Basswood is a great wood burning wood. It’s very soft and easy to burn, there are practically no grains. It’s a solid surface of soft burning wood and it’s beautiful. It’s so clean and light, so you can burn in wonderfully light or dark details making it one of the best woods to burn. My only gripe with basswood are the size options. I’ve only been able to find basswood in precut plaque sizes or circular sizes with the live edge in hobby stores or online. You can find the planks online, however they are pricey and why buy higher priced planks of basswood when poplar is less expensive and already in the local store? I do use the basswood plaques because they are easier than gluing up, sanding and cutting the poplar. I usually keep a few of these plaques on hand for quick turn around.
Birch burns much like basswood. The grains are consistently soft and you can find this in the big box stores. I like the birch plywood because Clay can just cut out the sizes I need and frame it out to cover the plywood edges. We don’t use it that often mostly because poplar is our go to choice, but it’s always there as an option if we need it. We also like the poplar over birch since it’s a solid piece of wood and not plywood.
Poplar is my absolute favorite and the best wood for wood burning for three reasons: 1. easy to burn, 2. very accessible, 3. customize any size. We use poplar for most of our project. Poplar is readily available at the big box hardware stores at varying sizes and Clay is able to make any size canvas or frame that we need for a customer. The grains are consistently soft throughout the boards which makes an ideal wood burning surface. I’m able to burn in fine details with ease. I should add that it accepts stain evenly and holds true to the stain color. If you are new to wood burning, go buy a smaller board and use it to practice. Poplar is my top recommendation.
Yellow Pine. Pine is a common wood in wood burning. It’s inexpensive and you can find nice and neat pieces at hobby stores cutout into shapes, plaques and designs. Yellow pine is hard for me to burn because the grains are so different. The lighter grain is very soft while the darker grain is hard to burn. So when I’m burning a portrait it’s difficult to get a detailed or consistent pattern. Pine is better for letters or signs that will be burnt solid and not shaded. Yellow pine is my least favorite not one of the best woods for wood burning. It makes a lower quality burn and finished product.
Second – use a fan. A fan should be used when wood burning any type of wood. It isn’t safe for someone to breathe in smoke especially if you are going to be burning for hours. I use a small battery operated fan that is portable and I can place it very close to my burning area and it sucks the smoke right in and away from my face. When I first start burning I wasn’t using one. Clay noticed all of the smoke going right into my eyes and he suggested setting up a little fan. I still use it when I burn and I’ve seen other pyrographers mention that they use a fan as well, so it’s a common practice in pyrography.
Conclusion – Best Woods for Wood Burning
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>> What Burner should I buy?
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>> How do I shade portraits??
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