Introduction to Wood Burning - a versatile skill | Rachel Strauss | Skillshare

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Introduction to Wood Burning - a versatile skill

teacher avatar Rachel Strauss, Wood Burn Corner

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction to Wood-Burning


    • 2.

      Essential Wood-Burning Tools


    • 3.

      Other Helpful Tools


    • 4.

      Transferring to Wood


    • 5.

      Safety and Other Helpful Hints


    • 6.

      Time to Wood Burn 1


    • 7.

      Time to Wood Burn 2


    • 8.

      Time to Wood Burn 3


    • 9.

      Your Turn


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About This Class

In this class I will teach you how to take a design and turn it into a piece of wood burned art from start to finish. I walk you through all of the necessary tools and materials needed, how to transfer an image to wood, and how to burn using all of the tricks I’ve learned along the way. This is the class I wish was available when I was first learning. I aim to take all the guesswork out of the learning process so you can enjoy everything this relaxing hobby has to offer.

Wood burning can be applied to so many different crafts: bookmarks, earrings, serving dishes, wall decor, furniture, signs, children’s toys, kitchenware, and so sooo much more. Your options are endless. A hand-burned wood piece makes a great wedding, baby shower, housewarming, or holiday gift! It is a skill that you can use over and over again. 

Tools: Woodburner, graphite paper, slice of wood, design, pen or embossing tool, eraser, and sand paper. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Rachel Strauss

Wood Burn Corner


HELLO HELLO! I’m Rachel Strauss, the artist behind Wood Burn Corner. I have been wood-burning since 2011 and love sharing my passion with others. Before picking up a wood burning tool I was a registered nurse and a professional ballerina. While those fields were fun, wood burning has far exceeded them.

