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  • Newbie questions

    Hi. I have recently taken a liking to woodworking (construction of things), but my girlfriend is the artist. We haven't tried woodburning yet, but if we do I think she would like it. I love her art, and I would be glad to have it on something of mine.

    The thing is though, how does staining work? I stain most of the wooden things I build, usually just with minwax and polyurethane. Do pyrography and staining wood interfere?

    Should the pyrography be done, sealed, and then wood stain applied? How does this affect colors if it is colored?

  • #2
    Re: Newbie questions

    Welcome Decker87!

    My apologizes ... this thing double posted.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Newbie questions

      Welcome Decker87!

      If your girlfriend is an artist she will love woodburning as it is nothing more then drawing with a hot tipped pen instead of a pencil. It's a very easy media for any 2-D artist to pick up as all of the art priciples that she already has learned are applicable. Woodburning has long been used in conjunction with wood working to create the accent designs.

      The burning should be done before any stain or polyurethane steps are done because stains, polyurethane, varnishes and wax can release harmful fumes from the burning process. These are all applied after the burn. This also applies to any pre-treated woods and painted woods.

      As a general safety rule never burn any wood that is moldy or stained (not fresh and clean) , chemically treated, or of unknown origins!

      Since burned designs contain a wide range of speia tones, from very pale sienna brown through black chocolate you may want to give her a sample of the wood that you are using in your construction to create a small practice sample burning. Once the practice design is burned you can then apply several different stains over it to see which will both accent the wood and retain the burning.

      Each species of wood burns differently. My favorite is birch plywood and another excellent artist here on the forum, Nedra, uses popular. Pine, basswood, butternut, mahgoney and walnut all burn well. I have never tried oak ... seems a bit hard to my way of thinking and style of burning but I could be very wrong.

      Color is applied over wood burning using colored pencils, watercolors, oil paints and even wash or thinnned acrylics. Polyurethanes just brighten the burning and brings them right off the wood canvas.

      So I believe that you are headed down a wonderful path with your wood working and a path where your girlfriend can definitely join in. Please have her stop by the Message Board and say "Hi"! She is most welcome ... and you may find that even you want to give wood burning a try.

      Susan

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      • #4
        Re: Newbie questions

        Welcome aboard Decker87, and your girlfriend. It sounds like you have a match made in heaven.....a woodworker and an artist. You build it , she decorates it. Good for you and good luck to you too!

        Carving will give your pieces more edges for the stain to grab on to and will accent and provide shadows nicely when stained. Burning in an image, will also provide a place for stain to seep into and accent. It also will depend on the wood being used, some woods burn better, just as they stain better. Experiment with scraps first before you set your main piece, then you can see first hand the effects and vary them to suite.

        Again....welcome aboard and you and your girl enjoy yourself here! They are great folks here!

        Bob
        Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.

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        • #5
          Re: Newbie questions

          Thanks for the replies. So if I were to construct, say, a tabletop...I would leave it untreated, then have her do her artwork, then treat, stain, and poly it as usual? Will this distort the colors of the woodburnt image (if colored)?

          I like baltic birch plywood myself for visible surfaces. Is plywood with just a very thin veneer okay to burn on?

          I'm a bit nervous about her trying it, she's a perfectionist and from the looks of it, this won't be too easy to erase.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Newbie questions

            Yes! Once your construction work and the sanding steps are completed but no stain and no finishes have been applied is when she would do the wood burning - directly to the raw wood.

            I use 1/8" 3 ply birch plywood and 1/4" core birch plywood with great success. The wood burning does burn a fine line into the wood but I have never had it burn through to the center ply ... at least not that I can see or feel. And I am sure you know that birch plywood comes in up to 5/8" thicknesses.

            Perfectionist ... ... sounds just like the rest of the Pyros on the Message Board! Again, let her practice first on some scrap plywood or whatever wood your table top is made of. "Mistakes" can often be incorporated into the design work. It really is easy to slightly adjust a design to allow for an over thick line, a line that goes astray or to change the shading to allow for an overly dark spot. I include a small round carving gouge in my burning kit that I use to lightly carve away small mistakes!

