DIY with Andrea: Wood-Burning 101

Today’s tutorial is less of “make this” and more of ” here are some basics, now go forth a do what you will”. As you have seen from some of my Works in Progress, I have been doing some minor (read: just a little) wood-burning. Not enough to make me an expert, but enough to have some tips.

So, here they are. I hope they encourage you to try it for yourself.

You want to start with unfinished wood. This is a biggie. If the wood has been varnished, sealed, lacquered, or whatever, you will be burning that varnish, sealant, lacquer, or whatever when you wood-burn. Problem is, those things can smell awful. And who knows exactly what they give off when burned.

When I have found the wood I am going to use, I transfer my drawing onto it. I have found that the white transfer paper (you can find it anywhere they have drawing/art supplies i.e. Hobby Lobby/Micheal’s) is the easiest to see on wood. So you cut the transfer paper to size, lay your drawing over the top, tape it all down and using a pen trace your image. It works like magic.

Then you are ready to get wood-burning. For anybody who is worried about the price of a wood-burning tool; don’t. I got mine for $10 at Hobby Lobby, and replacement tips are $5 for a set. Of course, the caveat is that this tool only burns at one temperature, HOT. This means it is more difficult to get subtle variations in tone if you are interested in doing lots of shading. But I do believe that this is a good tool to start with, and it can help you decide if  you like wood-burning before blowing hundreds on a really nice tool with temperature dials.

Okay, now make sure you are working in a well ventilated area. I personally wear a mask, and sometimes even safety goggles. The little puffs of smoke can be really irritating to your sinuses and eyes. So I would rather be cautious and enjoy the rest of my day, instead of ending up with a massive headache.

Attach the tip you want to use to the wood-burning pen, and then plug it in. I suggest you try out all of the tips that come with the pen. You might be surprised by which one becomes your favorite.

Once the tip has heated up, slowly draw around your image. Be careful not to touch ANY METAL on the pen, it is extremely hot. And when you set the pen down, make sure you place it on the rest included in the kit away from anything flammable.

And experiment with the different marks you can make by holding the pen different ways. Or burn the wood a little more or a little less. Practice makes perfect, and I am far from perfect.

Unscrew the tip partially with pliers when you are done drawing and have unplugged the pen. If you let it cool in the pen without unscrewing, it could get stuck. FOREVER. 🙂

If you choose to paint or seal the wood, do it after you are done wood-burning.

See what I did?!?

I really hope you try this. It is a wonderful medium, just be careful.

So, until next time. 🙂



2 responses to “DIY with Andrea: Wood-Burning 101

  1. Martha Ellis

    Andrea, this is a great tutorial. I’ve always wanted to try woodburning. OK, it won’t be anytime soon, but at least when I have the time I know right where to go to start myself off. Thanks, Martha (wearyourpassion and just put in nuevomexcelente for team membership) P.S. Hope more team members read this and maybe do some experimenting!

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