How to Trace Your Pattern on to Wood

How to Trace Your Pattern on to Wood

Preparation – Begin by cleaning, and sanding your wood to create a smooth surface on to which you can transfer your pattern.  Remove all sanding dust using a dusting brush and clean, dry cloth.

Chose Your Tracing Media – There are three primary tracing products which are graphite paper, carbon paper, newspaper, and a soft #4 to #8 artist pencil.

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tracing your pattern to the wood with graphite paperGraphite Paper Graphite paper can be purchased through both office supply and craft stores.  It comes in several colors, including gray, white, and blue for easy tracing onto different colors of wood.  Graphite leaves a very fine line on the wood and can be erased with a white artist eraser after you have completed your project.





how to trace your pattern to the woodCarbon Paper Carbon paper comes in 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets and has a very dark, heavy layer of tracing media on the back surface.  It is available in deep blue and black colors.  Carbon paper lines do not erase easily and should be carved or scraped away as your work your project.  Use this media on projects that will receive excessive handling or for long-term projects as it holds up very well.  Because carbon paper was primarily used with typewriter to create multiple copies, you may need to do a little searching to find it.




how to trace your pattern to the woodPencil Rubbing – My favorite way to trace my pattern to the wood is to rub the back of the pattern paper with a #4 to #8 artist pencil. This creates a layer of graphite that will easily transfer to the wood surface as your copy the pattern lines with an ink pen.  Pencil rubbings work extremely well for wood, gourds, and even leather.  Woodless pencils work wonderfully for tracing.


Newspaper – Heavily printed sheets of newspaper works wonderfully as a tracing media.  As you trace along the pattern lines the printer’s ink from the newspaper will leave a dotted line on the wood.  This process is especially good for extra large projects as out door signs or long, wide mantel boards.  The ink is easily erased with a white artist’s eraser.


tracing your pattern to the wood1.  Adjust your digital pattern as necessary to fit your project piece.  Print several copies of your pattern – one for the main tracing, one for cutting and tracing small areas of the pattern, and one for a reference to the detail lines of the design.

You will need a ruler, a small t-square or right angled triangle, a pencil, painters or masking tape, scissors, and several colors of ink pen.  Of note, my ruler is cork-backed to grip the wood surface and keep the ruler from sliding.


tracing your pattern to the wood2.  With a right angle triangle or small t-square mark the center vertical line of your project’s surface.





tracing your pattern to the wood3.  Use your ruler to find and mark the center point of your vertical line.





tracing your pattern to the wood4.  With the t-square or right angle triangle, draw a horizontal line across the project surface at the center point of the vertical line.




tracing your pattern to the wood5.  Fold your printed pattern into quarters, matching the outer pattern lines on the sides of the pattern. Place the folded pattern on to the wood, aligning the paper folds to the marked lines on the wood.

If you will using a pencil rubbing for your tracing media, open the folded pattern and rub the back of the pattern to completely cover it with pencil graphite.  Refold your pattern and begin the positioning steps.



tracing your pattern to the wood6.  Unfold your pattern, continuing to match folds in the pattern paper with your guidelines.  Cut several small strips of painters tape.  Use the tape to secure two sides of the pattern paper to the wood surface.





tracing your pattern to the wood7.  Use a colored ink pen to mark any changes you want to make in the pattern, so that you will follow your changes during the tracing process.





tracing your pattern to the wood8.  Slide your tracing media – graphite paper, carbon paper, newspaper – under the printed pattern with the tracing surface against the wood.  Trace along the pattern lines with a colored ink pen.  Use a light pressure, just enough to transfer the pattern line without leaving an indented score line from the ink pen’s point.  When your tracing is complete lift the pattern paper at one of the un-taped corners.  Check your work before you remove the pattern paper and tape.



tracing your pattern to the wood9.  Trace only those lines that you really need for your initial working steps.  For my Beta Fish relief carving I needed only the outlines of each area of the fish and the outlines of the grass to work the rough out carving steps.




tracing your pattern to the wood10.  When your project work is done, remove any remaining tracing lines using a white artist’s eraser.   Avoid colored erasers that can leave dye streaks on your carving or pyrography work.





tracing your pattern to the wood11.  Click on the small image on the right for your free full-sized, printable Beta Fish pattern – a design from Relief Carving Workshop, by Lora Irish.




how to trace your pattern to the wood12.  This second example is from the Wood Spirit Carving project posted on the Wood Carving Illustrated Forum.  The pattern was transferred to the wood using typewriter carbon paper because the project would require intense handling.

