5 Beginning Woodburning Projects You Can Complete in an Afternoon

What kind of projects (and potential homemade Christmas gifts) can you make with a woodburning tool?!

There are many great ideas out there for projects you can create via woodburning. In this article, we’re going to introduce you to 5 basic projects you can start with and even gift. We’ll also briefly discuss tips and tricks for beginners. From there, let your imagination run wild!

Before we dig into 5 easy-to-make homemade gift ideas, let’s start with the basics. It’s important to know how to properly use your woodburning tool, from choosing the correct tip for your application to sealing your finished product. Woodburning can be an inexpensive, simple way to create memorable gifts for both your friends and loved ones. Just make sure you’re safe!

A Crash Course on Woodburning 

If you’re new to woodburning, don’t worry! As long as you respect the woodburning tool and practice responsibility when using it, burning wood can be a rewarding hobby. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Always treat the woodburning tool as if it were hot. That means awareness of the tip and where and what it touches. Even if the unit is cooling down, you should still handle it with caution. This includes changing out tips as well. Allow the burning unit to cool down for about 5 minutes before attempting to exchange tips. Even then, it’s a good idea to use a pair of pliers.

Speaking of the different tips, each one will create a different mark. Practice with each tip before you begin to see what sorts of lines and marks you can make. If your woodburning tip begins to smoke, turn the setting down. Woodburning requires slow, measured movements. That also means you should use a wet paper towel to clean off the end of the tip as you work. The paper towel will remove any debris that could potentially marr your creation.

Finally, it’s easier to burn wood with the grain. Think about running your hand along the grain, and then again against it. How does it feel each time? It’s easier to move your hand along smoothly when you’re following the grain. For this reason, try to orient your pattern accordingly.

The biggest variety in woodburning, besides what tip you use, is the type of wood you choose to burn. Depending on the wood you’ve chosen, you’ll want to change your approach. For example, you’ll want to take into account aspects like composition, thickness, whether you will be sealing your work or not, and a variety of other factors as well.

Choosing the Correct Wood

Every project is different, just like each piece of wood that features your artwork. However, if you’re unsure which type of wood best fits your application, here are a few tips to get you started. The most important thing to remember as you burn any piece of wood? Pay attention to how it’s reacting and tailor your movements accordingly. Just because one type of wood generally acts in a certain way doesn’t mean your particular piece will as well.

Beginners should choose pine, aspen, or poplar. These woods are soft and have minimal grain. They will take well to the wood burner and be more forgiving in case of mistakes. Pyrocrafters.com recommends using basswood or birch, as they also have little grain and are lighter woods. These characteristics allow beginners to see their marks easier, without having to account for the direction of the grain. The best thing about each of these woods, however, is that they are widely available and at a minimal cost.

Amateur woodburners should consider oak or pallet wood, but with caution. Pallet woods, according to Pyrocrafters.com, are often treated with chemicals and can vary in how they react to the woodburning process. Sometimes the treatment chemicals can seep out of the wood as it is burning. This is a potential health hazard, so take caution if you intend to use such types of wood. If you’re unsure about a type of wood, obtain a small block or sample and experiment with it. Does it take well to your design? Choosing the correct canvas is just as important as the image you choose to burn.

Now that you’ve (hopefully) picked out your piece of wood, it’s time to let inspiration take its course. Check out the ideas below and happy burning!                                        

5 Cheap and Easy Woodburning Gift Ideas

Now that you’re prepared and practiced, take a look at the following 5 woodburning projects. Meant simply as inspiration or even as a guideline, any of these projects will make a great Christmas or birthday present for that special someone in your life. Customization is key, but creativity is just as important. Take your time, hone your woodburning craft, and show off your skills with any of these 5 simple woodburning projects. What will you burn next?

1. Wooden Popsicle Stick Bracelets

 These easy-to-make bracelets are great for children who want a customizable piece of jewelry all their own. Wear them singly or even stacked! After all, they only take about an afternoon to create.

