500 watts is good enough for the job as it creates the optimum level of what is deep enough to leave a permanent burn and is also soft enough for mistakes to be sanded down. 

Aluminum Chloride and Thickener Solution

Everyone loves the rustic farmhouse look of burnt wood, and it is a great thing to incorporate in decor projects, though burning with heating tools can be dangerous for people who are unaware of how to use them and are new to this job. Another way to burn wood without fire is to use ammonium chloride powder and a thickener.

It is very safe to use and can also be used by children under some adult supervision. Aluminum chloride[2] and the thicker[3] can be easily bought from any online store or a local hardware shop. The amount of aluminum chloride to be used depends on the size of your project.

One pound of aluminum chloride will go a long way. To use it for wood burning, you need to mix it with a thickener. The thickener compound is used, so the solution does not bleed out to other areas and stays in place.

You can start making the solution by mixing four teaspoons of the thickener compound of any company and half a tablespoon of the aluminum chloride powder in a clean mixing container. To this, pour a quarter cup of warm water and stir the mixture till it’s thick and smooth. The mixture will start thickening as you stir it but to get the right consistency, you will need to let the mixture rest for five minutes after mixing it thoroughly.

Once the mixture has reached the optimum consistency, you can start applying it on the wooden surface with the help of a paintbrush. Apply this mixture generously but not excessively. Since this is a thick mixture, any excess layer will delay the burning process. After the application is made, you would need to allow the mixture to soak into the wood, which would take about an hour if you want a good finished product.

You can start burning the design after an hour with the help of a heat gun. The temperature of the heat gun needs to be adjusted according to the texture and effect you want. To avoid scorching the wood, keep the heat gun at a distance of two to three inches from the wood surface and keep moving. It is a great way to burn designs using stencils.


Pyro Printers are the ultra-modern machines used to etch images and designs on wooden surfaces without any heated tools. It is a simple tool for wood burning. It provides you with better control of the process and gives you a safer experience of wood burning than any conventional wood-burning pen. Many companies manufacture such machines. Pyro Printers are a revolutionary device that has changed how wood is burning. However, these machines are quite expensive and are mainly used by seasoned pyrography artists in a professional setting.

This CNC machine features a nichrome[4] wire, making poker work on a wooden surface. Among many models of pyro printers available in the market, a model with a power rating of fifteen watts is considered ideal.

An average pyroprinter has a working field of 43×42 centimeters which can be easily increased to 43х92 centimeters. This machine creates pictures line by line. As a result, you get amazing pictures printed on the wood surface. The device operates autonomously without making much noise. On average, it takes about an hour to print a photo on one A4 piece. It is a great device for creating customized gifts for your friends and family. You can also use this to start a business or create designs for businesses to attract customers.

You can use pyroprinter on any kind of natural material. It includes wood, leather, etc. One of the first things you should readily check when choosing the material is that it is not varnished. If you want to burn on a wood surface, choose a light-coloured wood type. ensure that it has a smooth texture. It will allow you to create a clean canvas with optimum contrast.

Safety tips when doing wood burning without a kit

When doing wood burning, whether by using a kit or not, it is very important to take the necessary safety precautions to avoid any kind of accident or injury. Precautions like wearing personal protective equipment[5] and using the right methods in the right way.

Even if you use some other method for wood burning, some heating will be there, generating smoke. This, if inhaled, can cause respiratory problems[6]. To avoid such situations, make sure to do it in an outdoor setting or if doing it inside a room, make sure the room is well-ventilated or keep a small fan handy. Also, make sure to wear a respiratory mask which has organic filters to protect oneself from the toxic fumes that might be produced.

The heating tool which you will be using will be heated to great degrees. Therefore, there is a high chance of getting burns from the heat emitted by the heating tool. To protect your hands from heat, wear heat-resistant hand gloves or finger gloves according to your preference to easily handle the hot wood afterwards. It is also vital to be aware of your surroundings and the surface on which you are doing the wood burning.

Before applying the heat, ensure there are no flammable items, especially items made of paper or plastic. Also, be aware of the surface on which you are going to do the wood burning. It is best to use a heating pad to prevent the surface from getting damaged by the heat.


Thus, whether you have a wood-burning kit or not, you can still practice this beautiful art of pyrography by following the methods mentioned above. It is important to choose the method after at least having the proper knowledge about the materials used and their proper application. Also, it is very crucial to take the necessary safety precautions to prevent any kind of accidents and protect oneself from potential injuries.


  1. Marker, S. (n.d.-a). #1 Craft Glue, Sealer & Finish | Wood Burning marker | Scorch Marker. Scorch Marker.

  2. PubChem. (n.d.). Aluminum chloride. PubChem.

  3. Penta, N. K. (2016). Abrasive-free and ultra-low abrasive chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) processes. In Elsevier eBooks.

  4. What Is Nichrome Wire Used for? (2020, January 21). Sciencing.

  5. Woodburning Tools: safety gear for pyrography artists. (n.d.).

  6. Wood smoke and your health | US EPA. (2023, August 18). US EPA.,-Click%20on%20image&text=The%20biggest%20health%20threat%20from,and%20illnesses%2C%20such%20as%20bronchitis

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