Enjoy my writing and art? Want to see more? Support my work on Patreon!
Use a wood burner to create a work of art
Wood burning can be a great way to create unique pieces of art. This article will help you get started on your own wood burning projects.
What You’ll Need:
Wood burning tool and various heads, pre-made plain wooden plaque (Pine is best. If you’re going to make your own plaque you will also need a saw, router with bit, and sandpaper) , design of your choice, ball-point pen
The easiest way to start a wood-burning project is to get a pre-made wooden plaque or tree slice. If you’re going to make it on your own, you’ll need to saw the piece of wood to size and shape, decorate the edges using your router and desired bit, then clean up the piece using fine sandpaper. Once you have your wood prepared, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
When doing wood burning, it’s a good idea to practice on some scraps so you can get used to what each head will do. Some will make fine lines, thick lines, multiple lines at once, and some even do smooth shading or etch deeply into the wood. Familiarize yourself with each of the bits before you try doing a real piece of art. It’s also important to learn the right amount of pressure to use with each head. Normally, you don’t want to press too hard, or you’ll scorch the wood badly and ruin the design.
You next step is to get your design ready. I suggest starting out with a design that is just a plain outline, and work up to images that have crosshatching or shading once you have more experience. Print your design out at the right size to fit the piece of wood you’re working on. Next, you’ll need to tape the design down to your wood. After that, take a ball-point pen and trace over the design, pressing just hard enough to create an impression in the wood. This will be your guide while you are burning.
Now that you have your guide lines made, remove the paper and begin burning. Take your time and make sure you use the right wood-burning heads. If you forget what head does what, test on a scrap of wood. Don’t forget: It’s always best to make light burns at first, and go back over them if they need to be darker. You can always go deeper and darker, but if you go too deep or too dark to start, you’re stuck with it. After you have your outline in place, your design can be considered complete. If you want to make it more interesting, there are some things you can do.
After creating a burned wood plaque I have gone back and added more detail using crosshatch or shading bits. I have also added color to the design using colored pencils, brush markers and both watercolor and acrylic paint. The wonderful thing about using paint on a wood-burned design is that the burned lies will keep the paint from bleeding along the grain of the wood, so you can get a really nice addition of color without the worry.
Once you have completed your wood-burned plaque, with or without color, you may want to seal the piece. I have used both spray-on clear coat and brush-on polyurethane. Spray-on tends to work best if you have added paint to the piece, as you will not run the risk of smearing the paint. Be sure that no matter what product you use, you choose one that will dry completely clear. I find that a layer of spray-on clear coat followed by several coats of brush-on polyurethane creates a gorgeous glassy surface to your finished work.
Now that you have the basics, you can move on to all sorts of burned wood projects. I have done wall-hangings, boxes, name plates and all sorts of other projects. If you’re creative, you can even use your wood burning tool on things other than wood. If you want to try that, I suggest testing on a small sample first, and never use your wood burning tool on plastic. Just practice your skill, and enjoy your future wood-burned art.