How to Use Wood Burner Tips

Written by larry simmons
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Wood burning is a decorative technique used in all forms of wood working to create fine details on a wooden surface. Using a heated tip, you burn into the surface of the wood, etching with heat to create the image of your choice. These images can be as general or as detailed as your artistic skills allow, complete with enhancing shadows. Although the results ultimately depend on those artistic skills, choosing and using the proper burner tip can make all the difference in creating a beautiful image.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Assorted burning tips
  • Wood burning pen

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  1. 1

    Select a tip that fits your needs. Choose a fine point tip to create thin detailed lines with a consistent width. Choose a round tip when you need slightly thicker lines, or if you're shading using dots to apply the fill work. Pick a shading tip for when you need to shade large areas of your work. Choose as you would choose a paintbrush, opting for the tip that most closely meets the size and shape of the line you wish to make.

  2. 2

    Attach the tip to the wood burner pen by screwing it into the body of the pen.

  3. 3

    Plug the pen in and select a temperature setting. Most tips burn between 316 and 482 degrees Celsius. Check with the tip instructions for the best temperature to set, as some perform better at lower temperatures while others require a higher temperature to have the selected effect. Wait about three minutes for the end to heat the tip to the desired temperature. Keep the pen and tip on a heavy glazed tile to avoid burning your work surface when not using the items.

  4. 4

    Hold the pen in one hand as you would an ink pen and lightly press the heated tip to the wood surface. The heat of the tip will immediately scorch the wood, creating a brown line that is the basis of your image building. Drag the tip along the surface to draw. Remove the tip from the surface when you complete a line, or when the tip begins to build up a black looking covering on the point.

  5. 5

    Create lines in the wood using the sharp chiselled edge of the tip. Hold the tip perpendicular to the wood to create dots in the wood with the tip point. Tilt the pen on edge and use the side of the tip when you wish to shade areas of your image with the flat of the tip blade.

  6. 6

    Place a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper onto your pen resting tile and drag the tip of the pen across the sandpaper to remove the black carbon build-up from the pen tip. Run the tip across the sandpaper as you would hone a knife edge with the edge flat against the paper rather than head on. The carbon build-up interferes with the width of the lines created with the tip as well as the precision of tip movement across the wood. Removing the carbon restores maximum efficiency.

  7. 7

    Change the tip when you require a different effect on the wood surface. Turn off the pen and set the pen onto the tile to cool completely. Unscrew the tip from the pen and then screw the new tip in its place for use.

  8. 8

    Turn off the pen and unplug the top when finished. Allow the tip to cool and then remove and store where the brass tip won't be damaged by collision with other objects.

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