Wood burning is an easy craft, and once you have the basics, you will want to go on to many different projects. Wood signs with your name or street address to place in front of your house or business adds a bit of class. Engrave names on trinket boxes, puzzle boxes and jewelry to give as gifts.
Wood-burning tools are generally inexpensive. Wood isn't the only material you can burn, as many artisans decorate gourds by burning. For pyrography--which means fire writing--on wood or a gourd, you should start out with three basic pens, according to the Web site nedraspyrography.com (see Resources).
Some basic tools include a shader, which is useful because of its versatility. A small-ball writer is another versatile pen, which glides over the wood and is easy to hold. The round-heeled knife or skew can be used for flat or carved lines.
Tracing paper also comes in various types, but graphite paper is the best because it is easy to use, non-toxic and any errors made are easy to fix. Transparent wax paper is another excellent tracing paper, especially for those just starting. You can purchase wood burning kits at Michael's or Walmart that include the necessary tools for your project.
Make a template of the letters you want to use (or use stencils) and cut the design around the edges and tracing paper to the same size as the design, then place the tracing paper under the template. Prepare the wood by sanding and smooth out with a cloth. If using a painted wood service, lightly sand and wipe with a cloth then attach the design, with tracing paper under it to the wood with masking tape. Use a pencil to trace the design on the wood.
When using a tool to engrave wood, hold the tool lightly with the handle and move the tool quickly on the wood without much pressure. The more pressure you put on the pen, the darker the shade, but swift movements across the wood will be enough to etch into the wood with fine lines and light shadows, according to the online tutorial carvingpatterns.com.
If you want curving lines, hold the burning tool with your thumb and forefinger at the shaft and roll; the blade of the tool creates detailing, such as shading letters and adds depth.
As you work, some deposits of ash will collect on the surface. Keep a cloth handy to wipe as you work. Use a ruler to keep your letter line straight, according to miycreations.com.
Most craft stores have shaped wood pieces such as oval, square and odd shapes to make plaques. Try creating an Ouija board. Print a design from your computer to use as a template, trace on the wood with your tracing paper and burn the design or letters in. After completion, varnish the board with clear polyurethane to allow the planchette to move across the wood with ease. An inverted wine glass works great as planchette, according to graveaddiction.com.