Wood Burning on High Heat
I get a lot of flack from other wood burning artists about wood burning on high heat and it’s time to discuss it. I love to burn on high heats because it’s fun. There’s a lot of enjoyment and relaxation from watching the glowing red tip burn away the wood and listening to the crackles.
Any new wood burners out there watching me burn on high heats need to know the consequences and what they are getting in to if they want to get into wood burning on high heat too. So let’s talk about it.
What are the Consequences?
1. Wear Out Tips Faster.
When you’re wood burning on high heats, the metal in your tips will wear out quicker. Tips don’t last forever, they are consumables. Burning on a lower heat will give your tips more life. I would like to mention that I burned on high heat regularly with my Colwood tips for over five years before I had to replace them. It’s possible that if I had always burned at a lower heat, I would have gotten more years out of them, but I feel like I got my money’s worth. Colwood tips range from $8 – $20, so having the tips for 5+ years isn’t bad in my book.
Just keep in mind that high heats means less tip use.
2. Harder to Control.
Wood burning on a high heat means you have to burn faster or your tip will melt away the wood. And because you have to burn at a faster pace, it’s harder to control the tip and get a clean burn. Turning your heat down will give you more time to add detail, get clean lines and create a more intentional burn. When I’m burning on high heats, it’s because I want to go faster and burn lines quicker. I’m usually burning silhouettes, signs, or adding deep texture in the wood. When I’m shading a portrait, I burn at a very low heat and build up to the shade of burn color that I want.
Remember, high heats means less control. Low heat means more details and intentional burning.
Wood burning in itself is already a risky type of craft. You are using a hot fire stick at 400 degrees or more to burn wood. So wood burning on high heat increases the risk. At what percentage does the risk go up?…..I don’t know, but the increase is there.
No weather what temp you burn, take all the precautions necessary to stay safe. Have a fire extinguisher nearby, wear finger guards, wear a respirator with filters, use fans. Also, when you burn on a high heat, you create more smoke, so the need to wear a mask is a definite.
And you need a small fan to pull the smoke away from your eyes and face and out of the room. I suggest a fan on your desk to pull the smoke away from your face and another fan in the window to pul the smoke out of your room.
Always be extra careful when you’re wood burning. Take extra steps to stay safe.
So what’s the Upside to Wood Burning on High Heat?
Fun, enjoyment, the satisfaction of burning something. A high heat burn is just plain fun and satisfying, so why not do it from time to time? If you know what the consequences are and you’re prepared from them, go for it. It’s just plain fun to burn on high heats. I love the glowing red tip, the crackle sound of the wood, and the high pace burn. It’s an enjoyable and relaxing experience.
I’ve had to defend my high heat burning to many other wood burners cautioning me that my tips aren’t going to last long. Here’s how I feel about it. It’s my art and I’ll do whatever the hell I want to with it. If I want to burn all my tips up faster and replace them, I will. If I want to throw them outside and back over them with my car, I will.
Creating is meant to be enjoyable. If you can’t have fun in the creation portion of your art, then why do it at all? Rules in art or any craft are good for learning the basics. But once you’ve figured out the basics, break the rules and see what happens. Experiment with the boundaries of what you are “supposed” to do in any artwork and just see what the outcome is.
As long as you’re being safe, push the limits. You never know what technique you may stumble upon. And don’t let “experts” come along and try to shove you into the rule box they live in. You don’t have to live there too.
Wood burning on high heat isn’t necessary to achieve your wood burned art goals. When you want to shade, burn at a low heat. When you want to burn a silhouette with texture, you can still burn at a lower heat. These lower heats just take longer, but it’s still achievable.
Understand the risks and prepare for them. If you’re okay with replacing your tips, have back ups. Take the safety precautions. Know that the wand is harder to control.
At the end of the day, it’s your burner and your art….wood burn on high heats if you want to. It may not be necessary, but it’s a damn good time.
Happy high heat burning everyone!
FREE PYRO PACK
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?”
We hate spam too! We will never sell your info. I will only use it to send you downloads and update you on Pyrocrafters news and events.