As you might have guessed, you’ll need popsicle sticks for this project. Depending on what size bracelets you’re looking for, you might stick with traditionally-sized popsicle sticks or choose the extra-large kind. Pick whichever size fits your wrists best. You’ll also need your woodburning tool and appropriate tips, along with a pencil, rubber bands, a kitchen pot and water, and a rounded object. Make sure when choosing the round object that it is about the same size as your wrist (or whoever you’re making the bracelet for).

To create your popsicle stick bracelets, first pencil your design onto a flat popsicle stick. You can keep your design to one side of the bracelet or choose to decorate both sides. Either way, make sure you’re happy with your design before you burn it into the wood. Keep the tips above in mind as you work, but most importantly, have fun!After you’re done burning your design, boil water in a kitchen pot. Once you’ve achieved a rolling boil, place your burned popsicle sticks into the water. Be careful not to touch the boiling water. Remove the popsicle sticks after about 15 minutes. Before the sticks dry, wrap them around your round object and secure them with rubber bands. As the sticks dry, they will take on the shape of your rounded object.

These cute popsicle stick bracelets are sure to delight the fashion-forward in your family. If bracelets aren’t your thing, what about wind chimes? These wooden popsicle sticks would make great accent pieces to twirl alongside those musical tones.

2. Personalized Wall Hook

Lowes.com featured this project and it’s a great way to customize something that would otherwise just blend in with the décor. Kids are sure to love this decorative-but-useful nameplate project. All you need to provide the backing, the hook, and the tiniest bit of inspiration.

The wooden piece that will act as the base of the personalized hook can be of any wood and size you choose. Stick to a piece that is ½ to 1 inch thick, if possible. You will also need a wall hook (of your choosing, too), a screwdriver, your woodburning tool, and whatever creative materials necessary. This can include spray paint, acrylics, stamps, glitter, googly eyes, stickers—the list of possibilities is nearly endless.

After laying out your design and burning/painting/drawing/creating it on the wooden base, attach the wall hook near the center of the piece. This will insure a strong hold. Bases can then be hung in whatever fashion fits your liking. Entry ways, laundry rooms, and garages are just a few of the places you can hang your personalized wall hooks.

Variations of this design include creating a theme and/or using the hooks to hang stockings. If you know a thing or two about interior design, themed wall hooks can be a great idea for accent pieces. And those living in apartments can use these hooks during the holidays to add some cheer and festivity.

Keep reading for more fun and creative woodburning projects. We’re just getting started!

3. Recipe Cutting Board

Perfect for the baker or cook in your life, this project isn’t too hard once you’ve mastered burning letters. Favorite recipes will forever be ingrained as part of family tradition. Plus, it’s a useful gift as well!

To create the recipe cutting board, you’ll need a recipe (of course), a wood of your choosing, your woodburning tool with appropriate tips, and a food-safe sealant. We’ll discuss what types of sealants are best for woodburning projects below, so if you’re interested, skip down to that section. There are many different options available, depending on what your preferences are.

Like the personalized wall hooks, creating this cutting board is fairly straight-forward. Simply stencil on the recipe and then burn it into the wood. Pay special attention to the orientation of the recipe on the board, noting the direction of the grain and any defects that might impact the final look. You can choose to burn a recipe on just one side, or both if you prefer. The entire board should be sealed, so it doesn’t matter which way you choose. As we discussed, sealing the board will ensure it is food-safe.

Alternatively, you can also create decorative kitchen artwork that speaks to whoever the gift is intended for. Landscapes, portraits, animals—whatever image you choose, the process is nearly identical. Whether these types of cutting boards may or may not be food-safe is up to you, so seal accordingly.

Have you found your perfect Christmas or birthday present yet? We’ve got 2 more projects to tackle, so keep reading!

4. Wooden Block City

Another great project idea from Lowes.com, this miniature city made of wooden blocks will delight the small children in your life. You can choose the size of the city itself by picking out different sizes of blocks, but after that, the possibilities are endless. Don’t forget to name your city!

