Pyrography, also commonly referred to as wood burning or pokerwork, is a popular art form involving wooden products.
You must have seen wood burning art on someone’s front door or their furniture. Wood burning is often confused with wood carving because they appear almost the same.
However, the techniques and impacts are very different. Pyrography is a type of pokerwork done with application of controlled heat to wooden items. The result is an engraved design.
The engraved design from wood burning can be differentiated from wood carving by the impact left by it. The process of burning leaves the wood, as we like to call it, “darkened.”
These dark imprints represent burnt areas of the wood. Unless you artificially do so, carving wood doesn’t result in any stains.
The reason why we are compiling all this information for you is because we want to save you from extensive research and help you get on track if you plan on taking wood burning as a new pastime activity!
What Exactly is Wood Burning Art?
Pokerwork is a fun activity to practice if you have enough time on your hands. If you gain expertise in the field, you can even expand your skills professionally, or at least confidently design your own furniture to make it more appealing.
Wood burning, as the name very well speaks for itself, is an art form that involves burning wood with hot metallic, pointed tools to engrave designs in wood.
Therefore pyrography is used to design intricate patterns to make wooden items look more personalized and beautiful.
The science behind wood burning is an absorbing topic, but as far as our concerns are involved, the process allows us to make patterns on it if we’re careful enough.
If you’re a beginner, we prefer that you get yourself a beginner’s kit for wood burning art before jumping into more complex tools.
Why is Wood Burning Popular?
Art forms like wood burning and wood carving have been around for several eras now.
People use it for all different kinds of things: to customize their belongings, to tell one thing apart from the other, to mark their territory, for a fun hobby, and so on.
The art of wood burning gets its popularity from the fact that today it has become way easier than before to practice.
In early times, people used to heat metal rods and then poke it into the wood. With this way, the rod used to cool down really early and hence the process became extensively dragged.
But now, you can just employ a wood burning machine to do all your pokerwork for you without interruption!
The machine is connected to a metallic tool that gets heated up when you plug it in. This way, the metal rod never cools down unless you want to end the job yourself.
Our Favorite Wood Preferences for Wood Burning
In pyrography, it’s important to do your homework before you start your activity because there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration before you can really start burning your wood.
For example, the thickness of the wood should be checked. Some wood types might “curl up” instead of effectively burning on contact with the hot rod if the piece isn’t thick enough.
But the most burning (pun intended) question that is raised is: What wood is the best for wood burning art?
We’re here to answer this query for you. Below we’ve listed the most popular woods used for pokerwork due to their great qualities that make wood burning easy, fun, and safe!
It is soft because the amount of grains present is completely negligible and therefore easy to work on. The light color also makes it beautiful. Basswood is clean with a very fine texture.
It is very similar to basswood with regards to its qualities: it’s fine, beautiful, and soft. So it burns cleanly.
Maple is a pretty expensive wood to work on, but also one of the best.
Maple has a hard surface, which means that burning needs to be done at high temperatures. But because of its smooth grains, it’s still highly recommended for pokerwork.
It’s the same as maple, but it’s more economical to purchase. It has a slightly softer surface though, which makes it pretty good for burning.
Surprisingly, it’s even cheaper than poplar. With its smooth grain that gives clean burning patterns, it’s a great option to consider when it comes to wood types.
As far as yellow pine is concerned, it has both light and dark grains.
Of course as the general patterns show, lighter grains are easier to work with. So, this wood gives you both an easy and hard time, depending on what you are doing.
This also means that white pine is the better option to go with.
Mahogany is durable and sort of hard, but wood burning can be done on it. However the dark color of the wood might overshadow your patterns.
Balsa wood is one of the strongest woods out there, but it has a soft surface which makes the wood burning art easy to practice on it. It also has a clean, beautiful color.
White oak is simply great for wood burning. It has all three characteristics that are attractive: minimum and smooth grains, a soft surface, and durability. These factors together make it a good wood for pyrography.
However, red oak is hard enough to be uncomfortable working with, so our preference is white oak specifically.
Jelutong wood is soft as well as durable. These two qualities make it a good option for almost all sorts of woodwork. So, if you’re planning on using the same piece of wood for a number of activities, this is your best choice.
Further Notes on Wood Types
We brought these recommendations to you after prolonged research, so it’s fair to say that this is all you need to know about the right wood types for pyrography.
