One Temperature Wood Burning Tools
I will be using a basic beginner’s tool for this tutorial on wood burning. Your burner has an electric cord to provide power to heat the burning tip, a shaft, hand shield, and a brass burning tip.
- The temperature of the burning tip will heat to between 600 and 900 degrees. It will scorch or burn anything that it contacts including your work area and any pattern papers lying near it. Use a heavy glazed tile or plate for resting the tool when it is not in use.
- As you work on your project a carbon residue will build up on the tip’s point. This carbon appears as a blackish covering around the point area. Remove this built up often during burning. Lay fine grit sand paper on your glazed tile and quickly pull the tip across the paper. This will clean the tip plus keep a nice crisp edge to your tool. Carbon residue is the main cause of problems when wood burning.
- With continued use the entire brass tip, see the diagram for the gold toned areas, will begin to darken. Again, as with the carbon residue, clean the brass with fine sand paper to return it to it’s bright finish. The cleaner your tool is the more control over the darkness and width of the stroke you will have.
- Although we are working here with a basic beginner’s tool, my particular wood burner has interchangeable tips. I have used electrical tape to secure a photo film canister to the mid-section of my burner’s power cord. I store my extra tips and a small roll of sand paper in this canister … so when I go looking for the wood burner all of my tips are with the tool.
- Basswood is a favorite burning surface in this craft, however, butternut and sugar pine are just a couple of the other excellent woods that can be used. Because of basswood’s pale creamy color the different tones of shading work done with the burner are more obvious.
- Smooth surfaces give you even straight burning strokes. Rough surfaces can push or drag you tool’s edge away from your pattern line. Take the time to clean up any rough chisel or gouge strokes and, if necessary, sand your carving before you begin work with the burner.
- Avoid using an extension cord with your burner, if possible. If it is necessary use one that is heavy-duty not a light weight cord as you would use to plug in a lamp. The power supply pulled by the wood burner is significant and needs the extra heavy cord.
- Do not change out the tips of your tool until the tip that has been in use is completely cooled. These tips are made from brass, a very soft metal that becomes softer with the high temperatures used in burning. The tips are threaded so that they lock into the shaft area and this threading can become damaged when the tip is hot. Once the threading is bent or warped the tip will not screw down tightly to the shaft causing uneven and uncontrollable lines in your work.
The burning tip has three main areas for creating the burn stroke, the tip’s point, the side, and the blade. The blade, which is the sharp chisel edge of the tip, is the most used section of the tool. This area is used to make lines from extremely fine light colored details to those heavy wide and dark strokes. The tip’s point is fantastic for making dot patterns and textures as wood bark or heavy matted fur as on a Buffalo or Sheep. The side of the tool is the shading area. Laid over from the blade edge the side can create wonderful graduated tones in the scorching of the wood.
The tool, shown right, is a Walnut Hollow One Temperature tool. It is inexpensive, perfect for your first wood burnings and for adding detailing to your wood carvings.