9 Wood Burning Tips and Their Uses

Pyrography or also known as wood burning is a great way to add design to wood and to further improve its already beautiful appearance. But design isn’t the only thing you can add using pyrography, you can write things on wood with it as well. 

This is a great way to make wooden signboards or plaques. However, to start off on pyrography, the first thing you need to learn is what burning tip works best for what application. So, in this article, we have decided to give you a hand and tell you about 9 wood-burning tips and their uses. 

There are plenty of techniques out there with regards to burning wood that improves its aesthetic quality. Though, it is completely subjective, as each person has a preference when it comes to aesthetics in general. 

Techniques like pyrography and Shou Sugi Ban are employed by woodworkers every now and then. Some people specialise in pyrography, which allows them to draw wonders on the wooden surface using tools.

With that said, there are actually two types of wood-burning tips available for pyrography. There are solid point tips and then wire nibs, both allow you to do write, draw or design on wood. 

Difference Between Solid Point and Wired Nibs

Solid point tips, as the name suggests, are fully solid and threaded tips, usually made of brass and they can be screwed into the heating tool. The brass tips, once heated up, can be used to burn designs, text, and images into wood. There are many solid point-burning tips available in the market, the most common being the universal point.

Wired nibs are basically just what the name says, nibs made of nichrome wires. These wired nibs are shaped differently to achieve various results. Plus, they can also be attached and detached very easily to the heating tool.

While people would think that solid points have an advantage when it comes to durability, brass is not a very durable material. Though some people find solid points easier to control, they have a tendency to break off due to heat if you apply too much pressure on them. 

This can be a huge problem as it can render your tool almost useless if the tips break off right at the thread. As then you cannot take off the tip without dismantling or a workaround.

Meanwhile, the nickel-chromium alloy wires have the advantage of being able to handle high heat. It can withstand high temperatures, which is why clothing irons use it as well. This gives it a significant advantage over solid points. To tackle the problem, solid points now come with a sleeve and cut instead of screws.

1. Universal Point

This solid point tip can be used for almost anything, whether it is designing or for the purpose of writing. Though there are other tips in the solid point category specifically designed for a purpose, the universal point can do almost anything as long as you have the skills. But that does not mean that you do everything with it, with the specific tips you can achieve much better results.

So a universal point tip is more like general-purpose than specific case use. It is shaped like a cut tip marker, with a sharp edge that looks like a slanted chisel head. With the sharp point on top, it can help in making lines very easily. 

The curves are a bit more difficult but still pretty much doable. For writing cursive, we would again suggest the sharp point, when it comes to shading though, you might need to adjust your wrist positioning to use the overall shape of the chiselled edge.

2. Calligraphy Point

As it must be apparent by its name, the calligraphy point looks exactly like a calligraphy pen. This solid point tip can be of great use when it comes to working on more specific projects. Though almost like the universal point, it does not have a general-purpose use. It has more specific usage, in this case, the calligraphy point is great for shading/rendering.

While its name would suggest it to be great at burning text into the wood, it does an average job at it. But it depends on the kind of font you are writing, if it is cursive, it might be difficult to write in that style. But if you are doing more of a print lettering style of writing, it does that pretty well thanks to the calligraphy pen-like shape of the tip. 

3. Flow Point

A flow point tip looks like a soft point bullet or more like a permanent marker edge. Its rounded-up corners with a flat top give it a general-purpose use, just like a universal point, though there are a few differences between what both of these can do better than each other. With this kind of shape, you have more control over what you can draw. For instance, drawing straight lines is easy, curves are as well.

Dots are incredibly easy to make with a flat tip or rounded edges around the flathead. This makes most tasks with this kind of burning tip very easy. However, unlike a universal point, you cannot shade effectively with this tip. 

Though shading is a difficult task in itself when it comes to pyrography, the flow point does not help in the least with the task. On the other hand, a universal point is not so great with curves, making dots, and writing. But the flow point does these things very efficiently.

4. Cone Point

A cone point is what its name suggests: a tip with a conical shape. It gives the look of a gel pen or a pencil tip, but a bit more on the thick side. With this kind of shape, the cone point is great for more detailed work on wood. 

The pointed tip gives you great control over making things like curves, lines, and text. Of course, writing printed lettering is more difficult with this tip than writing in cursive. But it is still doable with a little bit of time and patience.

However, one downside of the cone point is not being able to shade with it. Shading is a very difficult task with this wood-burning tip due to the nature of its shape. But if you have any other tasks you want to perform with this, you can pretty much pull off anything without much difficulty.

5. Shading Point

A shading point tip is very much a jack of all trades like the universal point. It has a leaf-like shape with a pointed tip giving it a really diverse range of functions. If you can learn how to control this wood-burning tip properly, you will find that it can perform almost all tasks you want it to without any problems.