However, keep in mind that wood types are also affected by personal preferences.
Someone might want a light colored wood to work on, so they can showcase their skills clearly. While someone else might want a darker wood to go with so that it can match their room’s theme.
But as the normal patterns suggest, lighter woods with lighter grains are softer and easier to burn, thus giving you smooth and clean results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Wood Burning Look Engraved?
It appears as “pokes” in the wood, hence getting the name of pokerwork.
To differentiate it from wood carving, you can observe the color of wood on the finished product.
Carving leaves no stains, whereas pyrography leaves dark stains.
Is Wood Burning Easier than Wood Carving?
There can’t be a definite answer to this question.
It all depends on your learning ability, skill and practice. Someone might be better at one of these than the other, without any real criteria for this difference.
If you want to take up wood burning, the best way to get a hand on it is by consistent and long practice.
You can even gain expertise in both and make a product using both skills combined!
Wood burning involves a number of safety concerns because it is done with the help of hot pointy metal rods, and also can cause a number of actions that are generally harmful for us.
Putting you safety on top, below we are listing all the precautionary measures that you should be taking before practicing pyrography.
Supervise Your Tools at All Times
Although you’re probably well aware of this, wood burning tools are extremely hot!
It’s so very important to keep a track of every small action you take while dealing with wood burning tools. You need to make every movement after considerate planning and need to be aware of what part of the tool you’re holding.
You need to be very clear headed to be using these tools. You need to know everything from the position of tool to the temperature at all times.
We even recommend wearing inflammable gloves while working so you don’t end up burning your skin, even by accident.
Even if you’re going away for two seconds, you should not leave the tool plugged in.
Especially with kids at home, keep the rods at places your kids can’t reach. They could try messing up with the machine and you definitely don’t want that.
Wear a Mask
The mask prevents harmful sawdust and smoke from entering your lungs.
A lot of the time, sanding and gritting the surface of wood is almost essential. Aggressive sanding results in the release of sawdust, which you don’t want to inhale!
This is true for all wood related activities, but wood burning involves another potential threat too: inhalation of smoke.
Of course, when wood is burnt, smoke occurs. Inhaling smoke can cause a number of health issues, but wearing a mask offers significant protection.
Try Burning Outdoors
To avoid inhalation of both sawdust and released smoke, you can also choose to do your pokerwork outdoors.
This is because in closed spaces, it is easier to be exposed to both of these circumstances.
But if you’re doing your work in open areas, the smoke as well as sawdust will likely blow away itself.
It is also better to be outdoors because this way you’ll be saved from any burning mishaps inside of your home.
Keep Flammable Items as Far Away as Possible
While you work on your product, remember to be dressed appropriately and keep your space clutterfree.
Keep all flammable products away from yourself and the tools, like perfumes, paints, and oils.
Also wear an outfit that isn’t prone to getting tangled in wires. You really don’t want any sort of accident!
Notice Your Health Patterns
If you feel any sort of irritation or burning sensation in your eyes, nose, throat or even skin, abandon work and seek medical attention!
There can be a number of reasons for these symptoms to show up, so it’s wrong to generalise them. The best way to deal with the slightest representation of these symptoms is to talk to a medical professional.
In any case, don’t ignore your health patterns, even if you think they’re negligible.
Prefer Using Raw and Natural Wood
It’s really important to know that not all man-made woods can be burnt. However, this isn’t true for natural woods.
Some of the man-made woods are highly toxic and thus burning them releases chemicals that are extremely dangerous, even if inhaled in the tiniest amount.
For the same reason, it’s also not recommended to use wood that has been painted over, stained, polished, and so on. Because the chemicals used in all of these products are highly toxic and cannot be inhaled at any cost.
Your protection is our utmost priority, so we hope you abide by all the stated steps.
Wood burning is a very absorbing hobby that many would like to take. If you’re also an admirer of this work and want to begin your poking soon, this article was the perfect choice for you.
Through this article, our basic purpose was to find you all the woods that are commonly used for wood burning art and should totally be employed by you to showcase your true skills.
Your preferences can differ from ours, so you’re free to explore more. But for a beginner, these are the best woods to work on. They’re all durable and strong, yet soft and have minimum grains. Together with these qualities, they become the best wood types to work on if you’re going to be practicing wood burning art.
With that note, we hope your beginner’s wood burning art experience goes as intended and that you continue practising it!