When to upgrade your pyrography equipment

Recently I was asked about which tips to use on a hobby pyrography burner. The subject got me all warm and fuzzy because it brought back some great memories from when I started wood burning. It was only after over a year and over a hundred pieces of wood that I determined upgrading my equipment was a necessity.

When I’m asked if a high end burner like the Razertip SS-D10 is worth the money the answer is easy; absolutely yes!

When I’m asked if one needs to use a high end burner to get great results the answer is also easy; absolutely not!

While I work almost exclusively with my Razertip SS-D10 these days, people often comment favorably on my early wood burnings, made primarily with a basic pyrography tool and a universal tip. In fact, there are some neat techniques I can’t even replicate without that clunky piece of plastic and metal.

For those just starting pyrography, I’d recommend working with a starter burner to see what you can and can’t do. Many of the limitations apparent in an entry level tool can easily be translated into strengths. It all depends on your point of view.

Take the Con and turn it into a Pro!

Below are a few observations one might make about the limitations of an introductory wood burning tool. Let’s turn that frown upside down!

A hobby burner is too clunky.

  • Yes, but taking the time to master it will help you gain confidence in your ability to make any type of mark at any time. Great pyrography is about the details and the ability to make more from less will pay dividends in you wood burning.

You can’t control the temperature with a hobby burner.

  • True, but this is a great way to learn to have a lighter hand and trust your arm.
  • Being able to turn the temperature down on your wood burner gives you greater control and lets you linger on areas to get the tone you want, but the results can appear more mechanical. Knowing you only have a little time to make your mark creates a wonderful sense of energy, fluidity and life to your work. I get asked about how I do fur a lot and most questions are related to my early work when I only had a hobby burner with a universal tip.

It takes too long to cool down and heat up so changing tips can be a chore.

  • Then ask yourself, “Do I really need to change the tip?
  • I have dozens of tips and pens to choose from and love trying out new shapes and styles, but bulk of my work is completed with a handful of options. There are times when a detail point or shader are the best options, but so much can be done with any one tip. The only limit is your imagination.
  • Try using a pattern maker to do an entire composition. You might not love the entire result, but if you force yourself to work with it I bet you’ll learn something new or get a “happy accident” or two.

The variety of pyrographic marks and tones are virtually limitless, even with a hobby wood burner. Often times the limitation isn’t the tool, but the individual using it.

I’ll put together my musings about the benefits of high end pyrography equipment soon, but until then happy burning!


About Chris Wulff

I like to make pictures. Sometimes they move across the screen, sometimes they move you. I draw with fire on wood, with my finger on a phone, with a keyboard and fancy filters and sometimes even with a pencil on paper. I use a camera to capture what I see and my imagination to capture what I can't see.

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