About Me

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JLynn has been in the Art, Craft & Jewelry industry for over 30 years ~ promoting creativity through Education and Media. As a published designer, JLynn is known for her detailed, colorful Jewelry, unique Altered ART Wood Tiles, and Artwork. Online since 2004, a former eBay Power Seller, and currently on Artfire and Etsy. Family, Art, Nature and Kaleidoscopes are her biggest inspirations

Sunday, February 19, 2012

TUTORIAL - Intro to Woodburning

As part of the JLynn Sandbox...my way of inspiring creativity...
here's another "Ta-dah" Tutorial and Intro to Woodburning!

Back in the 80’s both my husband and I, started wood burning.  At the time, he was much more dedicated than I…and he wound up creating this gorgeous cheese plate, while I just played with all the burning tips, just to have fun and see what they did!  The Cheese plate he created was full of lines, details, and lots of shading…unfortunately it was lost in one of our many moves - we were so sad~ but although his Masterpiece is long gone, the techniques we learned, live on.  Sometimes our craft efforts are things we do for a little while, or when the mood strikes...and sometimes they turn into a life-long hobby.  Here's a photos of some of those early wood burning practice sessions.

During my Marketing/Education years with Jo-Ann’s, I taught many classes and did a variety of demonstrations (televised and live group demos).  I also had multiple opportunities to attend many trade shows – and one of my favorite booths always belonged to Walnut Hollow!  In my opinion and experience, they create one of the most versatile and user friendly tools on the market (and have been going strong since 1973).  To this day...I still use my Walnut Hollow brand tools - but I also love some of the other pyrography brands too.  Pyrography in case you're wondering is the Art of decorating wood with a controlled application from a heated object resulting in "burn" marks.  In other words "Fire Writing" ;) 

Many people have asked me, is woodburning hard??  It’s a difficult question because it depends on your personality type.  First off…Woodburning is an art form, that has techniques that you can easily learn…all it takes is time, practice and patience.  So if you have those personality traits, than the answer is yes.   A word of caution though… wood-burner tips operate between 850 and 900 degrees ~ so this is not like sitting down and sketching!  It’s a a very HOT tool and needs to be handled with extreme care, so you keep your extremities, hair, and tabletop surfaces in working order.

Intro to Woodburning...
Choosing your woodburning kit, tips, and wood – you can’t really go wrong because most of Walnut Hollow kits come equipped with everything you need to get started.  Walnut and Basswood are both super woods to burn.  Basswood is the softest wood of all the hardwoods and is a light, golden color and has a very fine and smooth surface.  Walnut wood is well known for its beautiful grain and color – but it’s also easy to work with and burns well with the Woodburner.  Maple wood is extremely hard, so will take a bit more time to burn. I highly recommend any of the Walnut Hollow kits for beginners - as it's a non-intimidating way to get started on a new hobby. Here's a glimpse at some of my many tips...

And here is one of the Walnut Hollow Kits that I personally recommend...
Creative Versa-Tool - super kit at Walnut Hollow
(click on the photo to view the details)

Preparing your surface.  Most wood if purchased from Walnut Hollow comes you to you presanded…however it’s always a good idea to use a fine grade sandpaper, and sand in one direction, wiping it off with a soft, clean cloth.  You can easily transfer any pattern using graphite paper or heat transfer paper. 

Rather than take you through a specific project for our Intro to Woodburning, I thought it would be better to talk about the basic burning tips/points…and with that knowledge to get you started with experimenting with the various points/tips and getting comfortable with your grip, hold, and touch.  Here's some examples of a practice sheet I did for the first time...using a lot of the different points/tips.

But before we review the tips and what they do...I need to share one of the MOST important things for woodburning...and that is to always allow the woodburner to do the work for you...and let it flow.  It's a lesson that some have trouble with...but you need to be relaxed when working with this tool, comfortable in your chair and with your arm space (allow yourself PLENTY of room).  I woodburn with a good 12" in front of me and use a magnified glass to closely watch my progress. 

Generally speaking, gliding the wood tool towards you versus away, is typically easier.  Remember, it's your touch, movement and length of time that will create the desired wood burned effect and NOT pressure.  Some feel the need to press hard on the wood - this is definitely not necessary or desired, as it only can lead to charring of the wood or the tool tip slipping off the wood and causing damage to your surface or fingers.  Light pressure is best...and remember that the longer the point/tip remains on the surface, the darker the woodburning will become.  In the beginning...some people prefer wearing a nice pair of fitted cotton or leather gloves (you need them fitted though...)   Also...if you have children or pets, it's a good idea to do these in a separate room from them because they could easily get hurt as well.  ALWAYS...if you are stepping away from your woodburning - turn it OFF - always.  I typically unplug it from the outlet too...

