The Basic Wood Burning Tool

Variable Temperature Tools

Variable temperature systems have a dial thermostat that allows you to control how cool or hot your tip is. You can adjust the temperature setting quickly making it easy to control your tonal values in your project. This style has two types of pens – the fixed tip pen where the tip is permanently set in the hand grip and the interchangeable pen where different wire tips can be used with the hand grip.

I use three systems equally – the Colwood Detailer, the Optima 1, and the Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool.

Colwood Wood Burning System

Colwood Detailer

This Colwood Detailer is a single pen unit that has a wide range of temperature settings. Changing fixed pens or changing tips on the interchangeable pens is quick and easy. It is a temperature dial system is very reliable for quick tonal value changes.

This particular unit can reach very hot temperatures so I find myself working in the mid-range temp settings, usually between 4 and 6 and working to the extreme black tones is simply a matter of turning up the heat.

The cork handles are very comfort and dramatically reduce the heat transfer from the tip to your hand. Colwood uses a positive, tight connector for the interchangeable tip pen making the exchange of tips easy. The Colwood Detailer has a very small footprint on the work table making it perfect for the home hobbyist.



Optima Wood Burning SystemThe Optima  wood burning system is also an excellent choice for any pyrographer.  Each pen measures about 6 1/2″ long from connection end to burning tip. They are light weight and have extra thick, firm foam wrapping at the finger holding point. That foam is more than substantial and measures a 1/4″ thick. This is not the thinner, soft foam padding of one of my other burning units; this foam is 1/4″ thick, strong, and extra firm.

Also included in the instructions is a step on how to clean your pen tips with a leather strop and aluminum oxide that is well worth reading. Also of note here is that Optima has an excellent FAQ section on their website that is well worth reading even if you are a long time craftsman!


Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool

Walnut Hollow has added a thermostat to the cord of their wood burner, creating an excellent and inexpensive variable temperature burner, the Versa-Tool.  I strongly recommend this burner for anyone that wishes to try some wood burning before the invest into a higher priced model.

The Versa-Tool uses brass screw-in, interchangeable tips and the thermostat provides a wide range of temperature setting.  My Versa-Tool ended up in my wood carving kit as it is perfect for adding fine detail burn lines to your decoy carving and for cleaning up basswood projects that will be painted.


Welsh love spoons and celtic knot patterns by Lora S IrishWelsh Love Spoons
Welsh Love Spoons have long been a traditional gift from a young man to his true love. These delightful wood carved spoons are now featured in our new pattern package with over 40 full size designs plus two mix and match unit pages to create your own unique spoon pattern.




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