Thursday, 3 March 2016

Burning your turnings...

It's not a post about what to do with stuff you've made that your not happy with, although I'd have to admit I've made things and thought 'There's another piece for the fire'

No this is about adding a bit of detail to turned wood using some wire and a bit of friction, sometimes having the contrast between light and dark is a nice addition to a piece and an easy way to make wood dark is to burn it.

I've dabbled with pyrography and sometimes it's worked and sometimes it hasn't, recently I made a book mark for my wife from a piece of Cherry root, it worked quite well, and I'm happy with how it looks, and my wife likes it as well.

Bookmark -

Not the most complex design.

The detail on the bookmark was made using a pyrography tool, a handy thing to have and they can be picked up quite cheaply, the one I have is useful as I can also use it for soldering just by changing a tip, saves having several tools lying about.

Pyrography kit -

I'm still experimenting with it.

However this is about turned wood as I said, now you can add some detail by holding a bit of wood to your turning whilst it's spinning, hardwood works best, but a burning wire is also good for adding a bit of detail, and they are easy to make, and it's fun experimenting with different types of wire.

It's not a garrotte - 

It's not for cutting cheese either, although it would work.
The idea is simple, with the wood spinning on the lathe (higher speeds are better) you hold the wire to the wood and friction does the rest, the result is a nice dark line in the wood, yes rings are what you'll get, but sometimes they are enough, a couple of dark rings on the head of a wooden mallet make it more than just a tool for bashing things.

Here's a couple of pots I made with the same kind of wood, I've added some rings to them using one of the burning wires I made.

Pot 1 - 

Not sure about this one to be honest.

Pot 2 - 

I prefer this one out of the two.

As you can see it does add a bit of extra interest, and it's something I plan on experimenting with more, but for now here's how I made the burning wires.

Choose you wire, I've used fairly thick copper wire, steel garden wire and the kind of wire you get in those picture hanging kits, the twisted steel stuff, this works really well.

What do you need ? wire and a bit of wood, I used dowel -

easy ingredients.

Cut your wood in half, then find the centre of each bit and drill a hole, not too big, but big enough to get the wire through at least twice, that's the handles done.

Dowel cut and drilled - 

Easy enough.

Next take your wire and cut a length of it about 12 inches long and thread it through the holes in the wood, then loop it round and thread it back through the hole, try and leave at least 8 inches between each handle.

Like so - 

I find it stops the wire coming out of the wood.
If any wire is sticking out of the wood cut it off, I also used a staple to add a bit of extra security, you do have to apply a bit of pressure to the wire and you don't want it slipping out of the wood and wrapping round the lathe.

Staple for extra hold - 

Better safe than sorry.

And that's it really, not very complicated, I'm sure there are other ways of making something like this, this is just the way I do it, I haven't looked to see if you can buy purpose made burning wires, but I'm pretty sure you can make one for less money, I've made 3 now, all from scrap wood and wire.

All done, now to burn - 

Ready for burning.

When it comes to using the wire I like to make a small groove in the wood, just a slight mark so that the wire will sit in it, I just find it helps to stop things slipping about especially if you're adding detail to a piece that has a curve to it.

Grooves marked - 

Higher speeds work better as the heat builds up quicker.

And that's it, I've found that after a couple of uses the wires blacken and this helps to add a nice even colour to the wood, I would also advise wearing a mask and eye protection as it can get very smoky, ventilation is also a good idea.

So far I've found that it's a nice a simple way to add a bit of interest to a piece, even if it is just a Pine tea light holder.

Slightly more interesting than a plain one - 

Better make another one.

Thanks for reading.

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