“Which pyrography tool should I choose?”
This seems like a simple question to answer until you start looking at all of the options. So often, the hardest thing about getting started with a new hobby is making choices about tools and materials. This is by no means a comprehensive guide to tools, however I hope it will help relieve some pressure, and make it easier for you to get started on your pyrography journey.
But first a word about tools in general. Tools matter, but not as much as you might think.
A tool is just a thing, and only becomes useful in the hands of one who knows how to use it. It’s more about the artist or the craftsman then it is about the tool. So, even though I am suggesting some tools here, what really matters is that you get the one that you think fits you, your style, your budget.
Then, you practice. Make lots of stuff, burn so many things that you make your tool useful.
With that said, here’s what I have to say about which pyrography tool you should choose:
You can start by narrowing your choice to one of two basic categories of wood burners: Solid point and wire tip burners.
Solid Tip Pyrography Tools
Solid tip tools are just that. They have a solid brass tip that screws directly into a heated shaft. All the heat comes from the pen itself, so it’s a lot like holding a extra chunky marker. Your hand is farther away from the tip, so it can take a while to get used to.
These burners are great for people who are planning to do one or just a few projects, or are new to wood burning and just want to try it out. You can get a good quality solid tip burner for under $50.
In fact, the burner I teach my classes with is the Walnut Hollow Creative Versa Tool and retails for about $35, but is usually on sale somewhere.
You can make some great projects with a solid tip burner, like the earrings in this video tutorial
Why I love solid tip pyrography tools:
- great for hobbyists or if you’re just doing one or two projects
- perfect if you are not sure you love woodburning and you just want to try it out
- compact, easy to store and pack for travel (not in your carry on)
Things I don’t love about them:
- the fat pen can be difficult control
- they take several minutes to heat up/cool down
- since the heat source is in the pen, they can get quite hot to the touch (I don’t have a problem with this, but some do)
- there is a steep learning curve if you want super fine detail
The solid tip wood burner that I use for my art and for my students is the Walnut Hollow Versa Tool. It’s also the tool included in my Wood Burning Starter Kit. It has adjustable temperature control and comes with several different nibs to get you started.
Get yours here: Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool
If you want to spend just a little more, you can get the Tru Art Wood burning kit for $45 that comes with 20 brass wood burning tips, and in addition a bunch of soldering tips and stencils.
For the truly budget minded you can get the Walnut Hollow Creative Wood Burner for $15 or even less, if it’s on sale. This tool has no temperature control, but is quite useful for basic work.
Wire Tip Pyrography Tools
Wire tip burners have a slender pen with a wire tip shaped into various configurations. These heat up quickly and get extremely hot.
The wire tips allow for amazing detail and fine (tiny) wood burning. Most wire tip burners are labeled “professional” but there is a wide range of prices and styles.
This video tutorial is a great example of the detail you can achieve with a wire tip pyrography tool
Why I love wire tip pyrography tools:
- ergonomic design (slender shape. more like and actual pen)
- heat up in seconds
- precise heat control
- almost limitless nib shapes (you can even buy wire blanks to create your own shapes)
- allow you to create the finest, tiniest details
What I don’t love about wire tip pyrography tools:
- Can be very expensive but there are some great reasonable options around $100
- not great if you have a heavy hand – the tips are delicate and you need to be gentle
- cleaning off the carbon buildup can be a timely chore
- bulky, not convenient to stow away after each use, not great for travel
You can’t go wrong getting a pyrography tool from any of the following companies. I’ve tried all of these models, and each is fantastic.
Razertip has high quality wood burning kits on the high end of the price scale.
I have the dual burner SS-D10 priced at about $324, that allows me to switch back and forth between two pens at the flick of a switch. I have been using it for years with the same quality burn as when I first got it.
They have some newer models, and have redesigned their pens, so they are totally worth checking out. I know several pyrographers who absolutely love their digital control and the new pen style.
The Colwood Super Pro Standard Kit at around $228 is a high quality tool with fantastic heat control, and gets hot super fast.
The cork handles are comfortable, and the tips are easy to change out with the tip puller that comes with the kit. I love all the tip options for this tool, and though I don’t own it, I have tried it out, and absolutely love how it burns.
The Optima 1 by PJL Enterprises is currently my favorite tool because it heats up very fast, has amazing temperature control, and the tips are very high quality.
The temperatures remain steady for a reliable burn. I got this kit to try it out because it is very affordable, and I am all about making pyrograph accessible. The price tag cannot be beat at $109 for a high quality burner, with one pen (additional pens are $20).
The dual burner is $149 and comes with 2 pens and two cables allowing you to change pens easily. This can save the connections on the pens, but I have not had any issues with my connectors wearing out with just one pen.
There are a few more professional wood burning tools out there, but these are the ones I have first hand knowledge of. I love them all.
Already have your pyrography tool, and want some project ideas?
Check out my Burn Boxes – self contained DIY wood burning kits with all you need (besides the tool) to create your own wood burned art project, with access to video tutorials that teach you how to do the specific project like this one: