best wood for pyrography

Best Wood for Pyrography? (18 Types of Wood Reviewed!)

Maplewood is the best wood for pyrography. Poplar wood is strikingly similar to Maplewood but it’s lighter on the pockets. Willow, Poplar, Basswood, Birch, Balsa, Ashwood, Cherry, and Sycamore wood slices can be used to create awesome Pyrography art pieces.

Ideally, you want wood that’s lighter in color and has almost no grain on the surface. The grainy surface distorts the design.

I analyzed the grain, smoothness, and color. I’ll also let you guys know the ease of availability of each type of wood.

If you burn designs on Light-colored hardwoods with subdued grain patterns they show clearly. The contrast is crucial in pyrography.

Amateurs would wanna work on softer wood pieces. If you’re in the US, you can find most of the above-listed wood nearby.

Don’t use wood if

So, what kind of wood should you steer clear of? Listed below are characteristics of wood that are unsuitable for pyrography.

  • Don’t use any dark, resinous, or grainy woods. You’ll find it hard to design on such wood.
  • Timber has an uneven/rough surface. Don’t use it.
  • Stay away from any wood that’s been treated with a finish or has any chemical in it. Such wood emits fumes when burned using the pyrography pen.
  • This is why you stay away from reclaimed wood/MDF boards.
  • Don’t use any wood piece that has too many color variations in it.

Best Wood for Pyrography UK

Pine, Balsawood, Beech, Birch, Sycamore, and Basswood are available in the UK. It is easy to burn designs on all these woods.

You can find unfinished blank wood squares on Amazon or your local craft shop. Choose the wood according to your need.

For example, wood slices are round as they’re horizontal pieces of the tree. One can make fine art pieces out of these.

Use Balsawood if you’re just starting out in Pyrography. If you wanna use Pine, use white Pine as the design will be clearer.

Maple Wood for Pyrography

Maple wood is considered the best type of wood for pyrography, thanks to its subtle grain. The wood is light to medium in color.

Its subtle grain accentuates all the intricate details of the design you make. Maple wood is quite costly and this is probably the reason why beginners choose the alternatives.

Maple wood is quite hard, this is why you need to choose a high-quality pyrography pen to make designs. You’d need to put heat on 6-7 to achieve good results on Maple.

Poplar Wood for Pyrography

Yes, Poplar wood is used for pyrography. Poplar wood is reasonably priced and its light color tone is suitable for the art. Poplar wood has an unobtrusive, grainy texture which helps you design flawlessly.

Poplar wood has almost the same characteristics as Maple wood but it is cheaper. Burn patterns show up clearly on Poplar.

When buying Poplar wood make sure to check for sap/resin spots on the wood. Check for color streaks on the wood too.

You wouldn’t want to find them on a wood piece that you want to make designs on.

Basswood for Pyrography

Yes, Basswood can be used for pyrography. Basswood is a favorite of seasoned pyrographers because of its light color and minimal grain. The designs can be seen clearly.

Basswood is softer compared to the other types of wood. This is also the reason why some may find it harder to work with, especially if the design is meticulous.

A variety of wood-burning techniques can be used on Basswood, so this is an advantage too.

Beech Wood for Pyrography

Yes, Beechwood can be used for pyrography. Beechwood is quite economical compared to both Poplar and Maple. Some don’t seem to like the ‘dash’ grain pattern of Beechwood.

Beechwood is light-colored but often oozes sap when burned. It is hard to find Beechwood panels at local stores.

Is Pine Good for Pyrography?

Yes, White and Yellow Pine are used in Pyrography. Most people agree with me that Yellow Pine is harder to work with due to variations in the pattern.

Use Pine only for lettering work. Don’t use this wood if you are planning to work on complex designs. The details won’t show up clearly.

Pine has a high resin/sap content in it. When burning on the wood you’d see bubbles popping out thanks to the resin content.

Birch Wood for Pyrography

Birchwood is quite soft and is used widely by pyrographers thanks to its light color and minimal grain.

Birchwood has a nice blonde color to it and it is unmatched. Birchwood burns like Basswood and you can get your hands on this wood at your local store.

Birchwood is available as large sheets of plywood, this makes it very economical especially to us Pyrocrafters. Be wary though, as it splinters if you burn deeply.

Is Cedar Good for Pyrography?

Most people keep away from Cedar and rightly so. Cedar is known to cause irritation when burned, which is definitely not ideal.

Western Red Cedar has been known to cause Asthma in some. This is why many pyrographers don’t use this wood in their crafts.

