first attempt at wood burning (pyrography)

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Project by TDW posted 12-10-2019 04:34 PM 386 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first try at this – it is supposed to represent a butterfly. I used a bandsaw box that I just made real quick for this only. It was just junk pine I had around. What I found out was that pine, even though it had very little grain showing, is not a good wood to use. It is difficult to burn evenly.

What I need to ask is what types of wood are the best to use. Wood that I can find locally. I have not been able to locate bass wood. From my quest on the internet it seems that it needs to be a light colored hardwood that has very little grain but I’m not sure.

If you want to see some amazing stuff take a look at this you tube video of an advanced pyrography expert burning a portrait into wood. I have never seen anything better.

You will have to copy the link above and paste it int a browser. You also will have to let add run for 5 seconds then you can click on skip ad and it will take you to the video.

-- Tom, Ky.

8 comments so far

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12000 posts in 4035 days

#1 posted 12-10-2019 05:14 PM

Poplar or birch would be good woods for pyography. Both readily available at the big box stores.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View mpounders's profile


946 posts in 3502 days

#2 posted 12-10-2019 08:04 PM

You typically won’t find much basswood locally, unless you live in Minnesota/Wisconsin. But Hobby Lobby usually has some rounds for wood burning. Baltic birch is usually pretty good, but you can even burn on leather or paper. I usually buy my basswood from Heinecke and have it shipped, but you can skip shipping if you find a carving show to attend. Just check and see if the show will have someone selling wood.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Underdog's profile


1437 posts in 2642 days

#3 posted 12-10-2019 08:40 PM

I think that any even grained wood will burn well. Avoid anything that has prominent growth rings.

I’ve found hard rock white maple, beech, alder, mahogany, and bradford pear to all be good burning woods.
See my gallery for examples of the first four. (sort-of – the maple was just a paint grade maple.)

Of course my style is more of a burn-carve rather than that fine photographic work anyway…

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View BurlyBob's profile


6912 posts in 2872 days

#4 posted 12-10-2019 10:51 PM

Your brave. My first burning project was far less intricate. I’ve found beech to be a very easy wood for burning. It lends itself to a very even burn. I’ve also done a couple of small sign projects with alder. It also burns quite evenly.
Your box design is really quite unique. I like it a lot and my try to copy it when I get a free minute.

View ralbuck's profile


6312 posts in 2873 days

#5 posted 12-11-2019 01:43 AM

A well done project in all aspects.

Woodburning is definitely an acquired skill. Keep the points clean and be VERY creful about where the burner gets set down! I always leave mine on a metal tool table when done using before putting them away.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View swirt's profile


4570 posts in 3578 days

#6 posted 12-11-2019 02:44 AM

Your first attempt looks great. Nice looking box too.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6789 posts in 3801 days

#7 posted 12-11-2019 04:37 PM

I’ve tried a little wood burning, but I like leather burning a lot more…I go into it when I started doing leather work, tooling, and pictorial carvings…..The inside (rough) part of the cow hide is the best for burning….I use a 900 watt burner, but you have to be careful, cause that sucker gets HOT….!! I put a piece of cork w/ a rubber band around mine to keep from burning my fingers….Here’s a couple of examples of what I do, or have done…...The Indian picture is leather burning, and the horse is called inverted carving, or figure carving…..!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3941 days

#8 posted 12-12-2019 12:23 PM

I don’t have any experience with pyrography, but I wonder if pine would burn well if it were first treated with a sealing coat of shellac or diluted (1 part hide glue and 7 parts water) to harden the surface. I mention these particular sealers since they are organic in nature and I would think any smoke from them would therefore be non-toxic.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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