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Wood Burning

Joined
Jul 24, 2008
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Location
Montfort, Wisconsin
What do you use to burn lines on projects? I've used formica samples from the big box store but find they soften and the lines aren't as crisp as I'd like. I have a metal snip close and freshen the edge but even then there's a lot of mess. Thanks, anxious to hear your thoughts.
 
Joined
Feb 26, 2019
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Location
Lebanon, Missouri
Smooth wire. I tried guitar strings and didnt think they worked very well. I found a pkg of SS wire with spools ranging from ~20 up to ~ 32 gauge, so I could try different dia. I use 28 ga on the small end and sometimes 18 ga on the large end. I use dowels for handles, some think a ball shaped handle is safer. Dont throw your formica out. Wire cant be used inline with the spindle - like the top of a box. Once a surface gets past about 20-30 deg wire doesnt work too well but formica will.
 

Dave Landers

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Dec 1, 2014
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Estes Park, CO
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dlwoodturning.com
I use off-brand formica sample squares (the cheaper stuff is a bit thinner than name-brand). I like how it lets me get places that I can't drag a wire. Seems to heat up / burn quicker than wire, but that might just be my wire.

The edge does get "worn" - some sort of build-up. I just cut or sand it off - usually I use a knife and scrape off the build-up, but if it gets bad, I just use a new spot or cut/sand to a completely new edge.
 
Joined
May 4, 2010
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Bozeman, MT
If you use a sliver of a hard exotic wood, you can burn in a color. Otherwise, I also use wire, in several diameters for different width lines.
 

Bill Boehme

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I've used
What do you use to burn lines on projects? I've used formica samples from the big box store but find they soften and the lines aren't as crisp as I'd like. I have a metal snip close and freshen the edge but even then there's a lot of mess. Thanks, anxious to hear your thoughts.

I use the high E guitar string (not the large wrapped low E string). Buy a high quality new string. Don't use an old worn out guitar string that might have rough areas. I have also used broken pieces of Formica (phenolic resin) countertop samples. I was also lucky enough to find large paper thin sheets of phenolic electrical insulaton at my employer's salvage store. It is easily trimmed with scissors to match the curvature of the turning and makes a sharp thin burn line.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2021
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Location
Roulette, PA
smooth wire has nothing to cut with, thus creating more friction (since nothing's cutting - think of rough wire like a burr on a scraper, maybe?) more friction = more heat just my 2 cents worth (whatever 2 cents is worth these days)
 

Bill Boehme

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Can someone explain why smooth wire would be preferred over woven, covered, or rough wire? Just curious.

Wrapped guitar strings or any rough wire grinds away the wood faster than it can burn so you wind up with a wide deep trench that isn't burnt. The wood dust carries away the heat, not unlike what happens when sharpening a tool on an aluminum oxide grinding wheel and the heat is carried away with the particles flying off the grinding wheel.

With a smooth wire, even though the friction might be less, very little wood is scraped off during the process so the wood and wire get hot enough to char. Think of a tablesaw blade cutting through a thick piece of hard maple. If the blade is sharp the wood is cut fast enough that the wood doesn't get burn marks. If the blade is dull or you push the wood too slowly through the cut, the side of the blade will leave burn marks on the wood.
 

hockenbery

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Can someone explain why smooth wire would be preferred over woven, covered, or rough wire? Just curious.
the edge of Folded sandpaper with the grit inside will burn lines
folded sandpaper with the grit outside sands a groove and doesn’t burn until it loads up.

friction vs cutting
 
Last edited:

Randy Anderson

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May 25, 2019
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Eads, TN
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candrwoodworks.com
I've not done a lot of it but have had good luck with some picture hanging wire I had laying around. I did learn, after a few failed tries, that you need to have a good bit of the wire touching the piece. I was trying it with only a few inches touching. Couldn't get hot enough. Wood blocks fastened on to each end.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
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Location
Cleveland, Tennessee
To me, wood burning is what I do when I really screw up a turning that is beyond redemption. I did have a wood burning set when I was a kid. Loads of fun. I learned that the tip is very hot.:oops:
 
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