For this project, you’ll need as many wooden blocks of various sizes as you prefer. You’ll also want to pick up any decorating materials necessary. This can include brush-on paints, spray paint cans, glitter, stickers—whatever fits your fancy. This project doesn’t require a woodburning tool, but you’re welcome to implement a few of your skills if you so choose. If you want to stack blocks permanently together for taller buildings, we recommend a strong wood glue as well. Otherwise, let your little tyke stack them as they please.

Since these wooden blocks will be heavily handled, it’s a good idea to sand each surface down before any decorating begins. After that, let your imagination run free! No matter how many buildings or what types you create, the city is your own to design.

Blocks can also be used to spell out names of people, household name across a mantle, holidays that are themed accordingly, etc. If you’re versed in the art of woodcarving, you can also take your hand to these blocks. They don’t have to be cityscapes any longer, but rather decorative boxes with artful cutouts and carved accents. However you choose to leave your mark, do so creatively.

One more project to go! How many people have you crossed off your Christmas present to-get list?

5. Natural Tabletop

Rustic furniture doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, you can make your own old-time pieces with a little bit of time and a few materials. Anyone can purchase a table and chairs, but can they say they created it themselves? If you’d like to say that, here’s your chance!

For this project, you’ll need a flat piece of wood, your woodburning tool, a design, a stand, and a method for sealing your tabletop. As we already mentioned, we’ll discuss sealants more in-depth in the next section. However, since you’ll be using this piece as a tabletop, you can choose to pick up a slab of glass to top it. Whichever method fits your fancy will do.

Before burning a design into your tabletop, you’ll want to make sure it is flat on both sides. This also means you should level out the top of your stand as well. Prepare the piece of wood for burning and begin your design work. Afterwards, you’ll want to seal the entire piece of wood via whichever method you choose. It’s best to complete this step before attaching the top to the stand. Once the top is attached to the stand, your handmade piece of artwork is ready for action!

Even if you don’t end up burning a design into your tabletop, this is a great cost-effective project that will surely liven up any rustic living room. If you’re skilled in woodworking, you can also trim and carve the edges of the table. However, leaving the natural bark texture might give an added effect. For the most rustic end table, you can also choose a tree limb or trunk for the base. This might add weight in the end, but it will definitely amp up the authenticity of the piece.

Finishing Touches: Sealing Your Work

Creating a one-of-a-kind piece can be incredibly rewarding, but don’t forget the last step! If you want your artwork to last, be sure to invest a little time and effort into sealing it up. Not sure where to start or even what sealants to consider? No worries! We’ve gathered some basics to get you started.

As you might have guessed, you’ll want to consider what sort of weathering your work will need to stand up to and what you—or the person receiving your handmade gift—will be using it for. Factor in what sort of finish you’d like to see as well. Some sealants will tint the work yellow, while others will bring out the natural grain of whichever wood you’re working with.

Options for sealing include shellac, lacquer, Mod Podge, Tru-Oil, mineral oil, spar varnish, and polyurethane. Crafters may recognize Mod Podge and lacquer. Tru-Oil, like many—if not all—of these sealants, requires much ventilation during use, as it emits a strong odor. Polyurethane and spar varnish should be used on pieces that need to withstand the elements. Using these 2 sealants requires more sanding between coats but most will find it necessary for preservation. For food-safe items and high heat exposure, choose mineral oil.

Before sealing your work, PyrographyMadeEasy.com suggests sanding any surface you intend to cover. They also recommend wetting the wood thoroughly and then letting it dry before sanding it once more. This will ensure that the sealant penetrates below the wood’s surface for maximum coverage. Ideally, you’ll want to sand before you begin burning your wooden piece. You’ll also want to make sure your artwork and the sealant is at room temperature. Each type of sealant should have specific instructions for use, so read up before you start.

Woodburning: What Will You Create Next?

As you can see, there are many woodburning projects out there that can be completed in just a few hours. They don’t require a lot of (expensive) materials and all revolve around what creativity you can bring to the table. With proper supervision, kids of almost any age can burn their mark into wooden creations they’ll be proud of for years.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on woodburning projects. Check out more of our articles for tips, tricks, ideas, and inspiration on all things woodworking. Because anything created with your own hands values much higher than something store-bought.

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