Today’s Blog and Tutorial is a quick start to finish look at our wood burning process and how to wood burn letters for beginners. I receive a lot of questions about this process, so I like to put these “how to” articles together for wood burning and pyrography. Please leave comments, ask questions or give suggestions for more tutorials.

Clay’s Wood Working

Let’s start with the canvases. Clay builds 95% of our canvases. His wood shop is in our garage and he’ll get creative with the canvases and create something that has a miter art style, patchwork or reclaimed rustic style and I’ll try to find inspiration for a burn that goes with it.

He also creates new pieces for us to experiment with from time to time. We have recently started trying to create picture frames. Clay builds wide edge frames so I can burn in a quote, a family name or an anniversary date.

Once Clay is finished building the frames, he brings them to me for burning.

Creating a Digital File and Template

The first thing I do when I get a new canvas is decide what to burn in it. For these new frames, I like to choose a quote about family or something most people can relate to and would likely go with a picture.

I measure out the amount of burn space in order to create a digital file in photoshop that is the same size as the piece. I’ll open photoshop, start a new file and input my measurements. This is to make sure my lettering size is proportional to the actual frame size.
Now that my photoshop file is set, I’ll print out my lettering. If the size of the file is larger than an 8.5” x 11” sheet, I print out all sections of the file and tape them together to create a template.

Wood Burning Template

Once my template is ready to go, I tape it to the frame and place a sheet of carbon paper underneath. I’ll spend about half an hour copying the letters onto the wood. Copying the letters will help insure the letter sizing, spacing and accuracy. I will occasionally try to freehand letters, but for a finished professional piece I don’t chance it. I want to make sure the finished piece is high quality and something someone would be excited to display in their home.

How to Wood Burn Letters for Beginners

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Let the Burning Letters Begin!

The next step is burning. I choose a tip that fits well in the letters and requires the least amount of strokes. I focus on keeping the letters filled and the lines straight with my burner tip. This amount of lettering takes a while to burn by hand. I like to put on a good pod cast or a movie and let it play while I burn.

Safety Gear for Wood Burning

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Wood Burning Safety Gear

I also make sure I have on my safety gear. I wear a 3M respirator with Vapor Filters, gloves or thermal finger guards and I have two fans that move the smoke. One fan is right next to my burner tip to pull the smoke and another fan is in the window to pull it out of the room.

Adding a Stain and a Finish

The last step is finishing a piece. We may or may not add stain, it just depends on what we think it needs. These frame pieces look great with a darker stain and then we finish it with a spray Matte Polyurethane or a Danish Oil. This step will take a few days. The stain needs to dry and the several coats of poly need to dry in order to ship.
To sum up, we build, burn and finish. Clay and I both love this work and get so excited and grateful when we hear how much people enjoy it.