Relief Carving Wood Spirit Grape Man WIP – Over 250 detailed, close-up photos with step-by-step instructions of relief carving the wood spirit, green man face. This thread has had over 69,000 views!

how to trace your pattern to the wood13.  After the levels where established in the carving I cut my paper pattern into small sections that could be easily re-traced to the project.






how to trace your pattern to the wood14.  Click on the small image to the right for a free full-sized printable pattern.


Leather Purse Pyrography Project

Leather Purse Pyrography Project

Leather Purse Pyrography, Greenman Face, Project

Leather Purse Pyrography, Double-Needle Stitching

Plus our Your First Carving Project is towards the bottom of this post.

Because of all the interest from our FaceBook fans I have posted two more
free e-Projects on my pattern website. Levels in Releif Wood Carving PDF,
and Pyrography Pen Tips are posted on our home page at

New seven page, in-depth, step-by-step instructions project on creating your own leather burned purse, with a Greenman face on your front flap. Plus an indepth look at how to do the double-needle stitching pattern on leather.

Leather Purse Pyrography, Greenman Project by Lora Irish

To often I am so serious about our pyrography work, carefully planning each layer of burning, examining every stroke for even thickness and tonal value, trying to create as perfect as possible a realistic reproduction.

But once in a while I just ‘wanna have fun’.  And this is the perfect, just have fun project.  Because this was created as a text run for my new book, The Art of Leather Burning, I wasn’t concerned about absolutely matching ever corner or seam, or carefully measuring the distance between every stitching awl hole, or even about how the fill patterns I chose matched the ones I had already burned.  The entire idea behind this leather burned purse was to just see what I could do, and how I could do it.

creating a pocket flap for a leather purse
I am a strong advocate of practice boards.  Usually this is a small scrap of the same material from which you will work your main project upon which you can experiment with your temperature settings, pen tips, and fill patterns.

Well, this time, when I began my work with pyrography on leather, my practice board got a touch out of hand.  I began my text project with a 10 lb. scrap bag of vegetable-dyed leather from Springfield Leather Co.  which contained a variety of weights, textures, and species of leather pieces.

creating a pocket flap for a leather purse

What came out of this practice session was a Greenman Slop Bag!  This rough and rugged purse measures 7 1/2″ high, 9 1/2″ wide, and 2 3/4″ thick.  The front of my purse has a double pocket and the back has one large pocket with a hidden pocket inside of it.  Its constructed using an awl to create the stitching holes and the simple double-needle stitching pattern.

wood burning on leather

I’m not done with this purse yet.  To date I have only gotten the front flap, top roll over, and front of the purse body burned.  So I still have the entire back, the sides, and the should strap on which to play, and experiment with more fill textures, shading ideas, and even miniature patterns.

Play, practice, experiment, and create … that is our goal!

So, please visit my newest pyrography project, which has the free greenman face pattern, at

Leather Purse Pyrography, Greenman Face, Project

and … there’s more!

Your First Carving by LS Irish
Free PDF e-Project download for Wood Carving

This free PDF takes you through the basics of wood carving, including woods, supplies, cuts, and tools.
Download now by clicking on the link above.

Lora Irish Free Projects

Lora Irish Free Projects

Our pattern site,,
has a 3for15 sale this week.

Any 3 pattern packs for only $5 each.
And … you can use the coupon code every day
through Sun., Jan 29th, 2017.
Add the coupon code  3for15
to your shopping cart at check out.

Since Mike and I came to the web in 1997 I have posted a free, online, step-by-step seminar each year. Many of those seminars are posted right here on our blog at, and some were posted to other wood carving, wood burning community forums.  I thought you would enjoy a list with links to some of our favorite past projects.


This year’s free, online seminar links:

Cross Crafting Wood Carving. Pyrography, and Scroll Saw Free ProjectCross-Crafting Seminar Introduction
Cross-Crafting Seminar Supply List
Cross-Crafting Seminar Free Patterns
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Saw Basics
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Setting Up Your Scroll Saw
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Sawing the Wood Spirit Face

Cross-Crafting Seminar, Wood Burning the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Colored Pencils for the Wood Spirit Face


Posted here at

irish_tiki_0002Whittle Tiki Chess Set – Wood Carving
This beginner’s wood carving project will guide you through the cutting strokes that create those wonderfully expressive Tiki faces. Includes the free patterns to make your own chess set.

Basics to Painting – Painting your Wood Carving and Wood Burning
Have fun exploring the numerous techniques you can use to add coloring to your wood burnings, wood carvings, and scroll saw projects.

