Tips for Wood Burning Tools

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Wood burning is a unique craft method that involves sketching an image on a flat piece of wood, then using wood-burning tools to burn the image into the wood. The burn techniques can produce various shades of brown or black in the wood, and the finished product can be stained, with standard wood stain, or simply finished with a sealant, glaze or polyurethane depending on the desired results.

Wood-Burning Tool

  • A basic wood-burning tool will resemble a pen and is often held in a manner similar to holding a pen. The tip or nib is sometimes replaceable but also can be permanent to that given tool. The tip will reach temperatures between 600 and 900 degrees (Fahrenheit) and should never be touched when hot. Anything it touches will burn or be damaged almost instantly, so keep it away from sketches, papers, people, pets, clothing and anything else that might be hurt or damaged while the wood-burning tool is hot.

Replacement Tips for Wood-Burning Tools

  • Replacement tips are available through wood-burning suppliers or through some craft supply stores. The tips may have different points or chisel-like shapes at the end to assist in the creation of the desired images in the wood. These different tips also produce different effects, similar to the way different paintbrush styles create different effects. If using only one wood-burning tool, allow the minimum cooling time (as directed in the instruction guide that accompanies the tool) before attempting to replace the tip with a new or different one.

Cleaning the Tips of Wood-Burning Tools

  • With use, the metal tips that heat up on a wood-burning tool will darken, and this can affect the control the artist has when trying to use it for new wood-burning projects. Use a very fine sandpaper on the cooled tip to remove the darkened residue and return it to a like-new finish. Over time, the tips can become dull or damaged, and they will need replacing. To avoid damaging a project, pay attention to the condition of the tips every time the wood-burning tools are put away after use.

Practice Using the Wood-Burning Tools

  • Practice wood-burning techniques on a scrap piece of wood before beginning a project. The tips have different contact sites that are used to produce different effects. For example, the very point of the tip is used to make dots or add texture, such as when burning images of trees or animals with fuzzy or fluffy fur. There is a narrow, blade-like edge at the bottom of the tip that can resemble a chisel; this is used for a variety of stroke styles as well as producing light and dark shades. On the side of the tip is a flat surface known as the blade, which is used for shading or producing a gradient effect.

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