How Hard Is Pyrography? A Complete Beginner’s Guide

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Are you new to woodburning and curious about how difficult it is to learn? If you are like me when I first started, you may assume that it is challenging and takes talent and skill to pull off an exceptional piece of art. I have been learning this art for a few years now and this article shares my thoughts on the difficulty of getting started and is created with the complete beginner in mind.

First, let’s answer the question you are here for: Is pyrography difficult to learn?

Mastering pyrography can be quite challenging for beginners but rewarding once you get the hang of it. It is an art form that requires some skill and patience. However, all of this is learnable with lots of practice and dedication. It’s easy to get started and improve as you go.

Hot pyrography pen creating art on wood

Creating a drawing on wood with a wood burning pen is quite easy to do but just like drawing and other art forms, you’ll need to master various techniques for more advanced pieces. Shading and blending are difficult areas that take practice to develop the necessary skill.

Pyrography Basics

Before we delve into the difficulty level, let’s quickly cover the basics of pyrography. The art of wood burning involves using a heated tool, such as a wood-burning pen, to burn intricate patterns, illustrations, or lettering onto wood. The technique can also be applied to other materials such as leather or gourds, though wood remains the most popular choice.

Required Skill-Level and Learning Curve

As a beginner, it’s natural to feel a bit intimidated by the art form. However, pyrography is relatively easy to pick up, and you don’t need exceptional artistic skills to get started. A steady hand, patience, and attention to detail are characteristics that will serve you well in this craft.

However, don’t confuse getting started and burning a few nice images with mastery. Mastering any type of creative art takes a lot of time and practice. Mastering pyrography could take years but is dependent on the person. Each of us will have a different journey in learning the skills necessary.

Like any other skill, practice is key. You can start with simple patterns, shapes, or lettering and gradually progress to more detailed compositions as you grow more comfortable with the tools and techniques. Even if you’re not naturally artistic, stencils and patterns can help you achieve beautiful results.

Tips for Making Pyrography Easier to Learn and Mastering the Art Form

1) Invest in the Right Tools and Materials

To make your pyrography journey easier, it’s essential to choose the right tools and materials. A good wood-burning kit will include a wood-burning pen with interchangeable tips, temperature control, and heat-resistant gloves. The quality and heat output capabilities of your pyrography pen can significantly impact your work, so it’s worth investing in a good one.

A High-Quality Wood Burning Tool

High quality burning tool and multiple pens

The most important tool for pyrography is a woodburning tool. This is the tool that you’ll use to create your designs, so it’s important to choose a high-quality one. While you might be tempted to opt for a cheap model, I would strongly advise against it. Cheap wood burning tools tend to have a universal tip that is designed to do-it-all. It isn’t the best choice if you are serious about learning this art. In addition, they can be frustrating to work with.

Invest in a good quality tool that will allow for the best results and last for years to come.

The following are features you should look for in a good wood burning tool.

  • It should have an adjustable temperature control
  • It should have interchangeable tips to allow you to achieve different looks
  • It should heat up and cool down fairly quickly
  • It should not be a safety hazard

With these features, I have a few tools that I would suggest for a beginner. When I began, I tried to use a cheap pen that I purchased at my local hardware store. It was a single-tip pen and had only two temperatures–on and off. I had terrible results with it but it did get me excited about the process and made me wonder what I could achieve with a better tool.

I went all out and purchased a Razertip SS-D10 Burner and it made a huge difference! Not only did it allow for better results, it also was less frustrating to work with.

I purchased a basic starter kit with a few tips to get me going. If you are serious and know that you want to achieve the best results possible, I suggest purchasing a high-quality tool like this from the get-go.

Another option to try if the Razertip is out of reach for you financially is the Walnut Hollow Creative Versa Tool with Variable Temperature Control. This tool gives you a variable temperature control with multiple tips that can be used. This allows for more control over how the tool performs. It is a very affordable option and has gotten a lot of praise from many professional pyrography artists.

Safety Gear

The process of burning wood creates smoke and fumes, so it’s important to protect yourself from the potential hazards. The most essential piece of safety gear is a carbon filter mask. This will protect your lungs from inhaling harmful fumes. In addition, if you don’t have proper ventilation in your workspace, you should consider investing in a smoke extractor. This can be used along with a mask to ensure a smoke-free experience for your lungs.

Beyond the problems that could arise from smoke inhalation, it’s also important to consider burns and the potential fire hazard that presents itself. It’s a good idea to wear burn-resistant gloves when working with a hot tool. A wood burning tool gets hot after using it for a while at a higher temperature. Having gloves will help to ensure you avoid burns on your hands or fingers.

Patterns and Transfer Paper

It can be challenging to create designs freehand, especially if you’re a beginner. That’s where patterns and transfer paper come in. Patterns are pre-made designs that you can use as a guide for your pyrography. Transfer paper allows you to easily transfer your chosen design onto your wood. This makes it much easier to create accurate designs, even if you’re not an experienced artist.