            So get your gal some birch plywood pieces about 12" square or 12" x 18", a good wood burner and let her play around with her art first. I think once she gets started on the practice boards both of you will gain confidence in your great idea of her accenting your wood working.

            OOPS ... forgot to say you will want to test your stain colors directly over her practice boards. A walnut stain could lose everything that she did where a light oak just might accent both the wood and the burning. Do several test samples before you go to the table top.

            Susan

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            • #7
              Re: Newbie questions

              One more quick thought. There are inexpensive wood burners that you can get at the local hobby store that will cost around $25 to $30. These only have one heat setting - High! They create very nice burned designs but the range of color tones in the sepia work can be very limited. The one temp tools are a great way to start and see if she even likes wood burning.

              When she becomes comfortable with wood burning she will probably want to go with a variable temperature setting tool and several burning pens. This type of set-up runs around $200 plus depending on how many pens she wants. The cost is well worth the versitility that a variable temp tool will give her and it will last just forever.

              (A variable temp wood burning tool is a fantastic Holiday present ... Hint-Hint!)

              Susan

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              • #8
                Re: Newbie questions

                This whole Idea got started when I bought a dremel versatip from a local hardware store for $15. I solder some, so it is good for me, and it's also designed for woodburning. It reaches a temperature of 1,050F. Is that pretty good?

                Anyway, what about veneer applied to other surfaces - such as 1/64" thick birch veneer applied to steel. Is this burnable, or would the burning process go too deep?

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                • #9
                  Re: Newbie questions

                  Is it variable temperature? Does it have a thermostat were she will be able to control how hot the tool tip becomes? 1050 seems awfully hot to me???? I can't give you a definitive temp but what you want is a controlled burning not a scorching of the wood.

                  In many designs it's the cooler temps that you want to create a variety of sepia (brown) colors from soft pale beige through a milk chocolate color. Otherwise you will only be able to create a black and white effect ... the white tones being the color of the wood and the black the color of the burning.

                  I personnally would not burn veneer as it is so thin. There would be too much chance of burning through a 1/32 or 1/64 inch thickness and into the veneer glues below. You don't want to inhale the fumes of the burning glue!

                  Now remember there are are a lot of woods that can be burned. Birch just happens to be my favoirtie but a clear pine burns beautifully as well! The wood depends on both the use of the wood item and the purpose of the burning. For a burning that will become a framed picture I use birch but I would just as quickly go to pine if I wanted to burn a design on a foot stool, wall shelf or small jewelry chest.

                  Susan

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                  • #10
                    Re: Newbie questions

                    Hmm, that limits my project designs significantly. I tend to use a lot of plywood with a thin veneer on the outside. To burn, it appears I would have to buy plywood with at least a thicker layer of that wood on the outside, correct? It looks like even the birch plywood from rockler.com has a very thin layer of birch:


                    Don't get me wrong, I'm not fixated on birch, it is just a wood I love for building and if it works good for burning, it seems like a good foot to start on.

                    That is the only temperature it has, and no thermostat. However, buying an expensive tool is simply out of the question just for trying it. Are there any woodburners here from southern MN?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Newbie questions

                      DECKER!!!! Go to the workshop .... Get a scrap of your plywood .... Go to your girlfriend .... Give it to her .... Give her the Versatip Tool ... And let her give it a try!!!!!!

                      Most likely the veneer layer on your birch plywood is perfectly fine. My 1/8" plywood has three layers plus, of course, the two glue layers and I have never had a problem with burning through! And, of course, you want to see if she even likes to wood burn before either of you invest in a more expensive set-up.

                      Right now you have everything you need to do a few test samples and see if it works for her and works for you.

                      Susan

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                      • #12
                        Re: Newbie questions

                        Ach lad....the plywood will burn beautifully. As Susan suggests, give the girlfriend a scrap to practice on and see what she can do with it. I burn lots of small box tops, all thin plywood and they burn up wonderfully.

                        Bob
                        Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.

                        Comment

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