Wood Burning the American Hero

9-11 Fireman Pyrography Project

by L S Irish

This pattern was worked soon after 9-11 and is also offered as a free online wood carving project.  Our American Hero fire fighter is ready for you to add your local fire department letters and numbers. This project is worked with a one temperature wood burning tool with interchangeable brass tips.


one temperature wood burning tool
standard writing tip
oval 9″ x 12″, 3/4″ basswood plaque
tracing paper
soft #2 pencil
220-grit sand paper


fireman1Step 1

Lightly  sand your basswood plaque using 220-grit sandpaper.  Work the sand paper with the grain of the wood to avoid cross grain scratches from the sanding process.  Wipe the board with a soft, dry cloth to remove the dust.

Make a copy of the pattern.  Rub the back of the pattern paper with a soft #2 pencil, completely coating the pattern areas.  Center the pattern on the face of the plaque and tape into place.  Using an ink pen trace along the pattern lines.  The pencil rubbed graphite of the back of the pattern will leave a line grey tracing line on your board.

fireman-2Step 2

One temperature wood burning tools are designed to reach one temperature setting – hot.  Hot temperatures create dark, black burn lines.  To control the tonal values of your burning using a one-temp tool you can begin burning before the tip reaches its full temperature setting.

Burning soon after you plug in your tool will give you pale tonal value lines.  As you are working the tool tip will continue to heat so move your work into the mid-tone value areas.  With just a bit more time the tool will reach its full setting and you can work the dark tones.

To return to the pale values unplug your one temperature wood burning tool and allow it to cool for about five minutes, then start the process again.  Because of this method of cool starting burns into the dark range burns it is often easiest to work one small area of your project’s pattern at a time, working through all of the tonal values in that area.

fireman-3Step 3

Using textures as fill patterns can also increase the tonal value range of a one temperature wood burning tool project.  Textures do not completely fill one area of the burning; they allow some burned lines and some raw wood within the texture stroke.  Tightly packed textures create dark chocolate coloring, medium packed give a wide range of mid-tones, and fine lines with lots of raw wood establish the light areas of your design.




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