5 Best Woods for Fractal Burning

Fractal burning is a technique that provides wood with very unique visuals. That’s why before you put your safety gloves on and try it out, you might want to know more about what kind of wood is needed for the fractal burning technique. 

The best 5 woods for fractal burning are cedar, oak, maple, walnut, and olive. There are 3 things in wood that determine the best results from fractal burning. The density of the wood, the tightness of grain, and the grain pattern. All of these woods are dense and have either a tight grain or a pattern suitable for the process.

These days woodturning is on the rise, and there are multiple ways to make amazing designs on wood. Out of all of these though, fractal burning has to be the most unique but also slightly dangerous. This is due to the use of electricity on wood that creates the patterns.

Safety Concerns

While one of the more unique techniques to give wood a more beautiful look, fractal burning can be very dangerous. It requires you to work with a high voltage current which can easily take a person’s life. 

This is why the highest measure of safety precautions is advised when working on wood with this technique. You need to have someone with you all the time supervising and reminding you to check each and every aspect before trying this out.

Not only that you need to have safety gear equipped at all times, whether the power supply for the fractal burning is connected to an outlet or not. And with this process, you are burning wood, which means a higher voltage and current might just make the piece you are working on burst into uncontrollable flames. So be cautious of that as well.

Lastly, please only use this article for entertainment purposes, and do not pursue fractal burning as it is very dangerous.

Best Wood for Fractal Burning

1. Cedar

Cedar isn’t a hardwood but it has an average density, making it one of the stronger softwoods. This in turn, makes it a great choice for fractal burning. Along with that, it also has a straight grain pattern. Out of all the three cedar trees, red cedar is most likely to be your choice due to its affordability.

Due to the straight grain of this wood, the waves from fractal burning travel in a more uniform direction. This avoids any unpredictability in the pattern, and you can somewhat determine how the pattern will form. While the average density allows for the electricity to travel better.

Being a softwood does not mean that cedar is any less durable. It is one of the most beloved woods in the US and people love working with it for their home construction. One downside of using red cedar is that it is slightly darker than its other family members. But it is not dark enough to hide the fractal burn patterns, you can see them clearly on this.


  • Dense wood helps in the fractal burning process.
  • Is durable so anything made out of it will last long.
  • Pretty affordable compared to other types of cedar woods.
  • Has a straight grain which helps in determining the direction of the burning.
  • Can be easily found in your local wood store.


  • Is slightly dark in color and might not look great with fractal burning patterns.
  • Does not have a tight grain so the burns might spread and travel more along with the grain pattern.

2. Oak

Oak is one of the most used woods in the United States, it has somewhat of a traditional significance for the people. Oak is pretty dense and also has a straight grain. But out of both oak types, red oak is cheaper and more affordable. If you keep affordability in mind, then red oak is the winner, but in terms of grain pattern and density, white oak is victorious.

They both have a tight grain pattern and are pretty much close to each other in density. So either should work depending on the availability and pricing in your region. While the name would suggest white oak is lighter in color, you would be wrong. It is darker in color with more brown and tan tones in it while red oak has pinkish tones and is lighter than its other family member.

This makes red oak perfect for fractal burning, but its grain pattern is slightly wild. It has long lines in its grain and they are more unpredictable. But this will not be a problem in fractal burning though as you can pretty much guess by looking at the wood itself. 


  • Strong durable wood breeds, easily available, and out of both red oak is pretty affordable.
  • Both breeds are dense and hard.
  • They have tight grain patterns allowing for a better fractal burning pattern.
  • Red oak is lighter in color and looks great with fractal burning marks.


  • White oak is slightly expensive.
  • White oak is also resistant to water and might require you to apply more water and baking soda solution.

3. Maple

Maple is slightly less expensive than oak and is also more durable. It is a hardwood that is pretty dense and can withstand great punishment. This is why most hardwood floors are made of maple. Oak is also a great choice for flooring, but not as good as maple, which is why it is perfect for fractal burning as well.

The density of the maple helps tons when it comes to getting good results from fractal burning. It is also lighter-colored, which allows the burn patterns to be more prominent. Maple has a straight grain, it is very easy to know where the burn pattern will travel through.


  • Very dense and durable.
  • Light-colored so great for showing fractal burn marks.
  • Has a tight grain structure.
  • Is affordable.


  • Is hard to work with as it can shrink and warp pretty easily.

4. Walnut

We all know walnut to be one of the most preferred hardwoods of woodworkers around the US. It is easy to work with and is very durable when it comes to absorbing shock. It is also a dense hardwood with a tight grain that makes it suitable for fractal burning.

It is a bit dark in color, there are variations of walnut which are darker so be sure to pick one which is of a lighter shade. It is slightly expensive, not by a whole lot but will put a dent in your wallet if you ruin it by botching your fractal burning. 


  • Is easy to work with.
  • Pretty dense hardwood that is durable and strong.
  • Tight grain allows for great fractal burning patterns.
  • Easily available at hardware stores.


  • Slightly Expensive.
  • A darker shade than other woods on the list.

5. Olive

Olive wood is a slightly odd choice for this list, but its density and grain pattern makes it a clear-cut candidate for being one of the best woods for fractal burning. Olive is also one of the most beautiful woods there are that you can carve and for this reason, it is the most expensive wood on the list due to being one of the most resourceful trees as olives grow on them. This is why people do not often cut the tree and benefit from the olives instead.

It is pretty durable and solid, but is very susceptible to insect attacks and rot so be careful and apply a good finish which will make sure that it does not get affected by either. Also, it has a very unusual grain pattern, sometimes it is very warped so it might give you unique fractal burn patterns.

Not to mention it is light-colored which allows the fractal burn marks to be very prominent. 


  • Olive wood is dense.
  • The unusual warped grain pattern of olive wood might give unique fractal burn designs.
  • Is very durable when it comes to taking abuse.
  • Light-colored wood.


  • Expensive.
  • Susceptible to rot and insect attacks.

Final Thoughts

While an interesting technique, fractal burning can be dangerous and should be avoided. If you are experienced and are working with people who are also experienced then this article will definitely will you choose a better wood. This will give you a slightly higher chance of getting better results by using fractal burning.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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