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How to Choose the Best Wood for Wood Burning

One of the biggest challenges facing the pyrography beginner is the learning curve behind the hobby.

Not only are you required to understand a completely new piece of equipment to create the art that you’re imagining, but most people have never worked on wood before and know nothing about it.

Believe it or not, all wood is not the same. While we’re going to share some of the best wood for wood burning today, there are some cuts of wood that you should avoid altogether. 


Driftwood, fresh wood, and chemically-treated boards are just some examples of wood that you must avoid for your next pyrography project, but in this article, we’re going to be focusing on the three best types of wood for wood burning.


Tips for Identifying the Best Wood for Wood Burning

There is a pretty long list of suitable types of wood for pyrography, and the best ones depend on your own personal preference and style. When it comes to choosing the right style for your next pyrography project, there are five important factors to keep in mind:

  • Color:

Lighter colored woods are the most popular for pyrography, simply because they tend to contrast designs the best. Dark wood is sometimes chosen for wood-burning, but smaller details typically don’t stand out well here. 

  • Price:

Beginners to pyrography are sure to make more mistakes and go through more pieces of wood than those experienced with the craft. For this reason, inexpensive cuts of wood should be chosen for practice. Fancier, more expensive types can be used once you begin creating gifts and decor with your new hobby. 

  • The Grain:

The pattern of the wood, also known as the grain, is not just a beautiful background for your wood-burning project. It’s a very important component of your art and something that must be picked carefully. Subdued grain patterns tend to contrast pyrography designs the best, while some pieces can use the grain to enhance their look. Either way, the grain is extremely important to consider to prevent your art from being swallowed by the wood.

  • Treatment:

This has nothing to do with preference and is entirely about safety. It is essential to ensure that all wood you plan to create pyrography projects with is untreated. Particleboard, pressure-treated wood, and medium-density fibreboard have all been treated with chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment when burned. Make sure that all wood, no matter what type you choose, used for your pyrography projects is raw and untreated. 

  • Cut:

There are several different cut options available when choosing wood for pyrography. From boards to wood slices, you will want to consider the piece that you’re creating and how it will look when deciding on the cut that you want. Not only should the grain, and the direction it goes, be reflected when choosing the wood you plan to work with, but you also have the option to choose “live edges”. This is where the natural edge of the wood is incorporated into the piece. Many people seek this rustic feel, which is why our sourwood rounds always come with beautiful live edges. 


What is the Best Wood to Burn On?

With important factors, like price and grain, in mind, we’re now going to discuss some of the best wood for wood burning. It will take some experimentation to pick your favorite, but some of the greatest among seasoned pyrographers tend to be:

  • Walnut

Though it typically comes in a very dark color, walnut boards are prized for providing beautiful backgrounds for pyrography projects. Walnut is a very clean wood with gorgeous grain patterns and natural shine. Some black walnut boards out there offer a very light background, but these can be difficult to find. Because it is a hardwood and not as readily available, walnut is more expensive than some other pyrography options, but it is one you should try burning on at least once. 

  • Poplar

Poplar is easily one of the most well-liked wood options for pyrography, as it is rather inexpensive and extremely readily available. This is a great option for everyday projects and practice pieces, as poplar is light in color and has an almost invisible grain. Poplar is also commonly chosen because it is another hardwood, which means that mistakes can more easily be sanded away and burned over. 

  • Maple

Another wood with a great color to provide a nice contrast to your designs, maple is up there with the best wood for wood burning. Maple is considered to be one of the more expensive wood options, but many people enjoy working with this type of wood. The grain on maple is extremely minimal, providing a nice canvas to work with. It’s also readily accessible in most wood shops and lumberyards, though not commonly found in craft stores.

 

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