Woodburning Instructions

By Sarah Tidwell ; Updated September 15, 2017

Woodburning, also known as pyrography, is a rewarding hobby that uses a hot woodburning tool to score designs into a block of wood. The severity and deepness of each burn portrays a different color to help your picture come to life. This art project is ideal for creating signs or pictures, and even the most amateur woodworker can create woodburning masterpieces.

Preparation

Considering the steadiness of your hand is an excellent way to determine the level of woodburning project you should tackle initially. A picture with small detail is a tough first project, so consider starting with a sign to get the feel of the woodburning tool. Woodburned signs look nice hanging on front doors or in gardens. They typically display a last name and you can customize the designs around it. You can also practice using the woodburning tool on a scratch piece of wood before you start creating projects.

A piece of extremely smooth wood, any size you want, is essential for the outcome of the design. After you sand down the piece of lumber to ensure it is free of notches, use a clean damp cloth to wipe the surface clean and remove all dust particles. It is important to avoid leaving standing water on the wood from the wet cloth because the water can discolor the wood.

Transferring the Design

The benefit of woodburning art is that you can transfer a perfected design from a piece of tracing paper. Draw your message or picture with a pencil on a piece of tracing paper that is approximately the same size as the piece of wood. Ensuring the dimensions match up will help arrange your pictures during the drawing process. The advantage of using a pencil is that you can erase and fix the image prior to transferring it to the final surface. When the image is complete, flip the paper over and shade the entire side with the lead from the pencil. Place the side full of shading directly onto the piece of wood, lining up the paper edges with wood edges. You can tape it down to keep it in place. Trace your original picture lines over again to apply the lead shading to the wood in the design you created. If you make a darker line over the original line, it will help you determine which sections you have already gone over a second time.

Burning the Wood

Applying the woodburning tool to the outer, less detailed lines first helps to gather an idea about the darkness and shading of the lines to follow. If you turn the woodburning tool to the side and roll it between your fingers, you can more easily make rounded edges. When all the shading is complete, you can add colors by drawing with colored pencils. You can use any type of colored pencil, including watercolor pencils, to shade in blank space or add color to burned areas.

Finishing

Applying a coat of polyurethane sealer is necessary for protecting your design. Because each sealer is different, read the label to determine an appropriate number of coats as well as the drying time.