Hobby Dabbling: Wood Burning

DSCF0360 There are three things you need to know about me before I go any further.

1. Creative energy has the tendency to build up inside of me until it gets to the point where I feel extremely jittery and uneasy until I MAKE SOMETHING… Anything!

2. I’m the type of person who, when I get an idea or see something I think would be fun, I need to do it right away and put a lot of effort into accomplishing that task. For example, the first time I felt the need to sew a dress, I sewed for 18 hours only stopping to piddle and sleep.

3. I’m also the type of person who gets bored of activities pretty easily (unless I really, really, enjoy doing it), and need to move on to the next one.

You may understand now why I have self-dubbed myself as a “hobby dabbler”. I often try different hobbies out and thought I would share some of them with you, my lovely readers! I don’t usually move on to the next hobby because I didn’t enjoy it, I just know that there are so many awesome hobbies out there and I want to try out as many as possible in my lifetime!

All that being said, I think I’m going to turn this into a wee series..I’ll do a bit of a review of the hobby (how to do it, the difficulty level, whether I would recommend it, etc.) and hopefully it’ll give someone out there a new idea of how to expend that pent up creative energy that lurks within us all! Without further ado, here’s my profile of one of my personal favourite hobbies, wood burning!


Wood burning, or pyrography if you want to be technical, is essentially decorating a piece of wood by applying a hot object until it burns. It has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years and I can certainly see why; it’s pretty dang beautiful! Obviously, over the past century or so with the harnessing of electricity, there have been tools invented that make wood burning fairly simple. I got the tool I use from Michaels (you can get one at any craft store) for around $15. This is what it looks like:

You can also find pieces of fancy wood to burn at craft stores, although you can get the wood from pretty much anywhere! For example, my grandpa was kind enough to cut me some beautiful pieces from trees on his farm. Those two things, a wood burning tool and wood, are all you need! So..not only does this produce fantastic and unique pieces of art work but it’s CHEAP! I know, you can’t get much better than that.


Alright, now I’ll show you how it works. People who are actually artists can do some pretty amazing stuff with this tool. I, however, am the furthest thing from an artist, at least in the area of fine arts. So I keep it simple and stick with letters and simple pictures that I just have to fill in. The pictures below are of my grandparents anniversary present.

1. First you have to decide what you want to burn! I decided on some simple words and images that were relevant to my grandparents anniversary. I printed out these words and images and cut them out of the paper.

2. Using this as a template, I traced the words and pictures onto the wood. **NOTE: If you don’t get your wood from a craft store, you may need to sand it first. The smoother it is, the easier the next steps will be.   DSC_0259 3. Then I plugged in my tool and started burning. Basically you hold the tool like a pen and colour in the letters! It sounds simple because it is. The only trouble you should run into is if your wood surface isn’t completely smooth, then the tool might leave some narsty scratchy marks..but it’s hardly noticeable in the grand scheme of things! DSC_0262 4. This step is completely optional. I put several coats of a very light coloured varnish on this. A lot of people like to stain their pieces all sorts of different shades. It gives it  a finished look and definitely acts as a bit of protection and allows the piece to last for many years to come!


Easy! Simple! Elementary! Painless! A monkey could do it! Well…maybe not that last one. But, depending on the complexity of the design you want to do, this is definitely a good one for every one to try. Perhaps not young kids, I would say 10 and up, as the tip of the tool does need to get VERY hot to do any damage.


-It can get a little smoky sometimes! Not so much that you can’t do it inside, but it does irritate my eyes from time to time and can certainly stink up a room. I would recommend having a fan going and wearing glasses or sunglasses if you’re going to do it inside!

-Again, the tip of the tool does get very, very, very, very, very hot. Some common sense is needed as with all things that are hot.

– These make FANTASTIC and unique gifts for that person who has everything!

– Depending on the hardness and roughness of the wood you use, the sanding process could take some effort. I found that just using sandpaper didn’t cut it for this wood and I needed to use an electric hand sander. Don’t skimp out on this step though because, like I said before, the smoother it is, the smoother the burning goes.

And that’s all, folks! I hope I enlightened you a little about this little known hobby. I think it seems a lot more intimidating than it actually is.. I mean really, it’s called pyrography… so hopefully you’ve seen its tame side through this post. If you’ve ever tried this, have any questions, or just general thoughts on wood burning, make sure to leave a comment below! Also, like this post if you want more hobby dabbling posts!

Thanks for stopping by, it’s been lovely.



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