Postage Stamp Pyrography – Pyrography and wood burning
Have a little fun tonight working through how easy it is to wood burning Celtic interlocking lines and knots.

Canada GooseRelief Canada Goose Carving Seminar – Relief wood carving, pyrography, and painting
Explore the basic techniques used in relief wood carving, including working in layers and levels, undercutting, and smoothing the background. Then add fine detailing using your wood burning tool. Finish this step-by-step project by creating realistic coloring using the dry brushing technique.

Whittle Fish Seminar – Wood carving
Ice fishing decoys are quick, easy, and extremely fun to carve. All you need is a bench knife, a few pieces of basswood, some scrap leather or copper sheeting, and some imagination. Since these are primitive art, anything goes when carving fish decoys.

LSIrish_chip0009Chip Carving Seminar – Chip Carving, wood carving
Chip carving is a specialty area in wood carving. With the use of a short-bladed chip carving knife, small triangular cuts create intrigue motifs and designs. Includes a full-sized sampler pattern.

Celtic Dragon Plaque – Relief wood carving
This is an entry-level carving project for both relief carving and for working the interlocking patterns of the Celtic Knot

Wood Spirit Carving – Wood carving, cane and walking stick carving
Carving a human face into your next walking stick or cane is quite easy when you follow the step-by-step cuts shown in Carving the Planes of the Human Face.

Free Lora IRish Cane Carving ProjectTwistie Snake Carving – Wood carving, cane and walking stick carving
Not all of us are blessed to have a backyard wood lot where we can cultivate sassafras trees and honeysuckle vines for twistie stick canes. So in this in-depth tutorial learn how to carve that twisted stick pattern using a bench knife, a few small gouges, and basswood.

Pyrography Doodles – Pyrography and wood burning
If you have the burning desire to try your hand at the zen doodle craze or modern tribal tattoo look, you will want to read through this step-by-step wood burning project that uses textures, line designs, and fill patterns to create the finished mushroom design.


Irish_pixie_13Pyrography Steps to Portrait Burning – Wood burning and pyrography
Learn how to create realistic shadows and highlights in the human face in your next wood burning project.

Cougar Pyrography Project – Wood burning and pyrography
Learn how to create the fine fur in an animal portrait that incorporates realistic shading and shape to the animal’s face.



Pyrography Mask Project by IrishCeremonial Mask Pyrography – Pyrography and wood burning
This step-by-step project uses lots and lots of photos to guide you through an in-depth design created for first-time wood burners.

Pyrography Leather Burning – Leather burning and leather pyrography
Want to try your hand at leather burning? Then this tutorial is just what you are looking for. Includes not only the step-by-step photo instructions but also includes the binding steps for making your own leather artist journal.

wood carving a wooden spoonCross-Crafting Seminar Introduction – Step by Step Instructions for your first wooden spoon carving from scroll saw cutting to adding the oil finish



Leather Burned Jewelry, Project One – Discover how much fun wppd burning leather scraps into wire-wrapped jewelry can be.



Posted on Other Message Boards or Forums

Please note that the following free L S Irish seminars and in-depth projects were posted by me, and hosted on other forums  – Wood Carving Illustrated Message Board,, Woodcarvers Gazette, Forum, WOM – Woodcarver Online Magazine.

Please note that you will need to sign-up as a member of these forums to have access to the photos included in each of the tutorials.

If you have questions about these projects please contact me directly, here at or on my Facebook account, as I can not reply to you on this forum. If you do reply of any of these free tutorial, it will bring these threads to the front of the message board where other members may answer you.

freen man relief carving by Lora IrishRelief Carving Wood Spirit Grape Man WIP – Over 250 detailed, close-up photos with step-by-step instructions of relief carving the wood spirit, green man face. This thread has had over 69,000 views!

Levels in Relief – Learn how to break you carving pattern into levels for easy carving. This project will teach you how to identify the sky, background, mid-ground, and foreground of any design.

Burning your carvings – Pyrography can be an important technique for your wood carving. So learn how to use your wood burner to clean-up fine wood fibers, add detailing, and even add fine shaping to your next wood carving project.

African Mask Low Relief Carving – The African Mask project focuses on how to establish the levels of a relief wood carving during the rough-out stage of work.

Irish Pyrography Seminar – This in-depth pyrography project shows over 250 detailed, close-up photos, step-by-step instructions, and in-depth explanations of texturing, shadings, and fine line work used to create the Advertising Barn landscape.

Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool – Looking for that first wood burning tool, then take a few moments and read through this tutorial for an in-depth review of the Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool used to wood burn a Toucan Family.

