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Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

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  • Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

    Hi All,

    I'm new to woodburning. My husband gave me a Detail Master IV Sabre a couple of years ago and I never could find any classes nearby to take after I discovered how difficult it is to use.

    I want to do something a little different with it than what I normally see in pyrography books. My question is what tip and what types of wood should I be using to achieve the look I'm going for.

    If you visit this link you'll see what I am after. Welcome to! | Sticks, Inc. I've read up on their process and they somehow use a very old fashioned way of doing things and have tons of artists. I just want to use my sabre to burn some cute line drawings that I"ll stain or paint. I plan to decorate my daughters playhouse with simple whimsical flowers using it. She's still a toddler so I figure I better get to learning now. I also wanted to make children's blackboards with simple line drawings around them as well. It just seems when I use the tips I have (I can't recall what specific names of the two tips are) I don't get that nice deep line I'm looking for. I tend to get a thin line with deep burn holes along the way.

    I guess I am hoping there is a tip out there that works more like a pen. Just a simple point or something.

    Any suggestions would be most appreciated!

    Thank you,

  • #2
    Re: Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

    I'm far from an expert, Kelechim, but I do own a Detail Master Sabre IV. I think you want a plain writing tip, the 6-A, for just drawing the lines like with a pencil. Are you burning on a piece of pine? Pine is difficult to get an even burn on because of the alternating grains of hard and soft wood. Check out your tip numbers, and that will give us a better idea of whether your problems are coming from the tip, the wood, or just a lack of practice to get comfortable with your burner. I often "play" on old pine shelf remnants and have a pattern of dark and light burns as I cross the different grains. Good luck, and keep practicing.



    • #3
      Re: Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

      I'm pretty new to it myself but I have a tip that looks like an xacto blade or a utility razor blade with the center cut out, and thats all I have at the moment, a lot say you only need a few tips, about four or so. I experienced what your having trouble with. I found when you start to draw a line the wood is removing some heat from the tip. Go a little slower or turn the heat up ever so slowly, it's better to go over a line a few times than fry it. This may be bad info but that's what worded for me so far.
      Are your tips removable?

      I was told to keep my tips clean with steel wool (000) or fine sandpaper. Also a respirator is good because the wood fumes can over time ruin you lungs. I going to try and remember that on my next burn.


      • #4
        Re: Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

        Hi, Kelechim!

        Thanks for the link, very cool items. Probably why you are getting the deep burn holes is you can't have any hesitation in your pen stroke. Once you start pulling your pen, you start your stroke, you have to continue you it at a consistent speed and pressure. If you hesitate at all you get those dreaded blobs/holes. It could also be the wood as bethc suggested or a combination of the two.

        Think of it like a plane landing on a landing strip and taking off on it. The plane stays moving and gently lands on the runway and continues smoothly until it lifts off continually moving with no hesitation, swoosh! lol Another analogy or example is petting a cat. You gently stroke the cat smoothly and steadily. You don't smack down on the cat's head and press down on it when you are finished petting it.

        There are woodburning pens out there that work like regular pens. But there is a pen that I think would work even better from what you have shown and described. But I looked on the site for your type of burner and looked at their tips but I didn't see any that was comparable. And they are a little more expensive than my pens. The pens I use are the Optima pens. They can be used on your burner if you buy the adaptor cord that is available. The site I checked the cord is $9 and the pen is $17.

        The pen I'm speaking of is the Optima hair pen (# 17). It is a very versatile pen. It is one of my favorite pens. Here is the link if you would like to look at it .There is a good pic and description. Also lots of other good info. The ball tips are also on there that look and work like regular ball point pens. I think there are four sizes. I have the smallest (# 19S,1/16").

        My friend, one of my carving club mates, has the same unit as you do. It's not a bad system/unit but I think the pens are more awkward. I think the Optima pens are more comfortable especially if you have small hands which I do.

        I can see why you are interested in that style of art/craft. I love all the vibrant and vivid colours. It would be perfect for your little darlings dollhouse, very adorable.

        Sorry for the long post but I hope it helped a little. Well I wish you luck. Please keep us posted/updated.



        • #5
          Re: Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

          Thank you to EVERYONE. You have supplied me with some great information. I am sorry I was remiss to log back in. I lost my login information and FINALLY noticed that I had mispelled what I usually use as my login name.

          I am very grateful for your help. I am definitely going to check into the Optima Hair pen and the 6A. I was trying to figure out the two tips I already own last night. I don't see the numbers of them anywhere on the pen. They are the kind that are built in with the cord. I think one is a writing tip- so obviously I wasn't using it correctly. I loved the cat petting analogy! I think I'm burning similar to how a toddler might pet a cat. LOL. I have tried pine and I think birch plywood.


          • #6
            Re: Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

            You will need an adapter to be able to plug in the Optima pens to the Detail master, be sure to order the heavy duty cords. I have both units, the Detail master Dagger and an Optima. The Optima pens are by far much easier and comfortable to use.

            Check out your local Carving clubs, they'll likely have a few woodburners that would be happy to share their craft with you.


            • #7
              Re: Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

              I have a Colwood. Will the Optima pens work with it? I'm looking for some that will do fine detail (portraits) along with being able to sign my name on ornaments.


              • #8
                Re: Newbie question regarding proper tip to use

                Hi, Jim!

                I went to Colwood's site and it appears that you do need an adapter to use other tips with it. I would also suggest as WhitleBurner did, getting a heavy duty cord. Here are a couple sites which gives you a couple of different choices. You can decide which will suit your budget and which way you would like to adapt for them.

                The first site is Colwood's


                The second site is Cheryl Dow's


                The third is Turtle Feather's

                Optima products - Turtle Feathers

                I haven't ever dealt with Colwood or Turtle Feathers but have had them recommended by others and there are many others as well but at least this is a start for you.

                But I have dealt with Cheryl for many years and she is a great person to deal with. She has her contact information on her site. I would recommend calling her if you have trouble deciding which route to go.

                But I think you will love the Optima pens and there is no need to get another burning unit. You just have to decide which adaptation.

                The pens/tips that most instructors/teachers recommend are the bent spear shader, round heeled skew and a writing tip or small ball pen. Everyone ends up having their favorite tip but with these three you should have no problem doing whatever you would like to do.

                Good luck and happy burning and learning!