n recent years, creative minds have rediscovered the old tradition of branding, and given this hobby a unique revival. Of course, pyrography is so popular because it allows you to easily create and individualize many magical items made of wood, cork or leather.
In addition, minimal and very affordable equipment is needed for pyrography in order to be able to perform this craft at a high level. The most important tool that will need to be newly purchased is a wood burning tool. All other necessary materials and tools are usually already available in a well-stocked household.
Table of Content
- 1 What is a Wood Burning Tool?
- 2 What Can a Pyrography Pen Do?
- 3 Pyrography Tools Buying Guide
- 4 Pyrography Accessories
- 5 Top Pyrography Brands
- 6 Tips and Tricks
- 7 Safety Instructions for Pyrography
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Other Suitable Materials
What is a Wood Burning Tool?
A pyrography pen, or wood-burning tool, is similar to a soldering iron. The applied current heats up the metal head attached to the pyrography pen, which is then used to carry out the work of painting into a surface.
Wood burning tools are available in many different designs. The cheapest models are priced around $12. These are certainly suitable for beginners, but they will quickly reach their limits. Good entry-level models, which have no restrictions and offer a wider range of applications, are priced at around $60. These models are fun for beginners and advanced users alike. The best wood burning tools can easily cost up to $360. As much as the price variance is, the differences between the individual models are limited to 2 essential criteria:
- First, pyrography pens differ in the design of the exchangeable metal tips. These can be designed as a burning loop or as a shaped tip.
- Burning loops are fine wires that are bent into different shapes. There are round, pointed, and flat burn loops. Burning loops glide very easily over the wood, but their use requires a little more practice because the burning depends not only on the burning loop itself but also on the hand position. The results are more precise and you can work much more variably.
- Molded tips, on the other hand, are whole metal heads of various shapes, similar to the bits of a screwdriver. They are rather uncomplicated in handling, but unfortunately, they are not suitable for very fine details.
The second difference is the possibility and way of controlling the temperature:
- Very cheap models have no temperature control. They are connected directly to the power supply and operate at a fixed working temperature. This version of wood burning pens have very limited use.
- Recommended entry-level models for pyrography have temperature controls. However, here too, a distinction is made between two types of operation. The simpler form is connected directly to the power supply, while there is has a rotary wheel on the professional pyrography tools for temperature control. These are the so-called pyrography pens. In most cases, they are equipped with mold tips.
- The third type of wood burning pen is connected to a transformer. This is then responsible for temperature control. These pyrography pens are also called wood burning stations. Wood burning stations are usually operated with burn loops.
- The decisive difference between a wood burning station and a temperature controllable pyrography pen is the maximum achievable working temperature. A wood burning station usually covers a wider temperature range than a pyrography pen, and can therefore be used with greater flexibility.
- In terms of price, the non-temperature-adjustable pyrography pen is the cheapest optionl, but with a very limited range of use. Wood burning stations and pyrography pens only have minimal price differences.
What Can a Pyrography Pen Do?
- The best known and most popular medium used for pyrography is wood. It can be used to apply lettering, decorations, and even whole pictures with a wood burning pen.
- Cork, leather, and horn are also suitable for decorative pyrography.
- Often, wood burning is also used to give carvings a special look. A carved bird with branded feathers looks almost lifelike.
Pyrography Tools Buying Guide
As mentioned above, there are many different designs and price categories of pyrography pens. Below you will find everything you need to know when buying looking for the best wood burning tools.
What to Look Out For When Buying a Wood Burning Pen?
Wood burner tools are available in a wide range of price categories. From $12 up to nearly $400, there is a suitable model for every budget. We recommend that anyone who wants to start the hobby of wood burning art asks themself the question – which criteria really have to be considered to make the difference in price.
For the pyrography, you only need a small amount of equipment. Basically just a suitable pen with different attachments. As the initial costs are manageable, quality and safety should be the main criteria for the purchase and not the price.
For example, thin, fragile-looking plastic parts and metal tips that can be bent are exclusion criteria for the purchase of a wood burning pen. They could cause injury and lead to unusable results.
The handle should fit well in the hand and be sufficiently insulated. If the handle becomes very hot even after a short period of use, you should keep your fingers off this model. Additional safety is provided by a wide edge at the bottom of the handle. This helps to prevent accidental slipping.
Integrated overheating protection is always a good sign of safety for electrical devices. Just like the CE mark, which should be present on every electrical device.
Very good advice, and the advantage of being able to try out the pyrography device, can be found in specialist shops. If you are already well informed or are sure which product you want to choose, the large online marketplaces are great places to shop.
For Beginners: WOODLAND HOME Complete Wood Burning Kit
This complete set by Woodland Home includes everything that any new pyrography artist will need for getting started. This set is conveniently packaged into a neat hardcase with a foam lining. Each component has its place – something that helps you from losing the small parts.