Besides simply drawing your design onto wood or freehanding your woodburning design, carbon paper or graphite paper is going to be the simplest way to transfer a pattern to the wood. You simply place it underneath your design and begin tracing it. This will leave you with an accurate, detailed replication of your desired design.

There are other ways to transfer designs but, in my opinion, transfer paper is the best way to go.

2) Learn From the Experts

There are lots of great pyrography artists who are more than willing to share their many years of knowledge with you. Whether you take a course from an expert online, in person, or through a published book, learning from others is a great way to speed your process up.

Here are a few of my favorite expert resources:

Book – Creative Woodburning

Creative Woodburning book

This book is written by a woodburning artist who is actually in the field daily, doing the work of pyrography. She has a unique style and has taken her vast knowledge of the subject and compiled it into a helpful book for beginners or even advanced students. Additionally, she includes lots of patterns to get you started.

She makes it easy to follow along from beginner techniques to more advanced ones. You’ll be up and running in no time and producing results that will get you excited.

Book – Learn To Burn

Learn to Burn book

In Simon Easton’s Learn to Burn, you’ll discover the amazing world of pyrography. Easton’s expert guidance will teach you all the ins and outs of the craft, from basic techniques to advanced skills like lettering and shading. You’ll get started with tips on purchasing materials and setting up your workspace safely.

With Learn to Burn, you’ll be able to develop your own individual style and create stunning works of art that will impress everyone who sees them.

Burn Savvy Youtube Channel

There are quite a few great Youtube channels that are dedicated to woodburning. I highly recommend the Burn Savvy Youtube channel to anyone interested in pyrography. This channel has been very helpful for me ever since I started dabbling with the hobby. The host not only covers the basics but dives into more advanced techniques for taking your creations to the next level.

Plus, her approachable personality makes watching her videos feel like you’re hanging out with a friend. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting, Burn Savvy is a channel worth binge-watching.

The Woodburner Forum

Forums are a great way to learn from other enthusiasts who are equally passionate about the craft. That’s where The Woodburner forum comes in. As a member of this community, you can ask questions and get advice from more experienced pyrographers, as well as share your own wood burning tips and tricks with others who are just starting.

It’s always more fun to pursue a hobby when you can do it alongside like-minded people, and The Woodburner forum is the perfect place to find your tribe.

3) Master the Basics

Mastering the basics is so important. It all starts with setting up your workspace. You want to be comfortable and free from distractions so that you can really hone in on your craft. Like any creative endeavor, it helps to block out those distractions and focus solely on your work.

Start with simple woodburning techniques before moving on to more complex ones. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get the hang of things once you’ve got the basics down pat.

Start with rudimentary fundamentals such as:

Linework (Straight Lines)

Creating straight lines may seem like a basic skill, but it can be a real challenge for beginners, at least it has been for me. You might think it’s all about holding the pen steady, but there’s more to it than that. Consistency is key, and that means applying the same pressure and speed throughout your design.

If you’re not careful, your lines could end up crooked or wavy. They may also be various widths due to having more pressure or moving slower through certain areas. With practice, you’ll develop the muscle memory you need to create neat, crisp lines every time. 

You’ll also need to practice angles. Stopping at one point and then turning a different way at a 90-degree angle is a helpful skill to master.

Linework (Curvy Lines)

Now it’s time to take it up a notch and add some curvy lines to your repertoire. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the pen and the different tips you’re working with and how they interact with the wood surface, it’s time to get creative and start exploring different shapes and twists on your burning canvas. Burning curves might feel a bit more freeform and less regimented than straight lines, but they will help expand your understanding and skillset.


Stippling is another important skill to master in pyrography. This involves using a series of closely-spaced dots to create shades and textures within your design. Stippling can be used for anything from creating a subtle gradient to adding depth and dimension to a complex image. Practice controlling the pressure of your pyrography tool to achieve distinct dots that create a cohesive image together.

For best results, you’ll need a ball tip to achieve a circular dot.

4) Understand How Advanced Techniques Make a Huge Difference

Understanding the different techniques in pyrography can help you improve your skills faster. Techniques such as stippling, shading, and gradient shading are fundamental to creating depth and texture in your pyrography work. Start by practicing these techniques individually and then gradually integrate them into your compositions.

The following techniques will help take your work to another level.


Pyrography art with shading

Shading is perhaps the most challenging pyrography skill to master, but it is also one of the most rewarding. It involves adding varying degrees of darkness to different parts of your design to create depth and dimension. This can involve anything from lightly burning certain areas to leaving them untouched to creating dark, bold strokes.

Not only is the act of shading challenging to perfect but also knowing when and where to use it. Play around with different techniques and find what works best for you. Remember that this technique takes time, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.

Incorporating Color

Pyrography with color

Once you’ve mastered the basics of pyrography, you may want to experiment with adding color to your designs. There are a variety of techniques you can use, including painting with acrylic paints, oil paints, watercolor paints, or watercolor pencils. Alternatively, you can create a more natural look by using different types of wood that have unique coloring and grain patterns. Either way, adding color to your pyrography designs can really make them pop.

