DIY Thrift Store Makeover | Wood Burned Trash to Treasure

Materials I’m Using:

My $1 Ashtray and the crazy face I’m making. 😛


The first thing I’m going to do for this DIY Thrift Store Makeover is prep the old ashtray for burning. I’m using an electric sander here to remove the old varnish and anything that may be lingering on this ashtray. It was used for smoking, so there’s a good chance there’s some chemical residue remaining. Sanding it down to the raw wood helps remove that unwanted residue and make it safer for burning.


My sander can’t reach down into the cutout, so I’m using a sheet of the sand paper to hand sand it. I can see there’s residue in the crevice and some varnish still hanging on. So I’m going the best I can to reach down into the edge and clean out as much of the old stuff as possible. 

Even though we are sanding, it’s still important for me to wear my safety gear. I have my mask with vapor filters and a fan nearby that helps pull away the smoke. It’s always better to be safe when burning. 

I’ve also got my finger guards on, which helps protect my fingers from too much heat. 

The Design 

For this project, I don’t have a template or an art plan in mind. I’ve just got a pencil and an artistic explorative notion. Using my pencil, I’m going to sketch a few lines as a guide. The lines will act as a loose blueprint for me to follow as I’m burning.


Like I said, I don’t have a particular plan, I’m going to just start burning and see what happens. One of the best things about these DIY Thrift Store Makeovers is that I can make this piece into what ever I want. I can use my wood burning tool to create a fresh piece. 

There are endless wood burning design options. I could burn a quote, an image, or just a new pattern into the wood to freshen it up.


Burning the Wood

The Inside My lines are drawn and I’m ready to get started. I have my Colwood Super Pro setup with a straight edge tip. This particular tip will make burning straight lines much easier. I think this wood is oak, and oak can be tricky to burn. There are hard grans and soft grains, so that means my lines are prone to a bumpy look as my tip moves across the wood. The straight edge will help minimize that as it cuts straight into the wood. 


I’m going to start burning these lines and just see where the design takes me. As I burn, there’s parts of this design I’m not loving, so I’m going to burn over what I’ve created and fill in more of the wood. 


The triangle open patterns have a nice wedge shape, so I’m going to fill those in with a pattern. Now it kind of looks like a pizza, so I’m also going to fill in the raw lines that remain. I use a straight line pattern that goes in the opposite direction so there a noticeable difference in the textures. 

The Outer Edge

I want to follow along the circular shape that’s already in place. Using my pencil, I quickly sketch a circle on the outer edge for me to use a guide for burning.

My burner still has a straight edge tip loaded, so I’m going to burn this circle with a single burn line.

Once the circle is done, I’m going to start burning over these lines I sketched. And now and look is coming together!

I’ve decided to burn every other space here, making a sunburst pattern. I added a little dot in each space to remind me which space to burn. Now I’m just burning lines in each section all the way around the edge.
The burn is all done! Now to the staining.


Weathered Gray Stain

I love this stain. It gives the wood a great rustic farmhouse look while still leaving the wood grain showing. 

When I first add the stain, it covers my wood burn. The first time I used this stain, I flipped out thinking I had ruined my piece. I used a cloth to wipe off the excess and I was relieved that it came off of my burn. You can see that the gray stains the wood, and only covers my burn a little bit. The overall look has a nice farmhouse style.


Butcher Block Conditioner

Butcher Block Conditioner is a great way to finish this DIY Thrift Store Makeover. I’m going to use this piece as a jewelry holder on my bedside table. 

I’m bad about forgetting to take out my earrings, so this will be the perfect place to toss my earrings at night and not worry about them falling off the table.

Since this little piece will hold my jewelry, I want it to have a safe varnish. The butcher block conditioner is used for coating cutting boards, so it makes me feel better to use a food grade product.


It’s really easy to apply. My clean shop cloth is nearby, I squeezed out a generous amount onto the piece and use the cloth to distribute it evenly and then I let it dry.

All Done!! Now I’ve got a new addition to my bedside table. I paid $1 for this piece and I was able to have some fun repurposing it.


Watch The Video!


This FREE (and highly detailed) digital packet is overflowing with information for getting started in pyrography.

  • 14 tools supply list – the best tools in pyrography
  • 5 pyrography patterns to use in burning
  • 2 step-by-step pyro projects with templates

I put together a digital download packet that highlights wood burning tools and projects perfect for pyro beginners.

“what burner should I use?”

“what’s the best wood to burn?”

“what are my safety options?”

“where can I get these tools?”

“where can I get pyrography patterns?”

“what should I burn?”


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