The kit includes a wood burning pen, 1 range of 27 different pyrography drawing tips, stamping patterns, a lettering stencil, and a safe holding stand for the pen. This means that you can just open up your kit, and get started straight away on making all kinds of different creations.
The wood burning pen has an easy to use temperature control dial. This makes it suitable for use on many different surfaces and types of wood. The rubber handle is completely heat and impact resistant – making it a safe product to use over extended periods of time.
While the pen itself may not be the most advanced, it still offers an excellent range of burning temperatures all in a quality build. For anyone starting out with pyrography, this would be an excellent set to buy.
The Woodland Home wood burning kit offers a good price-performance ratio and is a highly recommended product for beginners who attach importance to obtaining all of the necessary equipment. This starter kit allows you to let your creativity run wild over many different surfaces and styles of pyrography.
Our Recommendation: TOPOLEK Wood Burning Tool
This quality pyrography kit from Topolek is an excellent choice for beginners all the way through to advanced artists. The wood burning tool includes a powerful pyrography pen, four different wire tips, and an easy to control wood burning station.
The wood burning station has a temperature control knob, which offers a range between 842 to 1382 degrees Fahrenheit. This offers plenty of versatility in terms of the different kinds of woods and surfaces that you can burn into. The kit is also very efficient at heating up, and safe to control with its premium heat-resistant handle.
Not only is this wood burning station a superior product in terms of its quality and performance, but it also looks great! No matter how experienced you are with wood burning art, the Topolek wood burning tool would be a smart choice.
Not only is this a high quality wood burning station, but it also looks great. This model by Topolek is suitable for a wide ranmge of applications, and can be enjoyed by pyrographers of all skill levels.
Professional Choice: VIIART Complete Professional Pyrography Tool Kit
This professional pyrography set includes a powerful pen and wood burning station to produce a high standard of art. Included is a quality wood burner pen, 20 different wire tips, a temperature controllable wood burning station, and a superior pen holder.
The pyrography kit includes a digital temperature display screen and can be switched between a wide range of temperatures. This makes it a suitable product for use with various different types of woods and burning mediums.
The pen itself has an excellent rubber safety handle that is suitable for prolonged use without overheating. The choice pf 20 different tips will allow you to create plenty of versatile art. The station also has double ports, so that two pyrography pens can be used through it.
The wood burning station by Viiart is a smart choice for enthusiastic pyrographers. This is a top-quality set that accomodates wood burning art across all kinds of surfaces. The components are durable, and the burn pen works with great efficiency.
To do the hobby of wood burning, you mainly need the special pen and various burn loops or form points. With so many manufacturers, there are also special form stamps. These illustrate a small design or already finished letters that only need to be stamped on. Beyond that, only little additional equipment is necessary. Most of it is often already available in the household.
- So you need sandpaper to prepare the body of the work properly for the wood burning. On fine sanded wood it is much easier to burn in designs.
- For the necessary preliminary drawings, a pencil and an eraser are useful. Designs can also be transferred from a printed template to the material using carbon paper.
- To make lettering uniform, lettering stencils are available from specialist dealers. These are used like normal templates and the shape is traced with a pencil.
- If the works of art are to be made weather-resistant, a lacquer coating is recommended. If you like it more natural, you can use simple olive oil or linseed oil.
Top Pyrography Brands
There are many different brands out there that produce all kinds of quality wood burning stations and tools. As this hobby increases in popularity, so does the amount of products and brands out there. It is therefore important to make sure that you choose a reliable and quality brand when buying your tools.
One of the most reputable pyrography brands in Brenn Peter – a proudly German brand. Although their products are often the first choice for professionals, they can be difficult to acquire outside of Germany. Not to worry though! There are plenty of other great options available in the US.
Topolek is an excellent brand here, and you will find its quality wood burning machine kit in any good pyrography reviews. As outlined above, this kit offers everything that any beginner or experienced pyrographer would require.
Viiart produces high-quality pyrography tools for anyone serious about this art form. Then there is Woodland Home – a popular choice for beginners looking for quality at a good price. While these are some of the tiop brands out there, there are plenty of others available in specialist shops and online marketplaces.
Tips and Tricks
Optimum Temperature for the Wood Burner Pen
Wood burner tools which are not temperature adjustable usually work with temperatures around 842°F. With this temperature, you can work very well on softwood and chipboard.
Hardwoods, on the other hand, require temperatures far above 842°F. The harder the wood, the higher the temperature the point must be to achieve a good result. On oak, for example, temperatures of up to 1832°F can quickly become necessary to engrave clear burn marks. Only a few wood burning tools reach this temperature range, therefore not every pyrography tool is suitable for working on hardwoods.
Cleaning the Tips of the Wood Burning Pen
During the combustion of material, carbon is produced at the combustion loop or mold tip. This, and deposits of any other kind, change the thermal conductivity at this point. This is noticeable by the fact that your pyrography pen attachment no longer produces the same results.