5) Use the Right Wood

Pyrography can be done on a variety of wood types, but not all wood is suitable for the wood burning art. Certain types of wood are better for beginners and will give you better results. Once you become more confident, challenge yourself with other wood types.

Additionally, ensure you work with untreated, light-colored wood, as it responds well to pyrography and yields vibrant, contrasting patterns. It is also safer since it does not contain any harmful chemicals.

The best woods for pyrography will be soft woods with a subdued grain pattern. The following list includes some of the best ones that I have used.


Basswood round and plank for pyrography

Basswood is probably the most popular type of wood for pyrography because of its softness, fine grain, and lack of resins. It is considered to be the best wood by most woodburning experts. It’s easy to burn through as if you are cutting through butter. It has a very soft and consistent feel when you are using it. Basswood is perfect for beginners because it’s forgiving and provides a good surface to work with.

Because of the minimal grain, you won’t have to worry about the tip of the pen getting caught or snagging on wood grain. This is a problem with grainy woods, such as pine, so I would look to avoid these types of woods in the beginning.

As a beginner, I would suggest sticking with basswood until you’ve developed a feel for the craft. It’s my favorite wood to use for wood burning. After that, you can move on to other woods such as the ones below. As a beginner myself, these are the ones I have burned on and have had great results.

You can usually find these at your local craft stores. They often come in small round pieces with the tree bark still on the outside. You may also find clean wood blanks that will allow you to burn larger pieces that might serve as wall art.


Maple is a dense hardwood that’s ideal for pyrography. It has a pale-colored grain that allows you to create intricate designs and a smooth surface that makes it easy to work with. While maple may be hard to find, it’s worth the effort if you want to create high-quality pyrography projects.


Poplar is a softwood that’s easy to work with and has a light color that makes it perfect for pyrography. It has a straight grain that’s easy to follow and is suitable for both beginners and experienced artists. Poplar can be easily found at most home improvement stores, making it a convenient choice for those on a budget.


Cherry wood for pyrography

Cherry is a versatile wood that’s both strong and easy to work with. It has a reddish-brown color and a fine grain that’s perfect for creating detailed designs. Cherry also ages well, turning darker over time, which can give your pyrography project a unique and vintage look.

Cherry is my favorite wood to work with on any project that I build when woodworking. I love the look of the wood and also love the way it ages. Being a good candidate for pyrography makes it even better!


Walnut wood for pyrography

Walnut is a popular choice for pyrography because of its beautiful color and fine grain. It’s a dense hardwood that’s easy to carve and has a rich, dark color that makes it ideal for creating contrast in your designs. While it can be a bit more expensive than other types of wood, the final result is well worth the investment.

Unlike the other woods listed, walnut is a darker wood so it’s a great alternative to achieving a dark look without having to use wood stain.

6) Practice Before Starting Your Project

Before you begin scorching wood with your pyrography tool, it’s essential to practice on a small piece of scrap wood, to get a feel for the tool and familiarize yourself with how each tip interacts with the wood. Then, you can try out different stroke patterns like straight lines, curved lines, or stippling until you gain enough confidence to burn your real piece.

This is especially important when you change tips or your heat setting. I always like to practice on a scrap piece of the same wood type first to see how it will respond. You probably won’t need to do this as you get a lot of experience under your belt, but it’s important for a beginner.

7) Take Your Time

The beauty of pyrography is that everyone has their unique style, and that’s why investing time in each design is critical. If you’re starting out, don’t go for more significant, complicated pieces just yet. Instead, focus on smaller projects that allow you to develop and play with different patterns and techniques. Even if the process may seem slow, it can be rewarding once you see your creation take shape.

Enjoy the process and use it as a way to relax. You’ll find joy in the craft and the techniques and results will come to you over time.

Safety Precautions

While pyrography is relatively easy to learn, it’s crucial to take safety precautions as you work with heated tools. Always wear heat-resistant gloves, maintain a clean and organized workspace, and never leave your tools unattended while they’re hot. Additionally, make sure that you work in a well-ventilated area and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Finally, be mindful of the materials you use. For example, avoid working with chemically-treated wood, as these can create toxic fumes when burned. If you’re unsure about the material or have any questions or concerns, it’s best to avoid that material altogether.

I prefer to stick with woods that are in their natural state with nothing additional added.


Pyrography is an intricate and stunning art form that can be learned and mastered with patience, practice, and commitment. By following these pyrography tips, you can make the process of learning this skill simpler and more enjoyable.

Is pyrography an easy hobby or does it require a lot of skill and practice?

The truth is, it falls somewhere in between. With the right tools, materials, and mindset, anyone can pick up the pyrography art and create stunning pieces. While it doesn’t necessitate years of training, it does require practice, patience, and dedication. Don’t be afraid to start your pyrography journey. It’s an engaging, rewarding, and versatile art form that can open up a world of creative possibilities.