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Question about burner pens/tips compatibility

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  • Question about burner pens/tips compatibility

    Good afternoon all,

    New to the site here and have a question. I've toyed around with woodburning throughout my life but recently took an interest in woodburners with variable temp capabilities. As I'm in the middle of restoring my Dad's old side-by-side shotgun, I invested in a Burnmaster Eagle unit. I bought the kit that comes with 2 pens and 15 tips and have been experimenting to see what kind of effects I can produce. I've also been watching YouTube videos and saw some tips and pens being used that are other than what came with my kit. The pens I got with my unit have replaceable tips that have contact rods at their bases. According to Burnmaster, most pens from other brands will plug right into the unit. So I went out and bought a Razertip BHP pen and a couple of tips that I saw in the videos. But I've seen some tips in those videos that I can't identify and wondering if someone might be kind enough to fill me in on what would work with the 2 pen types that I have. I see that Colwood's replaceable tips are mounted in a black plastic piece that slips into their pens. So I'm under the impression that those tips won't fit mine. I don't know much about Optima 1 pens/tips and wonder if theirs might work? Any help would be much appreciated.

    NW (aka Rick)

  • #2
    Well Rick I do a lot of wood burning with just a skew tip and sometimes a shader and that is all I need. I'd suggest getting your pyrography skills honed before worrying about a ton of tips. Most of the pyrographers I know don't use a lot of tips.

    You have a decent burner (basically all are the same) and should be set up to do some great wood burning. Darker burnings are just slower burns rather than temperature dependent...burn a lot and you'll get the idea. Like carving, everyone seems to have their favorite technique.

    Once you get the basic burning down, then work on "shading" which is all you need to do. Sadly I removed my "Applied Pyrography" newsletter from my site but poke around and you will find some great information online.

    Long story but the "woodburner" site is still up but in arrested decay. However their archives might have information to help you.

    A basic skew and practice, practice, and practice...good luck.
    Last edited by woodburner807; 05-11-2019, 06:48 PM.
    Living among knives and fire.


    • #3
      I don't have all your answers, but will share what I do know and offer a suggestion. Here is a link that provides some help in tip interchangeability:

      I think what you're going to find, no matter the brand, is that the hand-piece will have a fixed tip or replaceable tip. (I know.... duh!) With replaceable tips, you can get plain wire, tips with contact tubes, or with a phenolic base (Colwood). (Did I forget any?)

      My guess is that you will find the Colwood tips will only work in their hand-piece. I don't own the RazorTip BPH but do have many of their tips. They state the BPH will accept two of their tips, so the hole must be fairly large, so it may accept the Burnmaster tips with the contact tubes. Since you've ordered both, perhaps you can let us know if they'll work or not.

      The other end of the hand-piece will either have a two conductor wire coming out of it (hard-wired), or an RCA style male or female connector. At the control unit, the wire will have an RCA style connector, a 1/4" mono phono-style connector (Detail Master), be hard-wired into the box, or have a terminal strip to attach the hand-piece wires. (Again, did I forget any?) Most manufacturers make some sort of adapter and/or cable with connectors that will allow the popular hand-pieces to work with their units.

      If you're shopping for replaceable tip style nibs, my suggestion to you is what I do. I first shop for the tip I want and buy the hand-piece made for those tips, if I don't already have it. That way I don't have to worry about one brand of tip working in another brand hand-piece. I also make sure that the hand-piece will fit one of my control units. If it won't, I'll either buy the adapter or pre-made cord so that it will.

      If you're handy, you can do as I do and make your own tips, hand-pieces, and adapter cables for more flexibility. Here is a pic of a home-made jig used to burn straight lines on hollow forms on my lathe. The tip is made from nichrome wire. The hard-wired hand-piece is made from an old fishing rod and held in place by the set-screws in the set-collars. The hand-piece is easily removed to be used normally. (Also a pic of finished piece that's on the lathe in pic 1)


      Last edited by dave.keele; 05-12-2019, 07:45 AM.
      Old carvers never die... they just whittle away.


      • #4

        Thanks for the input and the link. Regarding the BPH, the tips do not fit into holes, but instead are held in place under the heads of two screws. Here's a photo...
        I had reservations about this type of connection. But that said, the pen came with three lengths of various gauged wire. I removed the tip that came with the pen and was surprised by how securely it was held in place. I proceeded to craft a tip that (I had hoped) would enable me to burn two parallel lines. I was impressed by how securely the tip was fixed. It worked (just) all right, but I learned that it would be difficult to do tight turns with it. Any twisting of the pen (which is inevitable) would cause the inside line to burn deeper, and hence, the outside lighter. It may work for my intended purpose, but will require much practice to master. Thanks again for your input. Very nice work by the way. I like your jig set-up, clever.

        GO BRUINS!


        • #5
          Thanks for the photo. That explains how it will hold two tips at the same time. My guess is that the Burnmaster tips won't work well in that hand-piece. Anyone else out there know?

          A couple observations I've made while playing with making my own tips: If the wire is used without shaping or thinning (no flattened spots) the voltage will drop evenly across the wire. This means the wire will get hot evenly on the wire, and not just at the working area (tip) where you want the heat. When I flatten the wire (with a hammer) the wire compresses laterally and linearly. This means it gets thinner at that point, thus getting hotter than the non-compressed wire. To help get the tip hot where I want it to, I will further thin this area by filing/grinding the sides. You can see this in the pic of my first post. This particular tip was not sharpened too much, as I wanted a wider burn. On other tips, I'll sharpen them much like a knife so that I can make fine lines.

          Regarding your tip for burning parallel lines (and not sure of the design), since you said the inside line would burn deeper and the outside line burned lighter, I can only assume the depth of the burn on that one side, causing the tip to cool, resulting in a lighter burn on the other side...? Perhaps others more knowledgeable will chime in here.

          Old carvers never die... they just whittle away.


          • #6
            It sounds to me that you're getting way ahead of yourself. I don't do a lot of wood burning but I find myself using only 2 or 3 tips. I totally agree with the advice woodburner807 gave you.
            Keep On Carvin'
            Bob K.

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