Electrified Wood Question

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Forum topic by Gene Howe posted 05-08-2012 02:25 PM 3298 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gene Howe

12314 posts in 4481 days

05-08-2012 02:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question woodburning

Recently saw a video where a guy used some sort of a transformer to generate 12K volts DC. He paints water on wood, in this case a bracelet, and places two contacts on the wet wood. When he applied the current, nice random burn marks appeared. My question is, what sort of a transformer, or other device, could be used to generate 12K DC safely?
I can envision many applications for this technique.
I couldn’t get the video to embed here, so here is a link to it.
Thanks for any suggestions.

-- 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

7 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 3339 days

#1 posted 05-08-2012 02:27 PM


-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View AlanWS's profile


133 posts in 4611 days

#2 posted 05-08-2012 03:29 PM

It is beautiful, but I don’t think you could call a 12KV power supply that can generate enough current to burn the wood that way “safe”. It’s the procedures followed during use that can make it safe.

This quote is from the blog linked in the video:

“Please remember that Mike is a long time employ of the Ohio electric company and he is highly trained to work with this type of voltage. This looks dangerous because it is. There is the possibility of death if you make a mistake. Please do not try to duplicate what Mike is about to show you.”

Are you sure the liquid is just water? Why do you think it’s DC?

-- Alan in Wisconsin

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3349 days

#3 posted 05-08-2012 03:44 PM

Transformers for cathode ray tubes go way beyond that and come in teeny packages. Pretty sure furnace transformers step up to something crazy like 200KV. And considering this guys video warns of the need for ‘PREOPR’ precautions, I’d stand very far back from his rig.

This shows a self-contained step up transformer that steps down current, so his rig is probably safer than you would expect:

View Dez's profile


1172 posts in 5130 days

#4 posted 05-08-2012 03:46 PM

Recently saw something like that. I don’t know if it’s the same guy or not.
I saw it in a newsletter from Steve at the “Scrollsaw Workshop” when he covered a recent scroll sawyers meet. This link will take you to his blog page, the article is down a ways where it says “daily posts start here”

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Charlie's profile


1101 posts in 3339 days

#5 posted 05-08-2012 03:57 PM

Get a “spark coil” from an older car that still used them. Hooked to a 12v power source, it will step the voltage up to somewhere around 20,000 volts plus.

The amperage is very low, but it’ll give you quite a tickle. Think spark plug wire from a car. ZZZzzzazap!

Probably pick up an ignition coil cheap at any auto junkyard.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3540 days

#6 posted 05-08-2012 04:44 PM

Actually you normally can’t make an AC/DC transformer without a rectifier. Also you can’t make a transformer work by supplying DC voltage to create DC voltage. Putting DC voltage through an ignition coil without pulsing it just doesn’t work.

It seems to me that the easiest way to do it would be to set your stick or MIG welder up as DC and then use the stinger and ground in close proximity to your wet spot on the wood to create a complete circuit.

Another way would be to use a battery as a voltage source with TIG like anode and Cathode. (We use to do emergency welding this way when I was a kid and needed to weld two or more wires together). Again, the wet spot creates the circuit so that it heats the wood to burning temperatures.

The little burning sparks you see as it creates the design is probably silicates, metallic minerals or other impurities.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View PutnamEco's profile


155 posts in 4339 days

#7 posted 05-08-2012 05:01 PM

Blog says he uses a neon sign transformer, they can be picked up easily from Ebay. Fun to make jacobs ladders with too.

-- “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

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