How to Imprint Letters on Wood

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Things You'll Need

  • Wood blank

  • Fine sandpaper

  • Stencils or hand-drawn pattern

  • Colored pen

  • Carbon paper

  • Tape

  • Wood burning pen

  • Calligraphy tip

Pyrography uses hot metal to burn letters and other designs into wood.

Pyrography is the art of imprinting designs on wood using fire. While this can be accomplished with heated metal brands or even a magnifying glass and sunlight, most modern pyrographers use a wood burning pen, a hand-held device with replaceable wire or metal tips which heat up, allowing the user to draw or write on the wood. Imprinting letters may be accomplished freehand or following a pattern with a wood burning pen using a calligraphy tip.


Step 1

Sand the wood blank to a smooth surface. A rough surface makes it difficult to make smooth strokes with the wood burning pen.

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Step 2

Make a pattern of the writing you wish to imprint by drawing it on a piece of paper in pencil. Transfer the pattern by placing carbon paper between the wood and the paper pattern, tape everything in place and draw over the pattern with a colored ball point pen. Alternately, use stencils to draw letters directly on the wood with a pencil.


Step 3

Remove the pattern and carbon paper. Place a calligraphy tip on the wood burning pen and plug it in. Set the pen's temperature to the appropriate level for the wood you are imprinting -- cooler for softwoods and hotter for hardwoods.

Step 4

Follow the pattern on the wood with the tip of the wood burning pen, using a slow, steady stroke. Do not push the tip hard against the wood; it's the speed of the stroke which determines the depth and darkness of the burn, not the pressure. A slow stroke makes a deep, dark line and a faster stroke makes a lighter, finer line.


Step 5

Sand the completed wood project to remove any remaining pencil lines from the pattern. Stain and varnish the wood to protect it and add color and shine.


Basswood is the preferred wood for beginning pyrographers. It has an even grain and requires lower heat for burning than many hardwoods.


The tip of a wood burning pen gets hot enough to cause injury and fire. Always place the pen on a safe surface like a thick ceramic tile when it is in use. Be careful to grasp it safely when picking it up.


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