Wood Engraving & Burning

Updated November 21, 2016

Wood engraving and burning are processes in which designs are burnt into the surface of a block of wood. Designs can range from simple to complex and usually evolve as a hobbyist becomes more skilled.


Wood engraving began in the 1800s, according to the Artistic Custom Engraving website. As wood burners were developed, hand engraving gave way to the wood burning technique.


To burn wood, a person needs a wood burner, a burning tip and wood. Some hobbyists use carbon paper to transfer sketched designs onto the wood.


Typically, a person begins wood burning by drawing a design. Some artists sketch the design directly onto the wood. Others draw designs on carbon paper and then transfer it to the wood. Others just freehand draw the design. Once the design is decided, the artist burns it into the wood by drawing it out with a wood burner and an appropriately sized tip.

Art vs. Hobby Work

In the 1900s, wood burning was considered an art form. Today, is more well-respected as a hobby.

Laser Engraving

In addition to drawing designs with a wood burner, design may be created on the computer. A machine is used to carve the designs into the wood with a laser.

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