Tip: Get thrifty alternatives like Beechwood or Pine for your projects.

Is Willow Good for Pyrography?

Willow is just perfect for pyrography but quite hard to get your hands on this wonderful piece of wood.

It burns smoothly in medium heat. The color is light and looks creamy, a perfect background for burning designs.

The wood has a smooth grain that is almost invisible. If only I could find more wood than I usually find in my local stores.

Is Acacia Wood good for Pyrography?

Yes, people burn designs on Acacia wood. I’ve heard that one can make great designs on Acacia wood, designs that pop out.

Acacia wood is used to make chopping boards and chopping boards are coated with food-safe oil. Food-safe oil brings out the burn.

Is Balsa Wood good for Pyrography?

Balsawood is light in color and has minimal grain. This wood is smooth when burnt and is a good choice for amateurs.

Balsawood is for you if you’re thrifty. It is easier on the pockets when compared with most other types of wood on this list.

Balsa can be found in the nearby craft stores. Balsawood might sink when burning as it’s soft, so be delicate when burning designs onto it.

Is Ash Wood Good for Pyrography?

Yes, Ashwood can be used for Pyrography. Ashwood comes in white color too, overall pyrography is doable on this wood.

Ashwood is quite hard so you may need to use high-quality burning pens and use higher temperatures. Test on a small piece of wood before you design something bigger.

Is Bamboo Wood Good for Pyrography?

Yes, you can burn designs onto Bamboo wood. You can make designs on chopping boards made from Bamboo.

Bamboo chopping boards have glue in them which might lead to fumes when you try to burn a design on it. Sand the surface of the board before crafting.

You may wanna be outdoors when working on bamboo chopping boards as it releases fumes. Work in a well-ventilated room if you don’t fancy outdoors.

Is Olive Wood Good for Pyrography?

Yes, you can burn designs onto Russian Olivewood. It is not easy to get your hands on Russian Olivewood.

Olivewood is quite hard so you might need to burn twice to make the design clearly visible. It looks wonderful once done well.

Is Cherry Wood Good for Pyrography?

Yes, you can burn designs onto Cherry wood. Cherry wood is a type of hardwood. Cherry wood is smooth and grain is minimal.

When working with Cherry wood, set the heat to 6 or 7 for the best results. Cherry wood won’t give you a hard time.

The slices of Cherry wood have different color variations and this can be a problem for pyrographers. You can craft a masterpiece if you can manage this.

Is Plywood Safe for Pyrography?

No, I advise not to burn designs on Plywood. There’s just too much glue in plywood to get the design right. 

Many people told me that the designs on plywood warp after a month or two. The oils in plywood burn unevenly, spoiling the project.

Get some Sycamore or other thrifty alternative but don’t use plywood if you value your time/skill.

Aspen wood for Pyrography

Aspen wood is a hardwood and can be used in Pyrography projects. Working on Aspen wood is the same as working on Cherry wood.

Set the heat to about 5-6 on your Pyrography pen and you can design flawlessly. I love working on Aspen wood pieces.

There are a lot of color variations in the slices of Aspen wood and this makes it hard to work with this wood.

There’s almost no grain to this wood it feels like writing on paper. You can choose slabs(vertical tree cuts) over slices(round cuts) just avoid color variations.

Is MDF Good for Pyrography?

No, don’t use MDF boards for pyrography. It is considered unsafe to use MDF boards in pyrography projects.

MDF boards release fumes when you burn a design on them. It’s better to sit idle than burn designs onto MDF boards.

MDF was designed to resist mold, rot, and mildew. It’s manufactured by adding a variety of chemicals which are bad for you.

There are other thrifty alternatives like the ones I mentioned above.

Can You Do Pyrography On Varnished Wood?

No, don’t do pyrography on varnished wood. Varnished wood releases fumes upon burning which is not at all ideal.

We usually apply finish/sealant after pyrography. Why would you wanna work on a wood piece that’s has a finish already?

If you want to work on varnished wood so badly, sand off the finish and proceed. Make whatever design you wish on it.

The fumes varnished wood releases upon burning cause irritation to you. You might want to wear a mask before you work on such wood.

I’d advise you to choose another thrifty alternative instead of working with varnished wood.

Sycamore Wood for Pyrography

You can use Sycamore wood for pyrography. English Sycamore can be used without a doubt for pyrographic purposes.

Sycamore wood can be used if for some reason you can’t find/don’t want to use Ash or Pinewood slices in your project.

Happy Crafting 🙂