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Pyrography 101 Tutorials - Pyrography Tips and Techniques by Nedra Denison

Nedra Denison's Pyrography 101 tutorials help pyrographers of all skill levels learn or enhance their skills in woodburning


"Pyrography 101 Tutorial" series was created, written and published on this website in 2002 by Nedra Denison. Nedra was the first to offer free online Pyrography tutorials which has grown over the years to offer comprehensive tutorials covering a variety of aspects of Pyrography.

"Pyrography 101", the printed book was written and published in 2003 by Nedra Denison.

Nedra Denison has been recognized as the originator of the "Pyrography 101" tutorials and title and should not to be confused with other pyrographers who have recently started using this title on their websites, blogs and videos for their own pyrography tutorials.

Remember you saw it here first....FREE ONLINE PYROGRAPHY TUTORIALS!

Nedra is the pioneer in creating free online tutorials to provide people with the means to learn Pyrography in the comfort of their own home. Others have copied but none have duplicated what Nedra created & has continued to develop over the years.



Everything you always wanted to know about pyrography or were afraid to ask right here with my free online Pyrography 101 tutorials! 

Don't forget to check out all my books, "Pyrography 101: A Lesson in Wood burning"; "Lifelike Pyrography from Photographs" and "The Art of Pyrography: Taking Wood burning to New Limits" for more detailed information and step-by-step instructions.

All of my books have been on Fox Chapel Publishers best seller list continuously since they were first published. 

Which Tutorials Should You Read?

Please do read this page completely.

Then, if you don't want to take the time to read through all the tutorials here's what to read & the order in which to read them. Read these in the order I have them listed but definitely read items 1-4! the rest are optional.

  1. How Pyrography Systems Work & the Wattage Controversy - This is where you can find out about wattage claims made by manufacturers, mixing different brands of pens & burners & what to expect when you do. This is a must read before you buy your tools!
  2. Razertip - Everything you need to know including tip styles & uses, answers to questions you have & answers to questions you probably never thought of. This is a must read before you order a burner & before you dive into burning with your new Razertip once you order it.
  3. Pyrography Safety - This is the most important & gotta read! I suggest you read this while you are waiting for your new burner to arrive.
  4. Pyrography from A to Z - Learn some basics before you start. Another great tutorial to read while you are waiting for your new burner to arrive.
  5. Using Photographs as Patterns - For more natural life-like burning
  6. Using Color with Pyrography - For those who want to add color to their burnings
  7. Nibsburner, Colwood, Optima & other similar brands - A good generic tutorial on care & maintenance of your pyrography tools.
  8. Works in Progress - step-by-step projects


Yeah, call me crazy but my goal is to provide people with enough information to help them get started and to learn in the comfort of their own home. I started these free tutorials back in 2002 when I created this website. Like my book Pyrography 101, it was a compilation of hand-outs I gave out in my classes as a means of giving people something to have at home and keep as a reference as they began their journey. After getting so many requests from people for information on wood burning I decided it was a great way to reach people who could not attend my classes and so I started putting all that information on my website as a tutorial. As my hand-outs grew so did these tutorials.

Some people said I was crazy for giving away all this free information.  While most everyone else was thrilled at having access to all this free information at their fingertips some even started their own online tutorials. A fellow in our woodcarving club, who also teaches, said to me "why on earth would people buy your book if you give away all this free information on your site". My response to him was that I do it because I love wood burning and want to share my passion with others. My goal has always been to help people learn as much as possible about wood burning any way I can. I knew that not everyone could attend my classes and I want people to have the opportunity to learn and give them access to as much information as possible to help get them started. I guess I'm not so crazy because now many others have started offering free online tutorials. The best part of these tutorials is that I can update them anytime which is something that can't be done once a book is published. So, as something comes to mind that I have not included in these tutorials already I update these tutorials giving you the best up-to-date information possible. 

My tutorials will provide people with opportunities to learn more about pyrography, including techniques, safety precautions, wood selection and preparation, wood burning pens and their uses and more. I will also include some works in progress to help you visualize a project from start to finish. 

Some of the information in these tutorials are in my books but the books are more like taking my hands-on class with step-by-step instructions that are not available in the tutorials. Here's just some of the information you will find in the tutorials.

Things to consider when buying Pyrography tools

I do not have a tutorial on this subject for a reason, it's a complicated decision-making process and everyone has an opinion.  I have used just about every brand of woodburner on the market and have sold all but one of the other brands in the past so I have experience with just about every major player in North America. What I have found over the years is that most burning units (the power) are basically the same, they use a transformer. Some have a bit more power than others. What I have also found is that more power isn't necessarily better because you usually don't need it. So I tell people to forget the power and wattage claims of the companies and buy based on what you need. Generally speaking as a pyrographer you will probably use mostly the mid range on the burner anyway. The best burning is done in layers rather than scorching it using a poker hot tip. Using the lowest setting on the burner to accomplish the task is the best and building on the tones to get the deep rich tones when you need it.

Although I have not done a specific tutorial to help you choose a pyrography tool, I have compiled a review of most of the pyrography tools manufactured in North America. Click here to go to the Pyrography wood burning tools review and comparison page.