Some guidelines and helpful hints...
  1. Work on a large surface and with some sort of hot pad under your tools/stand - as well as protective covering on the surface you are working on.  I typically have a longer extension cord that my tools are plugged into, so that the weight of the cord itself does not pull the woodburning tool off the table.
  2. When not using your tool, always properly place it on the stand and ensure it's not moving on you due to the cord pulling or something it's caught on...
  3. Be extremely careful not to touch the Point or metal part of the tool...they WILL cause 3rd degree burns.  Take care you are not reaching over or next to the tool for other things while burning.
  4. Hold the tool as you would a large pencil...have fun and practice, practice, practice - with the angles and positioning.  Once you take time to simply just play with the basic points, you'll become much more comfortable with your positioning and angle that's needed to create beautiful lines, details, and shading.
  5. Before turning ON your Woodburning tool, always check your point/tip to see if it's securely screwed in the socket.  I always take a pair of pliers to mine and tighten just for security sake...nothing worse than having a tip fall off while your woodburning (so keep a glass dish and a pair of pliers handy as a precaution).
Three of the most universal tips...
Universal Point, Flow Point and the Shading Point

Universal Point:  For most fundamental woodburning techniques
Flow Point: For curves, dots, dot shading, and cursive writing
Shading Point: For beautiful shading with a very light touch
More points/tips!

There are many tips/points to get familiar with...and I still recommend spending that little extra money and getting a nice kit.  You can create so many patterns and details simply by changing the points/tips.  There is a Calligraphy Point that enables you to create calligraphy style lettering and shaping.  The Tapered point is excellent for intricate designs, and the Hot Knife point allow you to cut and shape a variety of materials (like stencils...).  In addition, there is a Soldering Point (and they carry lead-free solder) - as well as Transfer point (to use with black and white laser copy images)...as well as a variety of Hot Stamping points too.

Here's a picture of the correct angle for doing the shading.  Less time is always best because you can always go back over the area one more time - especially when trying to coordinate your shading colors/depth of wood burn.

Note:  The smaller lines look bumpy...this should be expected when you are first learning, because it's all about learning to control your angles, positioning and flow of the tip over the wood.
Perfection of clean lines, details and shading comes with time and practice.  This particular board done in the 80s was created with just the Universal, Flow, and Shading points

Like any ART form...you will develop your own style, and will have preferences on how you perform different things.  What works for me and my styling may not work for you.  So take time, as I have to experiment and simply play and whether you just want to do your own sketches and burn them...like my own sketch below (copyrighted image...can be used for personal playtime and gifts but you cannot use this image for resale)...or use one of the many Woodburning patterns books out there to create something for you, your home, or as a gift...there are plenty of choices!

Available at WALNUT HOLLOW
along with many other kits!

Well - I hope you have enjoyed learning some of the basics for Woodburning and I've inspired a few of you to try your hand at this fun art form.

In March of 2012...just a few weeks away...
I will be sharing some fantastic news and products with regard to my ART tiles (these are tiles that I have decoupaged with a fine art technique/process that I developed using my own Artisan blend of varnish - and a variety of Artwork including vintage painters, contemporary painters, JLynn ART, digital artwork, photos and lots more).  I am always happy to share my knowledge, techniques and skills - as well as promote products...but my style like anyone elses, is specific to me - so I hope that you experiment and take time to discover your own "ways"...striving to create something that is unique as you are, and take pride in your new abilities!  

My tiles have been called by my customers as "miniature ART pieces".  They have become known for their colors, shapes, and high quality finished style due to the extra care and time put into them.  So - I am SUPER EXCITED to share with my latest RELEASES in TILES, fantastic NEWS, and something incredibly FUN - all stemming from my ART, TILES, and WOODBURNING (new additions for certain...but a brand new product that showcases my latest technique that I just developed) - and although I might be able to give you a sneak peek of some things...I won't be able to share the "biggy" until mid-March...but I know you are going to LOVE them!  Just wait until you see...
Have fun creating!


  1. Janice,
    Thank you for sharing the tutorial on woodburning. When I was a teen I played around with my brother's woodburning kit, but never really did anything with it.

  2. Awesome tutorial... I have had a wood burning kit in my stash for well over a year, just sitting there not doing a thing. I know I bought it for something. can't think why now. :P

  3. Great info! It looks like I've started out pretty well teaching myself wood burning the past couple of years! Here's a page on my website that shows some of my art
    Keep up the beautiful work!
    Suzie Rose


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