How Do You Burn Names Into Wood?

Wood burning, also known as pyrography, is becoming a very popular craft, and what better way to create something personal than burning names into wood? Many people want to create these personalized pieces to keep for themselves or give as gifts, but they don't know where to start. We've researched how to go about burning names into wood so that you can learn how to do it as well.

To burn names into wood, here are the steps you'll need to take:

  1. Prepare the surface.
  2. Apply the letters to the wood.
  3. Gather your tools.
  4. Burn the wood.

You may be wondering, "But how do I properly prepare the surface and apply the letters? What are the tools that I'll need? And how do I seal the wood when I'm finished?" For more specific details that will answer all of your questions, please continue reading.

A man doing pyrography work on a small piece of wood, How Do You Burn Names Into Wood?

How To Burn Names Into Wood

1. Prepare The Surface

Before you begin burning a name into wood, you need to choose a piece of wood that will work well for your project. Then, you need to prepare the surface of the wood to get it ready for burning. Preparing the surface includes sanding the wood and transferring the name you want to burn to the wood.

2. Apply The Letters To The Wood

Once you've chosen the perfect piece of wood and sanded it, there are a few ways that you can go about transferring your design to it. We will look at each of these methods in more detail to decide which one will work best for you.


If you are confident in your lettering abilities, the easiest way to put a name onto the wood is to draw it freehand. However, it can be hard to create letters that are a consistent size and shape all the way across the wood. This method is usually only done by people who have more wood burning experience.

Use A Template

A pyrography expert doing his work on a bid plank of wood

The next easiest way is to use a template or stencil. This is a great technique to help ensure that your letters are all the same size and shape. Templates and stencils can be found in many font styles, giving you more room to be creative. Then you simply follow the template to trace the letters onto the wood.

Transfer The Design

Sometimes drawing on wood is difficult, no matter how much talent you have. If you want to try your hand at drawing the letters yourself, you can always draw them on a piece of paper first and then transfer them onto the wood. You can also use a computer to create a design and then print it out. To use this technique, follow these steps:

  1. Draw your design on regular paper or print it off the computer.
  2. Place a piece of carbon paper onto the wood with the carbon side down.
  3. Lay your design on top of the carbon paper and use a pencil to trace the design onto the carbon paper.
  4. Lift the carbon paper, and you should see that your design has been transferred to the wood.

Click here to see this carbon paper on Amazon.

Use An Image Transfer Tip

An image transfer tip is a tip that you can put on your wood-burning iron. Most wood-burning kits come with this tip included. The purpose of it is exactly like it sounds: to transfer images. To work, you will first need to have your name design photocopied onto paper. Then, place the design face down on the wood. Use the transfer tip to heat the back of the paper, which will release the ink and transfer your design onto the wood.

3. Gather Your Tools

After applying your name design to the wood, gather up your tools. Tools include the wood-burning iron, any tips you plan to use, and safety equipment. Some safety equipment that you might need is a respirator, thermal gloves, and a fan. The respirator and fans help keep you from breathing in smoke, while the gloves protect your hands from potential burns.

When choosing which tips you want to use, it's important to keep the size of your letters in mind. Smaller tips are meant for more detailed work, so using a small tip to burn large letters means that it's going to take you longer. 

A bigger tip is better for large or thick letters. There are other tips included as well that create different types of lines and shading. Consult the manual that comes with them to learn when to use each one.

4. Burn The Wood

A man doing pyrography work on a small piece of wood, How Do You Burn Names Into Wood?

Now it's time actually to burn the name into the wood. Plug in your wood-burning iron and allow it to heat up. Put on your safety gear while the iron heats up. Also, some irons have different heat settings. Consult the manual to learn which heat setting to use for your purpose.

Once the iron has warmed up, you can start burning the letters. Keep a firm grip on the iron, but you do not have to press hard on the wood for the iron to burn it. However, the exact amount of pressure you use can create different effects. You may want to experiment on another piece of wood first.

When you've decided how much pressure you need to use, it's important to keep the pressure consistent across the entire design. Begin by using the tool to trace the letters' outline to create the basic shape. Use a small tip for tracing, adjust the pressure or temperature of the iron if necessary. 

Then, you can begin to fill in the letters. Use a large tip for this, but do not touch the tip directly to change it out unless you wear thermal gloves. Otherwise, use pliers to remove the small tip and replace it with a larger one. When the letters have been filled in, you can begin to add other details if you wish.

Click here to see this wood-burning tool kit on Amazon.

What Is The Best Wood To Use For Wood Burning?

The best wood to use for wood burning is going to be wood that is light-colored and soft. Basswood, birch, and beech are good examples of this type of wood. The reason that wood needs to be light in color is that it allows the burn to show up better. Soft wood means that you don't have to apply as much pressure to burn your design into it.

See More: What Wood Is Best For Pyrography?

Should You Sand Wood Before Burning?

Of course, you don't have to sand the wood before burning it, but it is highly recommended that you do. Sanding the wood makes the wood smooth and removes any rough areas. A smooth surface allows you to create a consistent design. If you don't sand the wood first, your finished product could be rough, bumpy, or uneven.

How Do You Seal Burnt Wood?

Sealing burnt wood is important for keeping dirt, oil, and moisture off of it, which can ruin it over time. Before you seal it, you need to decide what type of finish you want it to have. Wood finishes come in similar sheens to paint finishes, such as matte, satin, semi-glossy, and glossy.

You can either spray on the sealant or paint it on. It just depends on your personal preference. No matter what type of sealant you used, you will need to apply 2-3 coats for the wood to be sealed properly. Be sure to let each coat dry before applying another one.

Note that if you create a wood-burned cutting board, you will need to seal it differently. Check out our other article: How To Seal A Wood Burned Cutting Board?

Click here to see this wood finish on Amazon.

Can You Burn Names Into Wood Without Wood Burning Tools?

Yes, you can. Here is what you'll need:

  • Letter stencils
  • Ammonium chloride 
  • Liquid thickener
  • Paintbrush
  • Heat gun

Follow these steps:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of ammonium chloride with ½ cup of warm water and mix until dissolved.
  2. Add 4 scoops of liquid thickener and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to reach a consistency similar to pudding.
  3. Place the letter stencils on the wood and use a paintbrush to paint the mixture onto the stencils.
  4. Carefully remove the stencils and turn the heat gun on high. Run it over the wood until the letters appear burned into the wood.

Click here to see this liquid thickener on Amazon.

In Closing

We hope this article helped teach you how to burn names into wood. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you create beautiful letters. Once you learn how to do it, it will become easier and easier for you. Thanks for reading!

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