Winter Birdhouse Wood Burning Tutorial – This in-depth, step-by-step project focuses on a winter bird house wood burning scene. The project takes you from the initial tracing of the design to the final coloring steps.

Leather Burned Jewelry

Leather Burned Jewelry

Leather Burned Jewelry Gallery of Ideas

Leather Burned Jewelry, Day One
Leather Burned Jewelry, Day Two
Leather Burned Jewelry, Day Three

pyrography on leatherRoaring Twenties

5” X 3” (14 cm x 7.5 cm) vegetable-tanned leather
2 – 6” lengths of copper chain for necklace
1 – 5” length of copper chain for top hanging chain
1 – 7” length of copper chain for middle hanging chain
1 – 4” length of copper chain for beaded chain
4 – 6 mm round adventurite beads
2 – 6 mm split rings
1 – lobster claw latch
18” – 20-gauge or 18-gauge copper wire

Using your loop-tip, or ball-tip, burn thin, straight lines onto the leather shape.
Begin the lines at the top edge of the leather and pull the lines to the center area of the leather. Work several layers of burned lines, beginning on a medium heat setting and working towards a hot temperature setting.
Use a v-gouge to cut vertical lines in the leather, creating white lines through the burned areas.


wood burning leatherNavajo Nation

1 – 5 1/2” x 3 1/2” (14 cm x 9 cm) medium weight, vegetable-tanned leather
1 – 5 1/2” x 4” (14 cm x 10.25 cm) medium weight, dark brown scrap leather
2 – 7 1/2” (19 cm) lengths of copper chain
18” length of 20- or 18-gauge copper wire
2 – 8 mm turquoise glass crow roller beads
2 – 6 mm split rings1 – lobster claw latch

Trace the pattern to your vegetable-dyed leather. Using a loop-tip or ball-tip burning pen, fill in each area with a medium temperature burn. Increase the temperature setting slightly and burn a second layer of strokes to the top half of each area. Increase the temperature again to a hot setting and following the photo burn in the black-toned areas of the design. The round end loop of the turquoise glass bead link is worked through both layers of leather.


wood burning leatherForever Yours

1 – 5 1/2” x 3” (14 cm x 7.5 cm) medium weight, vegetable-tanned leather
2 – 10 mm copper jump rings
2 – 6 mm copper split rings
2 – 7” (17.75 mm) lengths of copper chain
1 – lobster claw latch

Trace your pattern to the vegetable-tanned leather. With your pyrography unit set on a medium temperature setting, using a ball-tip or shader-tip pen, begin filling the areas of the pattern outside of the heart design with a medium-light tonal value. Use any fill or texture pattern that you like.
Work a second layer of burning on a slightly hotter temperature setting at the center point of the leather necklace and in the outer half of each side. A third burning at a still slightly hotter setting is worked in the outer one-third of each side of the necklace.


leather burned jewelrySummer Dreams

5 1/2” x 3 1/2” (14 cm x 9 cm ) medium weight vegetable-tanned leather
2 – 8 mm square glass beads
2 – 7” ( 18 cm ) long copper chain
2 – 6 mm split rings1 – lobster claw latch
18” – 20-gauge or 18-gauge copper wire

You can add color to your leather burned jewelry by using artist quality colored pencils. Begin this project by tracing your pattern to the cut leather. With your finest line pen, outline the entire pattern to a dark tonal value. Add shading in the petals and leaves using your shader-tip on a medium hot setting. Work the background in a solid dark tone.
When the burning is complete begin adding your color in thin, light layers of pencil work. Use one color over another to create new hues. When the burning is complete begin adding your color in thin, light layers of pencil work. Use one color over another to create new hues. When the coloring is complete give your necklace one to two coats of brush-on acrylic finish.

leather pyrographySteamed

5 1/2” x 4” (14 cm x 10.25 cm) medium weight vegetable-tanned leather
2 – 7” ( 18 cm ) long copper chain
2 – 6 mm split rings
1 – lobster claw latch
18” – 20-gauge or 18-gauge copper wire
Assorted leather brads and decorative rivets

With a pencil, create a 1/4” grid on the face of your leather necklace. Fill the grid squares in a checkerboard pattern, varying the tonal values. Fill the right side of the necklace squares with this medium setting tonal value to make the larger block areas. With a low temperature fill the unworked squares in the central area with a fill texture. Place a small ceramic plate face-down onto your leather and mark a pencil line. With a craft knife cut along the line, on both sides, to open a groove. Add your decorative brads and rivets.

free Lora S Irish pattern