11 Best Wood For Pyrography & Woodburning 2020 [Pros & Cons]


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Best Types of Wood For Pyrography & Wood Burning 2020 (And How To Prep It)

There are many types of wood for pyrography, all with different pros and cons. National Rural Knowledge Exchange CC BY-SA

Pyrography is the art of burning images into a wood surface. Pyrography has been an artform since ancient times and although tools and materials have changed over time, the basics of pyrography have remained the same.

This traditional artform relies on various types of wood that each have their own strengths and weaknesses that may help or hinder an artists work. It is therefore beneficial for pyrographers to become familiarized with wood options and the proper way to prepare wood before diving into a new project.

For example, some woods are not only much more difficult to work with, but can also cost you a lot more to purchase, so researching before diving into a new project can save you both time and money.

Below we’ve listed some of the most common and easily workable woods used in pyrography, as well as some more unusual and exotic woods for more advanced artists looking for a challenge. Alongside, we’ve explained the general pros and cons so you know what wood is best for you!


List of Best Pyrography Wood & Wood Burning Woods (Pros & Cons)

Below are some of the most popular woods used for pyrography. They range in price, texture, color, and availability and are sometimes best for practice and not completed projects.

1) Balsa Wood

10 Pack Balsa Wood Sheets, Natural Unfinished Wood for House Aircraft Ship Boat DIY Wooden Plate Model,...
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  • Package includes: 10 pieces of light wood board; Dimensions: about 100 x 200 mm / 3.9 x 7.9 inches,...
  • Unfinished boards, natural wood color, can be painted, colored, and marked, is one of the essential...
  • The surface is smooth and burr-free, easy to grip, and will not cause injury to opponents.

Balsa wood is a very soft wood that is great for beginners to practice on. It is very light in color, has minimal grain, and is inexpensive when compared to other woods listed. This wood can be found at wood suppliers and craft stores that carry wood modeling materials.

Balsa is usually sold in blocks for use in modeling and boards are difficult to find. Pyrography pens tend to gouge and sink into balsa wood because it is so soft, so use caution when burning on this variety and consider using it as strictly a practice wood.


2) Basswood

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  • Made of basswood, it's natural color and unfinished.
  • For crafting, woodworking, diy architectural model and mini house, etc.
  • Perfect for your own craft projects.

Basswood is a favorite among seasoned pyrographers because of its light color and minimal grain. Inexpensive basswood can be found at wood stores and craft supply stores in boards of many sizes.

As a softer wood, basswood is easy to work with and a wide range of pyrography techniques can be applied to it with minimal effort. Some artists may find the softness of basswood to be tricky to work with depending on the type of design being created, so keep this in mind when considered basswood for your next project.


3) Beech

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  • Made of premium wood material, strong, durable and safe to use.
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Beech is another popular wood for pyrography. It is a very light colored wood but contains dark grains that may ooze sap when being burned. Beech is more affordable than other types of hardwoods such as maple, but it is also harder to find at local retailers and online.


4) Birch

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  • Material : Baltic Birch Plywood - B/BB Grade.
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Birch is another soft wood that is commonly used by wood burning artists. Both light in color and possessing minimal grain, birch is an easy and forgiving wood to work with. It burns like basswood and is readily available at wood supply stores and many craft stores.

Birch is sometimes sold in large sheets of plywood, which makes this an economical choice for pyrographers who want to stock up on wood for many projects. Be aware that birch has a tendency to splinter, so do not burn into it too deeply.


5) Cherry

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A less popular option for wood burning is cherry wood. This wood can be found in most wood supply stores and is a durable hardwood. While beautiful due to its rich coloring, cherry is not uniform in color and is considered a medium to dark variety of wood. This makes it less ideal for light, detailed pyrography designs.


6) Maple

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Maple is a light, minimally grained hardwood that is a favorite among pyrographers. It is found in most home improvement stores but is generally more expensive than other options. Maple may not be the best wood for beginners due to its cost, but it is easier to fix mistakes due to its gouge-resistant nature.


7) Pine

Walnut Hollow Rectangle Pine Wood Plaque, 11" by 14"
  • Kiln Dried, solid Pine surface ready for your creativity
  • Overall size 11-inches x 14-inches x 0.63-Inches
  • Made in the USA

White and yellow pine are commonly used for wood burning. Opinions on pine vary, but generally yellow pine is more difficult to work with due to its variations in color. This type of pine is best used for lettering work and not portraits or highly detailed designs.

White pine offers a smoother burn than yellow pine. Both types are light in color, soft, and found in most craft stores but have a tendency to ooze sap when burned.


8) Plywood

3MM 1/8' x 12' x 12' Baltic Birch Plywood – B/BB Grade (Pack of 6) Perfect for Arts and Crafts, School...
137 Reviews
3MM 1/8" x 12" x 12" Baltic Birch Plywood – B/BB Grade (Pack of 6) Perfect for Arts and Crafts, School...
  • 3MM 1/8" x 11-13/16" x 11-13/16" (blade kerf) Baltic Birch Plywood - B/BB Grade (Pack of 6)
  • Material : Baltic Birch Plywood - B/BB Grade.
  • Heavy-Duty : The thick layers of this Baltic Birch Plywood are intended to easily cut through saws...

Beginner pyrographers often use plywood found at local home improvement stores due to its availability and affordability. While plywood is not the best quality wood, it does have a light and even surface that accommodates many different projects.

Designs made in plywood will age and fade much faster than other varieties and the slivered texture of plywood can make for lower quality burns.


9) Poplar

JMP Wood Rectangle Rosette 220 (Poplar Wood)
  • Dimensions: 6" x 4 5/16" x 3/4" height
  • Picture is shown in red oak wood
  • Crafted from high quality wood, ready to be stained or painted

Poplar is another great option for pyrography. It is light, minimally grained, easy to find in craft stores, and is cheaper than other hardwoods. This wood is great for detailed designs and staining.


10) Studio Wood Panels

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  • Kiln dried without the use of any chemicals; finely sanded to give you a flat clean surface to work...
  • Each piece is unique and may have minor defects such as knots, flecking, blue stains or tapered...

Wood panels are ready to use and sold in craft stores. They come in a range of sizes and are light in color with small amounts of grain. Pre-treated wood panels are more convenient to buy and burn than other types of wood, but they are very expensive, so it really depends on your budget and how much you value convenience.


11) Pacific Albus

Pacific albus is a less popular option for pyrography that yields the same results as balsa wood. It is light with minimal grain and is soft in texture. Pacific albus is also very inexpensive. This wood is great for beginners and even experienced pyrographers who want to practice new techniques. The one major con to pacific albus is it is difficult to find.


How to Prepare Wood for Pyrography & Woodburning 

Sanding down unprepared wood is important before applying heat. Ivan Radic CC BY-SA

Once you have found the right type of wood for your project, you need to make sure it is correctly prepped. Some wood, such as studio panels, is sold prepped and ready to use. Most wood that you buy from home improvement stores or wood suppliers will need to be prepared at home.

The first step is to sand the wood. Start with a rougher grit sheet of sandpaper and sand with the grain to minimize scratches. As you work, use a damp cloth to wipe away any sawdust. Once you have sanded it down, wet the wood with a sponge until it feels damp to the touch and let it dry completely. Sand the wood once more with 220 grit sandpaper until smooth.

Applying heat to wood releases fumes. Especially when working with plywood and studio wood panels, ensure that you are not burning too deeply and releasing toxic fumes from glue and other chemicals that may be present within the wood. Work in well ventilated areas and use a fan to disperse fumes and keep yourself safe.

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