I’m a HUGE advocate of the concept “community over competition” and am known in the wood burning community for my “Burnt Month Challenges”. These challenges are prompt based for a month and are a great way to hone your skill, meet other pyrography artists, and try new things. Our last one was #BurntOctober where we had over 300 wood burning artists participate. I've taught my introduction to wood burning class at Pinners Conference, and my ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction to Wood-Burning: Hello. Welcome to Introduction to Wood Burning. My name is Rachel, and I am the owner and artist behind Wood Burn Corner. I am so excited that you guys are here today to learn the art of wood burning. I cannot wait to show you my world, and I cannot wait to see what you create. In this class, you are going to learn how to take a piece of wood and turn it into a piece of art from start to finish. We will learn all of the essential tools that you need in order to wood burn some other helpful tools, how to transfer any image to wood, safety tips and tricks, and also the actual wood burning. I will teach you all of my helpful hints and tips and tricks that I've learned along the way. I can't wait to get started and see what you guys all make. Make sure to tag me @woodburncorner so I can see all of your beautiful pieces, and let's get started. 2. Essential Wood-Burning Tools: Let's check out the tools we need for this project. This is the Walnut Hollow Versa tool, and I highly recommend it for those who are starting out this great hobby. It has variable temperatures and a bunch of different tips or points. We'll need a slice of wood. This is also made by Walnut Hollow, it's pre sanded and it's a piece of birch. They also make slices of basswood, which is another one of my favorites to burn on. You'll want some tape, you can use either Washi tape or Scotch tape, a design cut and sized for the piece of wood that you've chosen, you'll need an embossing tool, graphite paper. We will go over how to use all of these tools. You'll want to have sandpaper or a sanding block. I like one that has both a medium grit, and a fine grit and last but not least, an eraser. If you want to make it easy on yourself and purchase all of these items in one spot, I have a kit in my Etsy shop that is perfect for you. 3. Other Helpful Tools : Now that we've already gone over our essential tools, let's talk about other tools and accessories, like watercolor. I absolutely love using watercolors in my wood-burnt pieces. They just are so vibrant and add a whole new dimension to my piece. I also love using these water pens. They're great because you don't have to dip in water all the time. It saves you time. Another thing I suggest you having on hand is some sort of ceramic dish or bowl, something that you can put hot tips into. If you're anything like me and impatient, you're going to want to be able to change out your tips quickly and while the burner is still warm, so you want to have a pair of needle-nose pliers and that dish that you can safely put the hot tip into. If you're finding that it's hard to remove your tips, that happens when it gets a little bit older and when you use it often. I recommend getting a powdered graphite lubricant. You just squeeze a little into the tip and then it should be a lot easier to remove and screw in your different points or tips. Another thing I suggest is getting a sawtooth picture hanger. If you want to hang any of your art pieces up, that's good to have. That, along with a hammer. That's about it. 4. Transferring to Wood: The first thing we're going to do is take our piece of wood, grab our design. We want to cut it to shape and size. Make sure your design is centered on your piece of wood before getting started. Tape it down securely so your design won't shift. Then you're going to take your graphite paper. You want to make sure that you get the right side down. The dark side is the side that will be facing your wood. You'll slide that right underneath your design, and then we can get started. You're going to use your embossing tool. If you don't have an embossing tool, a pen will work as well. You're going to go over the design in each area, with medium pressure. You want to make sure that you get each and every spot. The closer you are when you transfer your design, the easier it will be when it comes time to burning it. Not only will it be easier, but it will look a whole lot better. You can take a sneak peak and look underneath and check how you're doing, or if you're not sure if you did a line you can always check too. My biggest hint here is do not remove your design until you have made sure that all of your lines have been transferred. You also want to be careful that you don't put too much pressure in places where you don't want the design transferred because the graphite markings can be hard to erase. You'll want to go slow and steady and follow each line. I've found that transferring using the graphite method can be quite relaxing. If you aren't like me and find this process a little tedious, there are other transfer methods. I will go over other transfer methods in another class, but this one is my favorite. What do you say if we do a little camera magic and speed this up. I always like to check on my progress to see how I'm doing. Now I'm going to check and make sure that I have gotten every single spot. The best way I've found to do this is to keep it attached and then you're just going to flip back and forth between the design and what you've transferred to see if everything is there. Once you've completed transferring the design, you can finally remove it from the wood, but keep it nearby to use as a reference. 5. Safety and Other Helpful Hints: The first thing you want to do is make sure that you have a clean desk. You want to be working on a hard surface. Don't work on your bed or your couch. I promise you, from experience, you will end up putting a hole in something. The next thing you want to do is make sure that whatever burner you're using, that it has a stand that you can use and that it's taped down to your desk so it doesn't move around. Make sure that your tip is screwed on tight before you get started, place it in your little doc, and then go ahead and turn it on. While it's warming up, I want to talk to you about some safety things. The number one thing is that you are in a well ventilated space. You want to make sure that there is plenty of air flow. If you have a fan, turn that on. If you have a fume extractor or even a mask, that's even better. You want to make sure that you're using good wood to burn on; that it's not chemically treated. My recommendation is the Walnut Hollow brand woods. They have some great basswoods and some birch woods. What I'm using today is the birch coaster from Walnut Hollow. If you ever need to get up from the table, you want to make sure that you not only turn off your burner, but you unplug it, it's just safer, I promise. Okay, I think that's it. Let's get started. 