Things you need to really consider when buying a unit are:

  • The company's reputation, customer service, reliability, price, warranty and does the company make the pens that will meet your needs. Most of these things will come from talking to other pyrographers but most will not know how the company deals with problems (unless they have had a problem) and most will only know how their burner performs and not necessarily how reliable the product is overall. Many will say their burner is the best but how does it compare with others. Unless those users have used all the others how can they compare. 
  • How does the company handle problems or complaints. 
  • How do the pens they get hot or remain warm. 
  • My chief concern when I consider a burner: whether for personal use or for sale, is the "after sale service". If I (or a customer) have a problem is the manufacturer going to bend over backwards to resolve my problem or am I going to get lip service. 
  • Some companies put disclaimers on the warranty such as "manufacturing defects". Well, what is a manufacturing defect and who determines that? I guess that depends on the company and whether they really want to stand by their product and take care of the customer or whether they just want to sell products and don't care about what happens after the sale. Dealers are just that, they sell the product but the manufacturer is the one responsible for taking care of problems with the tools when there is a problem. If they don't do that or are slow then you want to stay away from them.  How do you find out, well that's another story. You have to ask others who have the product or the company you bought it from and hope that they will be honest with you.
  • Don't get talked into buying more than you need. One of the biggest problems with dealers is talking customers into buying more pens/tips than they need. Overall you can accomplish just about anything with no more than 3 or 4 tips. So, don't get talked into buying more UNLESS you really need them. If you're new to wood burning you really won't know if you need them so if a dealer suggests more than the basic necessities say thank you and walk away. 
  • To get started get the basics (an all purpose shader, writer and my recommendation of a round-heeled knife). I always recommend the most versatile ones in each category and I strongly recommend buying only POLISHED TIPS. You don't need 2 shaders so buy the one that will do the most. I recommend "MY" Bent Spear Shader because it is far more versatile than the round, square or spoon. Why, because it can get into tight spots, can do lines, calligraphy and so much more. The same goes for the others. In addition to the burner and pens you MUST also have some thing to clean the tips. I recommend a straight-edged razor to clean off the excess gunk and then a strop and aluminum oxide to polish the tips. If you do this your tips can last a lifetime. I have my original bent spear shader that I have used constantly for almost 10 years and it looks and performs like one that is brand new.

Over the years I have used and sold several brands of burners and most I stopped selling for one major reason...poor customer service or quality control by the manufacturer...or sometimes both. I figure if they don't give me good service what are they going to do for my customers if there is a problem? I have consistently had great service and support from Razertip which is why I have been selling it for over 8 years. Most burners perform well and while I have never had a problem with my own burners, there are those customers who occasionally have had problems have had them taken care of immediately, not 3 weeks or 3 months from now as some companies do. While I have not been using or selling Nibsburner as long as Razertip I have to say that they are right up there in customer support with Razertip. Alice has been bending over backwards to take care of my needs just as Razertip does and they both understand the importance of quality service and products. While Alice hasn't been at it as long as Razertip she is working hard at making a quality product.

So, I urge you to do some homework when shopping for a woodburner and don't just buy because you got the best deal.  If you get help in making your decision regarding the purchase of a burner from a trusted dealer please be sure to support that dealer by purchasing your products from them...whether it be me or someone else. 

Pyrography tools tutorials...The Nibsburner and Razertip tutorials provide you with a wealth of information that can be used with just about any brand of pyrography tools such as Optima, Detailmaster and Nibsburner. I have also included a list of FAQ's for Nibsburner and Razertip.

You will also find information on how to clean the tips, photos of some of the most frequently used pens along with samples of some of the things you can do with each pen. There is also a tutorial on the single temperature (solid point) burners as well.

Safety...Anyone who knows me, knows that safety is one of my pet peeves. Please do not rely on the recommendation of other people without researching it yourself. Just because people are expert pyrographers or gourd artists does not mean they are experts in other fields such as chemistry, toxicology, etc. Please be safe and keep pyrography a safe art form. Don't risk your health or that of others in your household for a shortcut!

For help with burning on gourds please check out my new Gourd Pyrography Tutorial.

Classes...After 10 years of teaching I have finally decided to get back to my passion....doing my art and have retired from teaching.

My goal on this site is to reach out to anyone interested in learning more about pyrography and provide them with some basic information. If you have any ideas or suggestions for my tutorials please feel free to contact me.  I'd love to hear from you and I will be sure to give you credit for any additions that are used in these tutorials.

This page was last updated 11/6/14

Happy Burning©!

Nedra Denison signature.

"Pyrography 101" Copyright Information

No portion of the printed book "Pyrography 101" or the web pages containing "Pyrography 101 Tutorials" or any of the "Gourd Crafting 101 Tutorial" may be copied, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior permission of the original author, publisher and copyright owner, Nedra Denison. 

Material from this site may not be, in part or in whole be distributed, redistributed, published, republished, copied, reproduced, altered or modified and sold; posted on the websites, blogs or other internet sites or otherwise made available to others in any form for any purposes whatsoever without prior permission.

"Pyrography 101" is a registered domain name owned by this website and the original author of the book by the same name, Nedra Dension. The registered domain name, title of the book, it's contents and tutorial series, "Pyrography 101" are owned by Nedra Denison and are protected under the law.   

"Pyrography 101" is the original title of the book and online pyrography tutorial series, "Pyrography 101" that was created, written, originated and published on this website in 2002 and in print in 2003  by the artist and author, Nedra Denison. Nedra Denison has been recognized as the originator of the "Pyrography 101" title and should not to be confused with other pyrographers who attempt to use this title for their own pyrography lessons or tutorials on their websites and videos.