UPDATED (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JULY 1, 2020 8:56 PM)
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It’s not a great idea to play with fire—but there’s no rule against writing with it. Pyrography, using fire to make marks on a variety of materials, dates back to prehistory. “Pyro” comes from the Greek pyr, meaning fire, and “graphy” derives from the Greek graphos, meaning to write. While people “wrote with fire” early on using hot pokers on wood or leather, there now exist woodburning implements similar to pens made specifically to inscribe text, designs, and patterns on wood and leather, as well as gourds, metal, and thick paper. For beginners and advanced artists alike, if you’re looking for a pen that’s little more than just that—easy to pack and easy to use—these are the pyrography tools for you. Browse our roundup below to find the one that’s best for your project.
1. Walnut Hollow Creative Versa Tool
If you’re in the market for a more simple tool, consider this one by Walnut Hollow. It’s basically a writing tip connected to a temperature knob and electric plug; although temperatures range from 0 to 950 degrees F, the dial doesn’t show degrees. The pen features a padded comfort grip, a heat shield, and a stand, along with eleven interchangeable metal tips to create a variety of markings. The tips offer the capability to woodburn, cut, and carve in a multitude of styles. With this no-frills device, you simply hold the pen as you would a classic felt-tip or ballpoint and write. It brings the world, quite literally, to your fingertips, but it cools slowly so be careful not to burn them; you may also risk breaking off the tip if you try to change it before the tool has fully cooled.
2. Topelek Wood Burning Machine Kit
This 40-watt woodburning pen kit comes with four different wire tips for a good range of styles when drawing or writing on wood, and a number of other wire tip styles are available. It features more precise temperature control, and allows the user to be particularly adept when taking on more artistic projects, as it doesn’t burn quite as deeply or as fast as its counterparts, enabling more detailed work. The tips are liable to break under heavy pressure when hot.
3. Walnut Hollow Woodburner Introduction
This pen is a great option for beginners, offering a no-frills woodburning pen. With a simple plug-in-and-go design, the pen has only one temperature setting (950 degrees F) and works well at maintaining a constant temperature for the duration of use; it has an on-off switch on the cord. What’s more, the pen comes with four interchangeable points, and it’s compatible with all other Walnut Hollow points. It comes with an easy-to-follow instruction booklet that outlines how to use each pen tip. Be forewarned that the tip gets very hot very fast, and may break under excessive pressure.
4. TRUArt Pyrography Pen Set
The stainless-steel barrel of this brass-tipped pen is integrated with heat- and impact-resistant rubber, so it will withstand very high temperatures. The brass tips, as with most such tools, are susceptible to breakage when hot, but replacement is guaranteed. The kit includes 21 interchangeable tips for nearly any woodburning need, including razor, calligraphy, dot, knife, branding, and pattern transfer tips. The diversity of tips is the standout feature of this device—just make sure to let them cool down before swapping them out (pliers are useful for this). This pen is also very beginner-friendly, as the kit includes great documentation on the care of the pen and the tips, in addition to an overview of the art form. A downside, however, is that the cord is somewhat short, and may loosen within the housing over time.
5. Chandler Tool Pyrography Woodburner
This pyrography pen is among the most comfortable and convenient to use: it has a slim, insulated, ergonomic body; comes with no bulky attachments; and boasts a 6-foot-long cord that gives the user free rein. The constant heat holds steady at 1,112 degrees F, allowing for an even burn. The kit comes complete with eight solid-brass tips in the most popular styles, a fair number more than the usual, catering to amateurs and advanced woodburners alike.