A pyrographer’s closest companion is his wood burning pen. It allows them to burn the medium to create varying tonal lines, which results in fantastic works of art on a wooden piece.
Over time, you will notice that the pen stops functioning the same way it used to before. The tip starts to discolor, and it becomes increasingly difficult to burn even the basic patterns.
Why is that?
Unlike paper, wood is a rather tricky medium to work on. This is because most wood mediums contain resin that comes out of the pores once it’s heated. As you are burning the organic medium, it creates carbon which sticks to the tip of the wood burning pen.
Although it is not a big of an issue at first, but as you work keep on working on wood, the carbon starts to accumulate on the tip. This considerably reduces the pen’s efficiency.
In this article, we will learn how to clean wood burning tips using four easy methods. The techniques we mentioned will restore your wood burning tip back to its original state!
Why Cleaning Wood Burning Tips is Necessary?
Cleaning the tip of your wood burning pen is important. As you draw a layout using a wood burning pen, carbon starts to build up on the tip. The carbon build-up causes uneven burns, making your drawing imperfect.
Clearing the tip of carbon build-up is crucial for the longevity of the tip. Accumulation of carbon or dirt causes the tip to get damaged over time.
Also, it takes a considerable amount of time for carbon contaminated tips to reach the temperature required for wood burning.
A clean point will conduct heat more efficiently, allowing you to draw your pattern more smoothly.
How To Prevent Extra Carbon Build Up?
After using the same tip for quite some time, you will notice that the wood burning pen doesn’t quite function the same way as a new tip would. The lines will not be as precise and wood burning, in general, will be more difficult. This is when you know it’s time to clean them.
The best way to prevent the buildup of carbon is to use wood pieces that don’t contain retained sap. The rein or sap tends to escape from the pores when the wood is heated.
The sap then glues onto the burning tip and solidifies. This makes the tip almost unusable as there is a high chance it will ruin your art piece.
Tips on Cleaning Wood Burning Pen Effectively
There are several ways to get rid of the charcoal build-up from the tip of your wood burning pen. It is important that you clean your pen thoroughly and frequently. A clean point will give you excellent control and also makes the burning easier.
Here are some of the finest ways to clean the tip of a wood burning pen:
1. Using A Sandpaper
Sandpaper can be used to chip away old accumulated carbon from the tips. This method is pretty straightforward and can be done frequently.
- The first step is to make sure that your wood burning pen is switched off. If you have recently used the pen, allow it to cool off.
- Using a 320 grit paper, gently start sanding the tip. Try not to user rougher grades as they might wear the tip.
- Clean off any remaining charcoal bits using a damp cloth or a soft sponge.
2. High-Heat Method
It is possible to remove the residue from the pen by increasing the temperature to the max. The aim is to burn off the carbon residue and exposing the tip.
- Start by increasing the temperature of the equipment and let it sit for a while.
- After some time, you will notice that the accumulated carbon starts to chip off from the pen. The heat causes the solid residue to breakdown.
- Let it cool down and remove any traces of residue with a cloth.
3. Using A Tea Strainer
If you are looking for a non-abrasive way to clean the iron tips, a tea strainer is a perfect solution for you. It is an inexpensive solution that can get most of the carbon residue off without damaging the point.
- First, turn the strainer over and slightly flatten the bottom side.
- Then gently scrape the tip of the wood burning tool, moving it in circular motions. The residue will simply fall off, cleaning the tip.
4. Using A Polishing Burr
Polishing burr gives wood burning pen tips a deep clean. You have to use a rotary toolkit and attach a burr that is compatible with it. You need to be careful not to over polish the tip as this may cause it to start thinning over time. Polishing burr works best when used sparingly.
Here is how you can give your wood burning tool a deep clean:
- Power the rotary tool to the lowest setting. This will help you control the machine properly.
- Then hold the rotary tool in place. Try to be as steady as you can.
- Using the other hand, guide the point over the surface of the burr. The polishing burr will remove the carbon residue from the tip.
- Constantly check at regular intervals to make sure that the tip is being cleaned. If not, then keep polishing it until the surface of the tip is shiny again.
How to Change Tips on Wood Burning Tool
There comes a point where you might have to change the tip of your wood burner to create different patterns in your art piece. Changing the tips is important as you may have to do it multiple times during a single pyrography session.
Most wood burning tools have metal points that are screwed into it. They simply don’t pop in and out easily primarily due to safety reasons. To remove hot tips, needle-nose pliers can be very useful. Follow the steps below to remove the tips-
- Turn off the wood burning tool first.
- Hold a plier on one hand and the wood burner on the other.
- Then simply grab the tip with the plier and rotate the wood burning tool. Rotating the burner to the left loosens the tip whereas rotating it right will tighten it.
- After you have loosened the tip, remove it and put it in a bowl of cold water. This will instantly cool off the hot metal point.
- Finally, simply take the new tip and insert it in the tool.
Cleaning And Changing Wood Burning Tips- Cautions And Recommendations
1. Don’t Sand The Tips Excessively
Sanding the tip or polishing it roughly may cause them to thin out over time. Clean them if there is a considerable amount of carbon residue formed.
2. Never Leave A Wood Burning Tool Unattended
There is always a chance of accidentally leaving the wood burning tool switched on when not in use. The heat may damage the tip and its surroundings if not turned off. Always check to see if the tool has been switched off properly after use.
3. Wait For The Unit To Cool Down
Wood burning pens can retain heat for quite some time. The unit can remain hot for minutes after being turned off. If you are looking to remove any accumulated carbon residue, wait for the unit to cool down first. This will reduce the chance of any accidental burn injuries.
Also, avoid removing the tip while it is very hot. Pulling a hot tip using pliers may deform it as excessive heat can make the metal tip malleable.
4. Keep The Tips As Clean As Possible
Having a clean tip is the key to a great pyrography piece. You will notice a big difference when working with a clean tip and a carbon accumulated one. The latter makes even the lightest stroke to become black, which can ruin your art piece.
5. Cool Tips Using A Bowl Of Water
If you want to switch tips in the middle of your pyrography work, always keep a bowl of cold water ready. Use pliers to take them off quickly and put them in a bowl of water to cool them off.
This will prevent any risk of accidental burns. Make sure you dry the tips before reinserting into the wood burning tool.
6. Be Cautious When Using The Wood Burning Tool
The tip is not the only part that becomes hot. The barrel or the heating element also gets hot when the wood burning tool is switched on. Handle the tool with care and use a stand to hold the equipment.
Maintaining your wood burning pen tip will surely increase its longevity. By cleaning the accumulated carbon residue, you can restore them back to their brand new form.
A clean tip will result in a neat burning. This will allow you to slide your tips evenly, creating a consistent burn which is essential for a flawless artwork.
By practicing the techniques that we have mentioned, you can keep your pen in the best possible shape while doing your art pieces.
Be sure to check on them at regular intervals and keep an out for carbon build-ups. This way you can prevent heating inconsistencies and smudging which can ruin your artwork.
We hope that you’ve got enough information on how to clean wood burning tips and change them. Good luck with your next pyrography project!