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Introduction to Woodburning (Pyrography)

EducationWorld partner Cre8time has shared this resource from Walnut Hollow, a leading manufacturer of best-selling wood products for crafts and hobbies.


Fine Arts
--Visual Arts


5 - 12

Brief Description

Woodburning (also known as pyrography) is the craft of touching wood or leather with a heated poker to produce decorative burn marks, achieving a large range of decorative effects.


Students will:

  • Learn new techniques using various woodburning tools
  • Express themsleves through creative woodburning
  • Gain familiarity with woodburning as an art form


Woodburning, wood, pyrography, craft, patterns

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

Preparing the Wood

For the best woodburning and coloring surface, it’s best to lightly sand with very fine grade sandpaper. Sand the wood with the grain, if possible. If the wood is a cross section, it should be sanded in one direction only. Be sure to wipe the surface with a soft cloth or tac rag to remove the dust.

Tracing the Drawing

Place tracing paper over the original drawing and lightly hold it down in place with masking tape. This will save the drawing as a reference while woodburning. Trace over all major lines with a ball point pen or a felt-tip marker. Dark shaded areas are best left blank and filled in with the woodburner.

Position the traced pattern on the wood. Use a 12-inch ruler to center the design. After the pattern is taped in place, slip the graphite paper (graphite side down) under the design. Use a No. 2 pencil to trace all the elements of the pattern. Press firmly enough to transfer the line, but not hard enough to damage the wood. Remove the tracing paper and graphite paper when all lines are traced.

Heating the Woodburner

Let the pen heat for 4-5 minutes before woodburning. Always place the pen on its holder or in a ceramic mug when not in use. A heatproof pad placed under the woodburning pen will prevent tabletop burns. Once the pen is heated, you may begin tracing your picture.


Fine Point
Used for fine details and general outline work, especially straight and slightly curved lines. Using the tip and half the blade, pull a straight line toward your working hand.Use no pressure. Keep the pen up on the blade with the handle at about a 45-degree angle to the wood. Remember: do not push down on the pen, darkness and lightness is controlled by speed and not pressure.

Soft Point
This technique is used for outlines, curves, small circles and backgrounds. You will get a line that is soft, with a feathery edge. Lean the pen handle to the side, away from your body. Use only the side of the tip and the blade almost parallel to the wood.

Move the pen from side to side without using a twirling action, and back toward the working hand. Keep the pen tip in front of the hand as if pulling a pencil point backward. Let the pen do the work and don’t press down.Turn the wood between strokes so you are always pulling toward your working hand.

Bold Point
Bold point technique is used to outline or emphasize design elements.You will get a line that is dark, bold and slightly indented with a feathery edge. For straight and slightly curved lines, place the tip and blade on the wood as you would for fine point. Lean the pen handle slightly away from you to use more of the blades side. Always pull toward your working hand. A slight amount of pressure can be used for deeper, darker lines.

Final Finish

When your woodburning and optional coloring are complete, a final finish should be applied to protect the wood from dirt and moisture. Use flair finish, a water-based varnish that is non-yellowing, nontoxic and waterproof. The water-based varnish will raise the grain, making the surface rough, so after the first coat has dried thoroughly, lightly sand with fine grade sandpaper. Wipe with a soft cloth.

The wood will be sealed after one coat. Continue applying coats until you reach the desired finish. Do not sand after the final coat. For a soft, low-luster finish, buff with fine grade steel wool after the final coat. Seal all sides of wood to prevent moisture gain, which will cause warping, cracking or checking.


Lesson Plan Source

Cre8time, through partnership with EducationWorld

Submitted By

Walnut Hollow

National Standards

Visual Arts


NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes

NA-VA.K-4.2 Using Knowledge of Structures And Functions

NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas

NA-VA.K-4.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures

NA-VA.K-4.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others

NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines



NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, And Processes

NA-VA.9-12.2 Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions

NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas

NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures

NA-VA.9-12.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others



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