Wood Burning for Beginners

Due to the holidays, I haven’t posted in a while, that is why for the first project of the new year I wanted to start off with something I have not done for you yet. Now it has been a few years since I have done any wood burning, that is why I thought “wood burning for beginners” was a good fit. Wood burning is the main point of this, but there is some drawing and a little wood carving involved as well. I will share my process from start to finish, pictures along the way, and the tools I used to accomplish everything. So without further a due, lets gets started!

Items I used

  • Sketch book and pencil
  • Scotch tape
  • scissors
  • Small (heart shaped) wood block
  • xacto wood carving set
  • Walnut hollow creative wood burning kit

Starting Out

For this project I used a heart shaped wooden block that is slightly larger than palm size. My idea for it, was to do an anatomically correct heart on it. I thought it was a cute little idea for it. Before putting my image on the block, I traced it on my sketch book. I traced it upside down, because of the edge around it and then right side up. After tracing the block I went to work on creating the heart, using a few images online for reference for the shape, detail, and shading.

Once I completed the image, I cut out the image along the border. Then I place the paper over the block and held it up to the light to make sure I had it aligned correctly before taping it to the block with the scotch tape.

Xacto Time

The image is now securely placed over the wooden block and I was ready to start cutting through it into the block. After spending time on drawing the image this seemed like the most efficient way to transfer the image without spending more time trying to draw it perfectly again. The xacto kit I used has a variety of knife ends to use, but I used the #2 edge. This stage wasn’t focused on the detail of the image, just getting the main lines down. Very carefully I cut along all the hard lines. At first, I was trying to cut it straight consistently, but as I went this became difficult, giving me many hand cramps. Instead, I went for more of just slightly pressing the knife as deep as I could into the wood creating dotted or slashed lines. Only after getting all the hard lines done, did I remove the paper and tape and use the xacto knife to cut some lines deeper. When looking at the image I am sure you can see why this wasn’t a carving and burning “how too”. The “carving” is more of just using the knife to get the image to the wood, and not necessarily a full on carving type project.

Burning Man

Time for the fun stuff, what I am sure you have all been waiting for! The actual wood burning portion of this project. Now I will tell you, I bought my wood burning kit about six years ago from a Super Walmart. I went by a different Super Walmart two weeks ago to purchase one for a family member that wanted one, and I can confirm that they do still have the same kit, and one that is a little better. Now I am including the pictures of the different tips I used while burning, so that you can see exactly what I am doing. That and I am not sure of the names of all the tips, because I through away the packaging six years ago that explained all of that to me.

Tip One

This tiny little thing I used to get the border of everything done. I did my best to smooth out all the edges with it. The only thing I was not a fan off, was that the very tip off it did not get hot enough to burn the bottom of the edges, so there was not good coverage at the bottom, but it did do a great job at burning the edged and doing what I needed it to do, which was to smooth out the outline.

As you can see I also slipped up a bit, but in the end you will see it was an easy fix.

Tip Two

This guy I used to get some finer details and to touch up any edges I found I missed later on. After letting the tool cool down so that I could change tips and heat up again, I had noticed a few spots needing a tiny bit of the touch up, and this tip did the trick.

I had a few more slips with this go around as well, but with the shading to come, I wasn’t worried about it.

Tip Three

This time I started on the shading. This next tip, I know is a shading tip, so there was no question in my mind on which one to use.

This is when things went easier and went a littler faster too. While shading, you don’t need to press to hard, I treated it almost like coloring, just going back and forth around the edges until it gets to the right shade, and then work your way out. I used my picture as a reference of what I needed done. I did lightly go over the white spaces just to add a little color.

Tip Four

This next tip I used to add details around my heart.

This tip reminded me of a flower petal, that is why I wanted to use it around the heart, to hopefully make it look like it is “blooming” in a sense. I also used it around the edges, placing “petals” and mostly adding something more to it, so the block didn’t seem unfinished.

Finished Project

Now I didn’t show you in the tip four section, because I am a sucker for a big finale, but to not make you read too much to get too it. Here it is!

Where to get the tools

Now as I mentioned earlier, I did get my wood burning tool from Walmart a few years back, and you can still get it there, but in case you are a fan of online shopping like I am these days, I figured I would go ahead and add the links of where you can get the xacto knifes and wood burning tool online.


This is a great project if you are looking for something new to try, or if you are no stranger to wood burning, I hope you enjoyed my little project. I thought it was something different from what I have been doing for you, and a great way to start of the new year, so I hope you enjoyed reading about it almost as much as I enjoyed doing it. I would love to hear your feedback on it, if you liked it, if you may try it, what ever your thoughts may be.

Remember you can always follow me on Facebook, twitter, Instagram or google+. Links are in the top right-hand side of your screen.

Happy creating!

and Happy New Year!

2 thoughts on “Wood Burning for Beginners”

  1. Hi there,

    Nice work and I think you have been totally creative here, with the human heart on the heart-shaped image. I haven’t seen this type of stuff since I was at school and It still looks like a lot of fun. The technique you describe is very interesting and allows you to design your own individual preferences which I find to be really special.

    Thanks for this fun article 


    1. Hi Paul! 

      I am so glad you enjoyed my article on wood burning. I actually did this in school too, on the wood shop side of it though, and that’s what got me interested in doing it for art. It really is a fun process, even though it can take a bit of time an patience.

      Thank you for your compliment and for commenting! Getting feedback is my favorite part of the whole process. 

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