The pointed end of the leaf-shaped shading point gives you the ability to draw sharp lines. Making curves and circles with this is also very easy if you make them with their pointed end. As for shading, well this tip is designed for that very purpose, so rendering and shading with this point are absolutely easy and delightful to do so. 

If we were to pick one flaw in this tip, it would be that printed lettering is slightly difficult to work on with it. But writing cursive is incredibly easy with it.

6. Writing or Drawing Nib

The first of the wired nibs in our list is the writing or drawing nib which is very versatile in its use. It has a round arch shape that can be used for a multitude of applications, though it does not have a crisp and sharp edge, still performs well in almost every task. 

For instance, it can draw lines very well vertically, however, when you draw lines horizontally, it becomes a tad bit difficult. Drawing curves, however, is quite satisfying with this wood-burning tip. 

When it comes to writing, cursive or printed letters both are easy to work with, though it does not give a very sharp finish due to their rounded-off shape. Shading is doable, but not as great as a shading dedicated nib would do. 

Overall, the best thing to do with this wood-burning tip would be to draw curves.

7. Skew or Knife Point Nib

This is a case-specific wood-burning tip, so it is not very useful in other scenarios, except for the one it is built for. The skew or knifepoint nib has a scalpel-like edge, which is very sharp, and should be used very carefully. It has two edges that form a pointy tip, shaped like a knife or a precision blade.

It can make lines very accurately when dragging it vertically, however, when dragging horizontally, it leaves gaps in between. Poking dots is easy, but due to the shape of the knifepoint, it cannot draw any curves whatsoever properly. Writing is not easy either, whether it is cursive or printed lettering. Shading is next to impossible with this as well. 

So really, this nib is designed for making straight lines or poking dots in wood.

8. Ball Point Nib

A ballpoint nib has a ball on the tip that is used for wood burning. Just like a ballpoint pen, this nib is very versatile and can do a lot of tasks if you know how to handle it properly. With a steady and consistent hand, you can draw lines very easily with this nib. Though the emphasis on having a steady hand for this specific task. Otherwise, you will have very irregular shaky lines.

For making curves or circular motions, this wood-burning tip does an excellent job at it. The nib makes it exceptionally easy to create such motions thanks to its shape. Writing with this nib is just like writing with a ballpoint pen, in which you can do cursive very easily. 

Doing printed letter writing is easy too, but because of the rounded-off shape, does not give the satisfaction of a sharp-edged nib. Shading is possible with this nib too, so overall, it can perform most tasks but requires a lot of practice and steady hands.

9. Rounded Shader Nib

This wired nib is specifically designed for shading tasks, with its vertically flat rounded arch shape. So again, a very specific case nib, but with the right control, it can perform other tasks as well. 

For instance, if you hold the pyrography pen perpendicular to the wooden surface, you can draw straight lines with this rounded shader nib. But when you lay it flat it can still draw lines, albeit not clean and sharp.

Drawing curves is pretty much not recommended, as even if you hold the pen perpendicular to the wooden surface, turning it around is not very easy. So circular motions and curves are not the ideal case scenario for the rounded shader nib. 

Writing cursive is out of the question if this pen cannot draw curves cleanly. But shading with this thing is amazing, making gradients on the wood with this is a breeze.

Tips and Tricks for Using Wood Burning Tips

  • Steady hand: Some tips, whether they are solid point or wired nibs, require a steady hand. This will demand a ton of practice on your part, after which you can pretty much do anything with those nibs. For instance, a ball point nib or a universal tip, both of these are quite versatile but require a steady and consistent control of the pen.

  • Find the best heat settings: With a few tips being edge heavy, you might have to increase the heat setting a bit to get ideal results. It might require a little bit of trial and error on your end, or you can find a guide that can help you with what heat setting is the best for which kind of wood-burning tip to help. Though ideally, every pyrography pen will be a bit different than the other, so the best way is to find out the ideal heat setting yourself.
  • Let the tip do the job: As with any woodworking tool, you don’t need to apply pressure when doing pyrography on a wooden surface. You just need to let the tool do its job, do not apply pressure, otherwise, you might damage the tip and ultimately the tool itself. Like we discussed before, in some cases, amateurs often end up breaking the brass tips of the solid point pyrography pen rendering it useless in case of screw-in tips. 

Final Thoughts

Pyrography is all about knowing the wood-burning tips and their uses. If you know what tip to use in what kind of scenario, pulling off intricate designs, even works of art on wood using a pyrography pen is possible. With the article above, we are sure you now have knowledge of the basic wood-burning tips. Once you master these, moving to the other more complex ones will be much easier to pull off.

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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