In the first step, you can turn the burning loop by a few degrees and thus work with a part that is not yet dirty. At some point, however, the tip has to be cleaned. It is advisable not to wait too long so that the deposits do not sit too thick and firmly on the tip.
The deposits can be easily removed with fine-grained sandpaper. However, the grit should be selected so fine that definitely no damage is caused to the tip. The best choice is 1500 or 2000 grit. In addition, the sanding must be carried out very carefully.
The cleaning by means of abrasive paste is very time consuming, but it is also the most gentle method. Coarse deposits are treated with a grinding paste, finer dirt is removed with a polishing paste.
So-called cleaning brushes are included in many pyrography pen sets. The small wire brushes are used to gently clean the metal tips. Also here you should work carefully and gently to prevent unnecessary wear and tear or damage.
It is not advisable to remove the deposit with a knife. Scraping has the danger of scratching too deeply into the tip and thus rendering it unusable.
Safety Instructions for Pyrography
- Wood burning is done with temperatures of up to 1832°F. This naturally involves the risk of burning and fire. Therefore, you should always work concentrated and attentive. The hand holding the workpiece must be far enough away from the pyrography pen. Any slipping of the leading hand must be avoided.
- Never touch the mold tip or the firing loop with your bare finger when the unit is connected to the power supply. Severe burns may result. In order to change the hot air bulb attachment, it must first have cooled down well.
- If the burning piston must be removed, this should be done in a safe place on a fireproof base. The safest place is on a special fireproof stand, which is often supplied directly with the pyrography tool.
- The fire-painting flask must never be left unattended on the power supply. This is a serious fire hazard!
- Smoke is produced when the material is burned. If it still contains residues of chemicals, fungi or resins, it can be harmful to health. In order to protect your lungs from damage, you should always wear a mask and safety goggles. It is also advisable to keep the workshop well ventilated. Professionals like to work with extraction systems.
- Plastic and synthetic materials must never be treated with pyrography. Apart from the danger of fire, toxic gases are produced which can lead to serious health problems.
- Children should only practice the hobby of wood burning under supervision. For children under 12 years, the hobby is unsuitable!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does a Pyrography Tool Work?
A wood burning pen works similar to a soldering iron. A metal tip is heated by electricity. This hot metal tip is then used to burn the surface of a suitable material. The dark burn marks thus produced produce the desired design.
What is Pyrography?
Pyrography is the technical term for wood burning. The word comes from the Greek. “Pyros” which means fire and “graphos” stands for writing. Pyrography is therefore literally translated as “fire writing”.
Which Attachment Should I Use With the Wood Burning Tool?
With the choice of the pyrography pen, you also decide on the shape of the attachment. Wood burning stations are often operated with firing loops. Firing pins rather, with shaped tips.
- Both types of metal attachments are available in a variety of designs to achieve different effects
- Round tips or bows are the all-rounders among the attachments – you can design almost anything with them.
- Thin or pointed attachments are used to work on contours and fine details.
- Wide, flattened flame-cutters or shaped tips are used for shading and the machining of larger surfaces
- In general, mold tips are easier to handle. Flame grinding on the other hand is more precise in the result.
- In the end, it remains a matter of taste in which type of attachment is chosen.
Which Wood Can be Used With the Pyrography Tool?
Soft, light-colored wood with as little grain as possible is perfectly suited for pokerwork. Shades and details can be worked out better on light wood. The dark burn marks are shown to their best advantage and it is possible to work at lower temperatures. Poplar, beech, and lime woods are ideal.
In principle, dark, hardwood with a grain can also be decorated with a soldering iron. However, the processing requires higher temperatures, which not every fire-painting pen can reach. This also requires some practice in order to let the burn marks come into effect without burning the wood too deeply.
No matter which wood you choose, you should always sand it well before you start with the wood burning. It is much easier to work on smooth wood because the burn loops or form points can slide over it more easily and do not get stuck so quickly.
Unevenness quickly leads to blurred lines, breaks or dark holes in the branded contours and shades.
Other Suitable Materials
Wood is the classic material for pyrography. Almost every object made of wood can be embellished with pyrography. Beyond that, however, it is possible to work on many other materials with this technique. For these, however, you need a little practice. Leather, cork and horn are other materials on which skilled pyrographers produce the most beautiful works of art.
But also burning into canvas or paper is possible but requires a lot of practice and experience.
It is important to adjust the working temperature of the pyrography pen correctly to the material to be worked on. Especially temperatures that are too high can cause fire accidents, such as holes or excessive burns in the material, which cannot be repaired.
Therefore, no matter which material is used, it is better to start with a low temperature and work in several successive steps until the desired intensity of the burn marks is reached!
We hope that you have been able to answer most of your questions on the subject of wood burning tools, and are now well prepared for the start into the exciting hobby of pyrography.