Can You Stain Wood After Burning It

You’ve probably heard of the benefits and beauty that come with burning wood. However, you’re unsure whether to stain it before or after burning. Should staining come after burning Or before, you ask?

Well, don’t fret; we have got this covered. This piece aims to guide you on all you need to know and do on the proper sequence of operation when staining and burning wood is involved.

Yes, you can and should stain wood after burning. It is best to stain wood after burning is complete for health and safety reasons. If you try to stain before burning, you would be putting yourself in harm’s way because burning stained wood causes a release of harmful gases into the air. You wouldn’t want to breathe in any of that smoke.

During designing and burning, you might want to add an extra staining step before the final coat of varnish or any other finish to seal and shine the piece. Burning your boards with a bit of color helps enhance your results, accenting nuances in the grain of your work and the designs. Let’s dive deeper and educate you on the perfect time to stain your wood.

Should You Stain Before or After Pyrography

If you are burning wood and want to stain the boards you’d be using, you should apply the stain after burning the wood. Here’s what we mean. All you need to do is sand, burn and then stain.

You can choose to either sand before burning or burn before sanding. This, however, will depend on the texture and look you’re gunning for. Staining comes after sanding, burning, and, of course, before applying the final coat of finish.

Sanding may not be necessary if there are no deep grooves or splinters in the wood. But it is advised to sand back uneven areas lightly to prevent sanding off the designs.

After applying the stain, wipe the excess off. This will prevent blotchy areas. Finish the process by spreading on the final coat of finish or oil for enhanced sheen and protection.

Can you stain your boards before burning them? The answer is plain and straightforward. No, it is not advisable to stain before burning because burning stained wood causes a release of toxic fumes that are detrimental to your health and well-being. Plus, it isn’t good for the environment.

Why Should You Not Stain Before Burning?

You’re already wondering what the big deal is? Why can’t I stain wood before burning it? Well, here are some reasons why we advise against staining before burning.

  • First, burning after staining leads to the creation of more toxic gases than the gases produced when wood is burnt before it is stained. We are sure you wouldn’t want to get all kinds of harmful gases into your lungs; therefore, burning before staining is the recommended path to take. This way, environmental pollution is also reduced.
  • Secondly, you need to know that stain increase the flammability of wood, especially when it is still fresh. So instead of just charring the surface, the wood may get burnt beyond what is desired or even totally. And that would defeat any effort you’ve made beforehand.

Once the stained wood is dry, controlling the burning level should not be a problem. But this doesn’t rule out the possibility of such an event happening. So to be safe and not sorry, it is better to not try it at all. Instead, burn your designs, brush off the soot, and then stain. 

Tips on Applying Stain After Wood Burning

A little bit of stain can go a long way in making your results pop and shine. Here are a few tips on how to apply colors to your piece after burning them:

  • Select your desired stain and just spread it over the whole piece evenly. Don’t worry about the color covering the entire board piece. Just make sure to spread it evenly.
  • After applying your stain, allow it to set in and dry for a minute or two and then wipe off the excess using a paper towel.
  • The duration you leave the stain on before wiping it off affects the kind of effect you’d get. For minimal effects, wipe off the stain right after applying it. If you want more pronounced effects, you can leave it to soak in a little longer.
  • A more extended soaking period may eventually cover up the black char design, so we usually advise that you go for minimal effects to balance out the color and the char. But this is up to you; you decide what you want and what you get.
  • With a bit of sanding, you can increase the contrast between the tones and hues on your boards. You can skip sanding if you prefer the results you get after staining. However, if you want to, it must be lightly and carefully done to get the desired effect without removing the whole stain or char.
  • To get crispier edges, sand back using a flat block after you burn and before you stain.
  • You’d be on a much safer side if you go with light stains, as darker shades would detract from the burned designs and render the entire piece unappealing.
  • One way to make your project look good and not subpar is to brush off the wood well after burning; that’s before applying the stain. Or else you’d end up with a blotchy-looking result.
  • Practice burning and staining on scrap wood first, especially if you are still new to the craft. Because pyrography can be tricky, the mistakes aren’t so forgiving.

Safety Tips While Burning and Staining

When burning and staining, there are some safety measures you have to take.

  • Ensure to work in an open area when burning- do not attempt pyrography indoors.
  • We do not advise working on windy days, as the wind can be unpredictable and blow the fire into places you don’t want the fire to get to.
  • Keep fire protection devices like a fire extinguisher nearby. You can also have a bucket of water nearby.
  • Always wear personal protection equipment such as safety glasses, repertory masks, and fireproof work gloves while working.
  • Have an efficient dust/soot collection system. For loose soot and dust, use a wet cloth to get rid of them by wiping the surface of the wood. If you have more residue, use an air compressor.
  • Wait for the wood to cool fully before applying your stain. This could last for about five to ten minutes.

Final Thoughts

In pyrography, staining is optional. You can skip it and brush it back well. After which, you apply a coat of oil to lend extra shine. Alternatively, you can add it and get that vibrant alternating effect to come out. It is a matter of preference.

If you are staining, you have to do that after burning. You can apply a light stain after burning to enhance your results if you so desire. But only lightly, as dark shades would diminish the burned effects. It would be hard to appreciate your design, especially its intricate details. So, go on. Light up some pieces with fire and color. And remember, do not stain before 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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