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I get a lot of members on this site asking me about how I incorporate woodburning to my projects. The people at Kreg Jig even suggested I make a blog post on here. So, after completing a woodburning project last night in my garage, I thought I’d take that opportunity to take photos and describe how I do it.

This first picture denotes my surface. I chose to do a smaller version of the hope chest as a donation item for a silent auction. This chest will measure roughly 24 inches long, 12 inches deep, and about 14 inches high.

Next, I turn to the computer and my myriad of fonts and select the one I want. After typesetting my copy that will be woodburned, I print out my piece and flip it over. I’ve saved charcoal sticks from my college days, but you can still get these sticks fairly affordable at any art store. Take a stick and rub it all over the back side of your printout. If you are uncertain if you covered every inch of the printed text on the other side of the sheet, hold it up to the light. There should still be enough light to see through your paper.

Once you feel comfortable that you have enough coverage of charcoal rubbing, place your paper onto the wood surface and make sure it’s exactly where you want it. You can doublecheck for alignment on the wood using a tape measure. For clip art, you can eyeball it, but for text, the eye can pick up slanted lines of text fairly easily. I’d suggest marking off a baseline in pencil that you can erase later.

Find yourself a good sharp hard-lead pencil and begin tracing the outlines of each letter. It’s a daunting task if you have a lot of text, but take your time and trace each letter the best you can. The better job you do with tracing, the better the final outcome will be. While you trace, make sure your woodburner is heating up. This will eliminate waiting time between tasks.

Now that your woodburner is heated up and ready to go, you can start woodburning the image. Do your absolute best to stay inside the lines. If you do go outside the lines, however, you can retouch the wood with a Dremel using a spinning sanding bit. This is the part where you MUST take your time and slow your strokes over the wood.

It’s been my favorite way to woodburn by carefully tracing the outlines of the letters first, and then use the wide portion of the bevel tip to run wide swashes across the wood to burn the rest of the letter.

Once done, you can take an extremely fine grain sandpaper or pad over the wood to get rid of any burnt burrs of wood sticking out before staining. I recommend staining the wood after woodburning, because the sanding will also get rid of any pencil marks and excess charcoal rubbings. Once the stain is rubbed in, that charcoal/graphite is pretty much there to stay as well.

You can then paint coats of finish over the stain, giving the wood that classic gleam. It also enhances the richness that woodburning offers to your piece, as well as protects it over time from fading in the sun. Hope that helps. If you have any further questions about this process, please ask away.

The finished piece.

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Comment by Don Grubish on March 15, 2010 at 10:37pm
Rob, where are you now?
Comment by Don Grubish on March 15, 2010 at 10:36pm
No problem. If you have any future questions, please ask.
Comment by Bill Tesh on March 15, 2010 at 9:30pm
Wow, great job. I am getting ready to retire in 3 months and the wife told me I needed a hobby outside the house, so I am buying wood working tools. Nice to see what is possible, in a few decades, lol Thanks for the details too.
Comment by Rob Grant on February 21, 2010 at 4:37pm
Good directions, I really needed an explaination of the images. BTW: I am a former Saint Paul resident- I still miss the Gopher Bar coneys. Hail the Vulc!
Comment by Don Grubish on February 21, 2010 at 2:42pm
It's easier than you think it will be.
Comment by Jenny on February 21, 2010 at 2:12pm
Thank you so much for posting this! I hope to give it a try soon...
Comment by Gene Maiorano on February 21, 2010 at 12:20pm
Good & insightful instructions..
Comment by Ron Ralph on October 28, 2009 at 6:57am
Very, very nice and informative too!! I wish I had the time to do a project like that!! I'm just finishing up an complete bathroom overhaul and my master bedroom is next in line.

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