Let’s explore how to wood burn letters for beginners. I receive a lot of questions about this process, so we’re going to dive into the best pyrography lettering tips for beginners. Here we go.
Watch the Video
Let’s start with the canvases. You can find a lot of canvases pre-made and cut online. I buy a lot of my wood canvases through amazon or I make my own.
Any wood canvas will work for burning letters. Pick out your favorite wood, get the dimensions and let’s move onto the template.
Creating a Digital File and Template
The first thing I do when I get a new canvas is decide what to burn on it. Check the dimensions of your canvas and prepare for creating a digital file.
This is THE step that makes burning letters so easy. You can burn and font, sign or piece you want by creating the digital file. You can use any software of your choosing that lets you layout words.
I like to use photoshop. When I open a new file, I set the dimensions that match my canvas. That way, my fonts and graphics are to scale of the canvas.
You can also use an online layout software like GIMP. It’s a free software you can download and use for laying out fonts and graphics.
Creative Fabrica is a GREAT place to get fonts and graphics that are already laid out. They offer a monthly subscription, one-time purchase or daily FREE gifts.
Once my digital file is all set, I just print it and get ready to transfer it to the wood and start wood burning letters.
Transferring the Template
Now it’s time to place and trace. Place your printed template on the canvas and tape it down. Center it as best as possible by paying attention to the spacing on all four edges. Try to make sure that each edge has the same amount of space.
After you’ve placed the template, slide a sheet of carbon paper under the template. Use a pencil, pen or transfer stylus to trace the artwork. Try to stay on the lines as much as possible, but it’s not a big deal if you get off the lines. I do it all the time. ;p
I’ll spend about 10 – 30 minutes copying the letters onto the wood. It depends on how large the template is, but it can be time consuming. There are a ton of ways to transfer templates, but this is an easy way to get started burning without a lot of setup. All you need is a printer and some carbon paper.
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.
When you’re learning how to wood burn letters, there’s no shame in using templates. In the beginning, you need to focus on learning how to use the tool, steadying your hands, how hot to burn and so on. The template is just a practice tool for you to use in order to start building a relationship with the heat and the wood. Don’t worry about being about being able to freehand burn perfection yet. We’ll talk about that later with a few tips for freehanding.
The next step is burning. I choose a tip that fits well in the letters and helps burn nice crisp, clean lines. I focus on keeping the letters filled and the lines straight with my burner tip.
Safety Gear for Wood Burning
Safety gear for wood burning is important. I wear a 3M respirator with Vapor Filters, and 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.
BE SAFE! Here’s a great wood burning safety video to watch.
Wood Burning Letters
Choose the right tips and outline your letters first. I like to use a combination of a round tip and a skew tip. The round tip is great for hitting the curves and the skew tips is great for the straight lines.
It takes a steady hand, patience and time to get nice crisp lines. Turn your heat down, go slow and pay attention to burning clean lines. You may have to go over them a few times to burn out any bumps.
Filling in with Texture
Now that you’re done outlining, start filling in your letters with texture. This is a great place to experiment with texture. I like to take my round tips and add straight line texture, stipples and swirls.
Adding texture is a great way to add visual appeal to the burn instead of filling in with a flat burn.
All done! You’ve officially learned how to wood burn letters for beginners. The template and the tips are the biggest parts to this craft. Using a good wood choice and a steady hand helps, but using templates and good tips will help you burn any lettering pieces you want.
If you want to learn how to wood burn letters free hand style, my best advice is to get scrap wood and print a template to follow along with.
Pay attention the height, width and spacing of each element; for example, in the image above, notice how the “n” starts much higher in relation the bottom of the “A”.
Freehand burning takes a lot of practice, but it can be done. Just remember to go slow, turn your heat down and expect mistakes with a steep learning curve. Your frustration will get the best of you if you go in thinking you’ll be good at it from the start.
Grab some scrap and a template, settle in and see what happens. AND GO EASY ON YOURSELF!
how to wood burn letters for beginners
Thanks for reading this tutorial on how to wood burn letters for beginners. I hope it was helpful. Add to the conversation below with more helpful tips burning letters.
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I put together a digital download packet that highlights wood burning tools and projects perfect for pyro beginners.
“what burner should I use?”
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Thanks for tutorial. Just starting to learn to wood burn. It is just a unique craft. Looking forward to some more tutorials.
You’re welcome! Is there anything in particular you’d like to learn about wood burning? I’m always looking for more tutorial ideas.
Where do you get the equipment to start
Hey Carl! I use a Colwood Super Pro II from woodburning.com Thanks!
which tip did you use for this? i found a colwood detailer on ebay, do you know if the tips are interchangeable? thanks!
Hey Sara, I used the lettering tip. It’s called the RT-C. Colwood has two types of wands, the replaceable tips or the fixed tip wands. So it depends on the model you’re looking at. We actually sell the detailer in our Etsy shop as a kit with 5 tips and other accessories. The RT-C is in the kit. Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/631244224/professional-wood-burning-kit-with?ref=shop_home_active_2
Thanks for reading!!
Newbie at this great craft. I was wondering about burning tips. Which tips do what ? I have a problem with shading as well.
Hey James, Great question. There are a ton of tips to go over, so I’ll just cover a few. I use the the straight edge tips to create straight lines. The rounded tips are great for lettering. The flat tips are great for shading. You just need to practice with each kind and find the ones that you like to work with the most. Shading is tricky and it also just takes practice. I would start with a low heat and work your way up to higher heats. I use a circular motion to shade most of the time. It helps control the heat patterns and makes it easier to get the color you want.
Do you have a link for the photoshop I can’t find it. Thanks
Hey McKenzie, you can just go to adobe.com. You’ll have to buy Photoshop to use it. 🙂
What’s your best advice you can give a newbie to the art.
Hi Anne-Marie! My best advice is experiment with different woods. Find the ones you like best and then experiment with textures, tips and shading.
How do you get your wood burning to stand out on darker wood like barn wood?
I don’t think there is a way to. I usually don’t burn on dark woods for that very reason. I use lighter woods and I don’t stain them, because it washes out the burn details. The darkest I’ve burned is black walnut, but it was a solid dark black burn of someones initials. It was a bit difficult to see, but they were large enough that it was okay. It’s just better to find a lighter wood. 🙂
Stay at home mama looking for a new hobby and wood burning really caught my eye! My question is, what do you use to copy your letters/artwork onto the wood with the carbon paper? A pencil? Pen? Thanks in advance!
Hey there! I use a carbon paper transfer to copy the template to the wood. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Landon "Lumber Master" Edgington
This is a great idea for photo frame and gift for special occasions. Thanks for sharing steps by steps
You bet! Thanks for reading. 🙂
i want to burn some things into barn boards. so what do i need to get started. let me know what all the equipment is i do plan on working on this for quite some time. have quite of a lot of boards. I really would appreciate your help. Thanks
Hey there, This blog will help you get started. https://www.pyrocrafters.com/learn-how-to-wood-burn-in-10-easy-steps/
I’m not familiar with the state of your barn boards and what their state is, so just remember to where a respirator or some sort of protection to prevent smoke inhalation. And make sure you are burning in a well ventilated area.
This is the respirator/filter combo that I use: Mask https://amzn.to/3lwf4Vh Filters https://amzn.to/31vZFMq
Thanks for reading!
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Thanks for info. This was a big help. Pb