What is Pyrography? Definition & Basic How-To Guide

What is Pyrography?

The word Pyrography literally means “writing with fire.”

It is an old art, dating back to the Han Dynasty in China, and it was used in ancient Egypt and Africa.

It was done by hand until pyrography machines were developed during the Victorian Era.

Pyrography is a woodcraft where you use a pointed metal object to create art on wood.

What Supplies Are Used for Pyrography?

When you do Pyrography, you need to gather your supplies before you start.

You can actually buy kits that come with everything you need, or you can buy your supplies individually.

You will need a woodburning pen, which usually comes with different tips.

You can begin with a standard pen and upgrade as you become more experienced in Pyrography.

In addition, you will want carbon paper, tape, sandpaper, and a wet paper towel.

You need your wood and your design.

Once you have these supplies, you are ready to get started.

What to Look for in a Pyrography Pen

You can buy a woodburning kit that includes a pen, or you can buy your pen on its own.

There are certain features that you should look at, including how easy it is to use, how easy it is to switch tips, and the temperature control.

You can get a woodburning pen that is quick heating and has a controller for the temperature.

This will allow you to use the pen on other surfaces such as leather or gourds.

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When you are choosing your tips, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The smaller gauge tips take longer to heat up.

When the gauge is smaller, it uses thicker wire.

People use angled tips for burning large feathers or other running lines.

They use a pointed edge if they need to get into a tight place in the design.

There is also a tip with a round end that is great when you don’t want to have too deep of a depression on the wood.

You should understand the different tips and their uses before you get started.

Getting Familiar with Your Pen Before You Start

It is very easy to use a woodburning pen.

It has a metal end where heat is transferred, and there is a removable tip.

When you buy a kit, you will normally get between four and seven tips to use.

Different tips work best for straight lines, rounded lines, shading, and so on.

You should also make sure that you have a safety stand made of metal because you will not want to lay this tool on a table.

As soon as you get your woodburning pen, you should grab a piece of scrap wood and practice.

You should try the different tips and get a feel for how they work.

You can sketch different designs and make sure you understand how each tip works and how to change them out.

You want to use the pen in slow, steady movements, and practicing will show you the right pace.

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Once you start your project, there isn’t room for error because you cannot erase mistakes.

Keep in mind that the tip of the woodburning pen will get very hot, so you should be careful.

Make sure that you use pliers that are wrapped in electrical tape to change the tips because they will stay hot for a very long time.

Notice how much smoke you have coming off the wood; if there is a lot of smoke, then you may have the temperature set too high.

Finally, you can keep a wet paper towel on hand so that you can wipe the tip of the pen if it has residue from the wood built up on it.

Preparing the Wood

You can use any kind of wood in Pyrography.

However, you should know that soft woods burn at lower temperatures, and harder woods require higher temperatures.

Pine is a very easy wood to work with, so it is a great choice when you are starting out.

If you have a raw piece of wood, you want to begin by sanding it.

If you buy your wood from a hobby store, it will be prepared for you.

That makes it a lot easier to work with.

Create Your Design

When you begin, you should start with basic black and white designs.

This will help you get a feel for creating the image on the wood.

As you become more experienced, you can learn shading techniques where you can create amazing works of art.

You can draw the design on your carbon paper.

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Next, you can place the carbon paper on top of your wood.

You can use your woodburning pen to trace your design.

Remove the paper, and you can fine tune your art.

You might want to burn the outline first.

Choose which lines you want to make more prominent, and others may remain a lighter mark.

You can shade the parts of your design you want shaded as well.

How to Protect Yourself

Although Pyrography is a lot of fun, it can be dangerous.

You should make sure that you are working in an area that is well-ventilated.

You can also use a vacuum to minimize the dust particles, and change your clothing when you finish working.

You should use safety goggles to protect your eyes, and you can use a mask to prevent dust particles from getting into your lungs.

Exercising these precautions will keep you safe and healthy while you enjoy Pyrography.


Pyrography is a wonderful form of art that dates back to ancient times.

It is done by using a hot metal tool and burning wood or another surface.

You can create intricate designs or draw and write on the wood, and as you gain experience, you will be able to create amazing works of art.

When you get started, you can purchase woodburning kits that include all of the supplies you need.

Once you have some experience, you may want to use more specialized tips.

As you improve your technique, you will find these other tips to be valuable additions, and you can make incredible art.

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