Pyrography is an inexpensive and fun art that can really spice up your DIY projects. You just need a pyrography pen, clean piece of wood, and your imagination, to create one-of-a-kind items.
Pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks applied from a heated object. You can personalise your woodworking projects by adding your name or initials, or get fancy and burn a design or scene into the wood.
The most common way to burn wood is with a pyrography pen (see the photo at the top of this post). These are called solid-point burners and are similar in look and design to a soldering iron. They have a solid brass tip which is heated by an electrical element, and operate at a fixed temperature.
More advanced pyrography tools have variable heat control and use a wire-nib burner (shown above) to create more precise wood burning detail.
To use a pyrography pen, press it against a wood canvas and hold and lift it at different intervals. The longer you keep the pen in contact with the wood, the darker and more expansive the mark. This shading effect is used to create a sense of depth and texture in the work.
You can use free pallet wood for pyrography, as long as you make sure it is sanded down smooth and free of any chemicals. A better option, though, would be pine boards from your local hardware store. Give them a light sand and you'll be ready to start burning.
Other popular woods for pyrography include basswood, butternut, mahogany and walnut/birch plywoods. Hardwoods that are lighter in colour will provide more contrast and show greater detail.
Burn A Copy
Going freehand allows for the most creativity, but using carbon paper allows for greater accuracy. Place the carbon paper on your board and under a design you've drawn or printed out, then trace over the design with a pencil to apply the mark to your board. Then use your pyrography pen and follow the pencil lines on the wood.
Pyrography online is a great resource with helpful forums and guides to get you started.
Lifehacker's Workshop column covers DIY tips, techniques and projects.