6. Time to Wood Burn 1: Now that we have our design all traced, we are ready to get started burning. You want to make sure that your burner is nice and hot. I like to rest the cord on the back of my hand so that it doesn't get in the way of my burning. You can have a sample piece of wood lying around that you can test your temperatures on. I like to have scrap wood nearby that I can use to check my temperatures, and it looks like we're ready to go. You want to do this so that you can know if your hot enough, if you need to wait longer, or turn up your temperature, or turn it down depending on what kind of effect you're looking for. Then you can get started. When you are wood burning, you want to make sure that, especially with this tip that I'm using, because it has this sharp point, you can get stuck if you're trying to push. You really want to try and pull as much as possible. If you are pushing, especially with the universal tip, which is the one that I'm using right now. It has a little bit of a point to it. If you're pushing, you can get stuck. You also want to make sure that it is gliding on the wood. You don't need to put too much pressure into it. It's a light pressure. Let the wood burner do the work for you. I don't know if you're seeing this, but I turn my wood so that I can keep my vintage point really visible. I want to make sure that I can really see where my burn lines are going. If you're noticing that your line is getting a little jumpy, as I like to call it, where it looks like it's getting stuck in some places, not burning quite as smooth of a line. What you can do is take your sandpaper and just give it a quick sand, and that just cleans it up. Another tip is to go slow. Take your time. Wood burning by hand is meant to be an almost slow and meditative process. I find it to be extremely relaxing. There's something about watching the darkened color of wood pop up. It's almost mesmerizing. It also smells like a camp fire. I like to burn, since I'm left-handed, with my head just to the right of my work. That way I can get nice and close to really see my lines that I'm following and see exactly where my burn lines are. But without the smoke getting in my face. 7. Time to Wood Burn 2: If you find that, it's hard for you to hold your burner at the angle, some ways that you can get around that is to find other pieces of wood or something else that you can rest your hand on. That makes it easier to get at that level. The other thing you can do is you can use your pinky. I use my pinky to support my hand and to help stabilize it so that I can really get those fine lines with less shake. Flowers are also a great place to start, because if you do make a mistake, it's not as noticeable as it is with lettering. I don't know if you can see that my line is getting a little jumpy. I'm just going to give it a quick little scrape and it just cleans it right up. Also, having a very smooth surface will make your lines a lot cleaner. You want to make sure that you sand down your wood piece using a fine grit sandpaper before you get started, unless it's already smooth. I'm noticing that I'm getting some hot pots. I'm going to turn my temperature down a little bit and work a little slower or faster rather, thanks to technology. Starting to get a little jumpy again so I'm just going to go to skitch sketch. You can see it just cleans up the line. You may notice that if you stop or you're thinking about where to go next and you hold your burner up for a minute, when you go to touch back down, your burner is going to be hotter than it was when you were using it just previously. What you can do to counteract that is to actually just give it a little blow before you touch back down. Remember to keep pulling towards you using gentle pressure and letting the wood burner to the work for you. Notice how I keep my original design nearby so that I can use it as a reference. Don't forget to turn your wood piece so that you can keep that pulling motion and let the wood burner glide on the surface of the wood. For you caffeine lovers, you might want to be careful to not consume too much before you get started with burning because you want the steadiest hands you possibly can have. 8. Time to Wood Burn 3: We're getting close and then we're going to talk about what you want to do if you decide that you want to use a different point or a different tip. The Walnut Hollow versa-tool which is the burner that I'm using today, comes with a bunch of different point options, all for different purposes. The one I'm using right now is called the universal point, and it really is universal you can use it for anything, I could use it for this entire project, but I want to show you guys what to do if you do want to change points. I just finished with all of the leaves of the flower and I want to change points to do the center. What I'm going to do is, well, there are two ways that you can do it. The first thing you want to do, no matter what is to turn off your burner, then you can either wait for this to cool or you can make sure that you have your ceramic dish ready and a pair of needle nose pliers. What you're going to do is just grab on to the end and untwisted. It's going to be very hot so you want to be careful and that's why you have your dish ready, then you can get the other one to screw in. I'm going to be using the flow point for the last part of this project, which is a rounded tip screwed in and using your needle nose pliers or you can wait for it to completely cooled before screwing it in with your hand. It's nice and tight, I'm going to turn my burner back on, wait for it to warm up and then we're ready to go. We should be nice and hot, I'm going to just check my temperature. Yeah we're there, and now I'm going to do the center part. With the flow tip, it doesn't matter what direction you burn in because the entire point is rounded, so pulling versus pushing doesn't apply here. This tip is great to use for Calligraphy, it helps you get the initial shape down and then you can go back with a different tip and fill in all the fine details. I tell people it's floriography. I just finished the Wood-burning, I'm going to turn off my burner and unplug it. Once you're all finished with all of the wood-burning, then you can go back with your sandy racer from Tombol [phonetic] and erase any graphite markings that are left, and just like that you've done your first Wood-burning. 9. Your Turn: Thank you so much for joining me in this Introduction to Wood Burning class. I really hope you learned a lot and you can't wait to get started on your next wood burning project. Make sure you're following me both here on Skillshare and on my Instagram page at woodburncorner. On Instagram, I host lots of wood burning challenges and I love supporting the wood burning community there. On Skillshare, I'm going to be teaching more wood burning classes, including some that are a mixed media. I can't wait to see you there and make sure that you post pictures of any of your work. I love seeing your progress. I think that's it. Happy burning.