My number one asked question is, “What kind of burner is that and where did you get it?”. I wanted to write a blog about it and answer those questions and others I received about the burner.
First, I would like to say that I’m not being compensated to promote this product in any way. I’m simply explaining my experience and knowledge about this product because I use it daily. I also receive so many questions about it that it’s hard to keep up with and I wanted to inform everyone that asks me these questions in one place and share my wood burning experiences.
Colwood Wood Burner.
The model I use is the SuperPro II. It has two heat settings, Detail and Heavy Duty. The two heat settings allow you to switch between two tips quickly. If you have two wands, you can set up both wands and have them ready to go without changing out a tip. I use both settings quite often and use multiple tips during a project, so it’s handy to have two tips set up.
The Heavy Duty setting seems to get hotter to me, however Colwood doesn’t advertise that the two settings are any different heat wise. So, I can’t confirm that to be a truth. In my experience, the Heavy Duty setting works best at a 6 or 7, while the detail side works great at an 8 or 9.
Replaceable Tips or Fixed Tips?
Colwood wood burner offers a replaceable tip or fixed tip system. The fixed tips and wand are one unit. When you switch these on the burner, you switch the entire wand, not just the tip.
The replaceable tips can be changed out on one wand. You use the Tip Pull and pull out each tip and put in another. Each tip has two prongs that slide into the wand.
Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. The fixed tip system doesn’t require a puller to be changed out, however you have to purchase the whole wand/tip piece for each tip that you want because they don’t separate. If your tip burns out, you’ll have to buy a new one and the cost is higher. A fixed tip wand averages about $18.00. The replaceable tips cost an average of $8.00 and you only need one wand to use it. You can just change them out as you are working on a project or if the tip burns out. However, you have to use a puller to replace these when you are using them. They are far too hot to touch, so a tool is necessary to change them.
Compare the two Systems
I use the replacement tip system. It has more advantages for me and the tip puller is only $5.25. I would rather change out the tip and have a lower cost of replacing my tips if they break or burn out than to buy the fixed tip/wand unit every time. The smaller tips also take up less room when you have ten of them like I do. Once you
start getting a large collection of tips, they can take up a lot of space, particularly if you use the fixed tip/wand units.
I do keep a couple of extra wands handy. They only cost $15.00 and you want to have some back ups in case any thing happens to them. I’ve only had one melt on the inside before (probably because my tip wasn’t seated all the way), but it can happen. So it’s nice to have extra’s handy.
The heat is what intrigued me the most about the Colwood wood burner. I started out using a hobby store burner, which isn’t a bad burner, it just doesn’t get as hot as a Colwood. Hobby store burners take longer to warm up and cool down. It’s also a little cumbersome to sit down anywhere. It comes with a little stand, but the one I had fell over often. Higher heat works better on hard woods and I do burn the oak occassionally. I just got tired of waiting on the hobby burner to warm up and I can be impatient that way.
Hobby Store Wood Burners
The hobby store burners, like the Chandler wood burning tool, are great to start with if you are new to wood burning and pyrography. They are inexpensive and easy to use. It will help you discover if you want to pursue wood burning or not. If you want to do some really detailed work and are really getting into wood burning, upgrade to a professional wood burner. They are expensive, but worth every penny if you burn routinely.
My Colwood wood burner heats up in seconds. I flip the switch and within about 8 – 10 seconds, it’s ready to go. The tips get very, very, VERY hot. It’s so important to use caution with these tips because the heat is so high.
The heat settings have such a wide range, that I’m able to add in lots of small detail on lower heats or really burn into the wood on higher heats. I can also go faster on higher heats if necessary. It depends on the level of detail I’m working as to which heat setting I work on; however, I have no problem finding the perfect setting. The versatility of the tips really helps too.
Colwood Wood Burner Tips
Since I use the replaceable tip system, there are a large variety of tips to use. The variety will give a great range of artistic freedom and versatility. Colwood offers over 40 tip options or you can order tip packages with several tips included. I started with a small tip package and then added new tips later. I only have 10 still, but I add to my collection as time goes by.
The tips I use can add a range of detail. Small details on letters seem to me, to be the hardest thing to burn. I use the RT-Ball 1 tip for small letters, especially letters that have serifs. Serifs are the tiny little feet on the top and bottom of letters and when the print is small, the serifs are even smaller. This tip works great on letters at a lower heat or anything that needs small details.
The RT-S is the tip I use most often. I can use it for shading and straight lines, so it’s really versatile in adding some detail to a piece without having to change the tip.
The RT-GR Rounded Heel is the straight tip I use the most. There are varying sizes of this tip, but I wanted to mention it so I could explain the rounded heel to those unfamiliar with it. The bottom edge is rounded instead of a straight point, which really really helps when burning in a straight line. The round edge keeps the tips from digging and catching in the wood. If the tip catches and digs, it may burn into the wood too much causing a darker spot than desired. The rounded edge makes the pull of the tip on the wood go much smoother.
I could go on and on about the tips. Each tip has its own trait that makes it useful and there are a lot that I haven’t tried yet. Part of it is figuring out how you will use it and how the tip shape can be useful to you, so experiment. The experimentation with any art form is the best part of using a new medium. Try new techniques and try the tips out for yourself and see what you are able to do with each one.
Wood burning is my favorite art form and I get the most enjoyment out it. One of the best parts is learning about the tools that help me burn. The Colwood wood burner has become an essential tool in my wood burning arsenal.
Colwood Wood Burning in Action
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Thanks for Reading!
Written by: Aney Carver
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