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What is the Best Wood for Pyrography and Wood Burning?

Pyrography and wood burning on small wood homemade

There is no single “best” wood to use when it comes to pyrography and wood burning. However, you will want to use a lighter-colored hardwood with more subtle grain patterns as a general rule. Maple is one of the most popular woods to use, but poplar and beech are two great choices as well.

Keep in mind that there are hundreds of wood species, and some may be more suitable than others in different applications. For example, if you are going for a specific type of design, then a slightly darker wood may be better. That’s the beautiful thing about art; there’s really no right or wrong way to do it.

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The 3 Best Woods for Pyrography and Burning


different kinds of maple wood
Image Credit: optimarc, Shutterstock

Due to its subtle grain pattern that does not distract from the pattern or drawing being burned and its light color, maple wood is arguably one of the most popular woods to burn. However, it’s not the cheapest option available for pyrography or wood burning. And because of how dense it is, you will need a quality wood-burning tool that gets quite hot.


poplar woods
Image Credit: Pixabay

Overall, poplar has a subtle grain pattern—as maple does—and it also has a nice light color that makes for a good pyrography canvas. The biggest plus about poplar is its price. It is generally a much cheaper wood option. Another positive point is it is a softer wood, so it’s easier to work with as far as burning it goes as well as the prep beforehand. The downside is that poplar quite often has more resin and sap in it than maple does, depending on the piece. This can be an inconvenience when wood-burning.


beech wood
Image Credit By: 1771391, Pixabay

Beech is another excellent and popular choice for pyrography and wood-burning simply because it’s generally very affordably priced. Like the other two popular kinds of wood, beech has a desirable pale color. However, its grain is less subtle, and depending on your design, this can cause some issues. The other downside is that it usually has much more resin than the other two. But if you are looking for a cheap wood that still looks decent to practice with, beech is a fantastic option.

Preparing Wood for Pyrography and Wood Burning

If you want your pyrography to turn out nicely, you’ll want to make sure that you prepare your wood. There are really only two major things to do with preparing most woods, especially if you’re using one of the three described above.

  • If you aren’t buying pre-cut pieces, you’ll want to cut the board down to size to save sanding wood that you’re going to cut off. Also, if you have a planer, then doing a couple of passes on each side will save time in sanding as well.
  • The initial roughness of the wood will determine the sandpaper you use. As a general rule, starting with a 120 grit and going up to about 220 grit will be sufficient.

What Woods to Avoid

Overly dark wood will not show your art off very well. Also, pronounced grain patterns or resinous woods will be challenging to work with and unless you want to spend a ton of time preparing your piece of wood to work with, then avoiding uneven or rough-cut timber is a good idea.

From a safety perspective, any treated woods or synthetic products should be avoided even if everything else about them is perfect. When wood-burning, the heat will release these chemicals, and most of them are toxic to breathe in.

Pyrography on More Than Just Wood

Interestingly enough, pyrography is not limited to wood—although wood is the most popular thing to burn. Numerous other materials can be successfully burned. Some of these give the burn a unique effect that you don’t get with wood. Here are a few other viable materials:

  • Leather: The great thing about leather is that there is no wood grain to worry about.
  • Ivory: Due to being illegal to trade, ivory isn’t commonly used anymore. But pre-embargo ivory can still be purchased.
  • Paper: Believe it or not, paper actually makes for a neat pyrography canvas. It does take a more delicate touch, but it’s more durable than one might think.

tool divider Conclusion

There you go, three of the best woods to get you started with pyrography or wood burning. This form of art has been around for many years, and there are some absolutely stunning creations that come out of it. You can pick up an inexpensive kit online or your local craft store to get you going and see where your imagination takes you!

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Featured Image Credit: GlamourGirl, Pixabay


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