Wood Burning or "Pyrography" Tools
The older units were like a soldering iron
where the heat coil, pen and tip were all one unit, quite heavy
and hard to handle. The newer units have a separate control box,
power line (heavy
and light duty cables) and wood burning pen... thus the pen
is independent and much lighter. Decide which pen is right for you,
..trading off price for ease of use.
If you are going to get truly involved in
wood burning it is not inconceivable that you might work for a couple
of hours at a time. With that in mind, make sure that the pen is
lightweight and easy to hold on to, or with time you'll find hand
cramps become a frequent complaint. The finger rests must insulated
your from the burners heat and allow you to hold the pen close enough
to the tip that you have good control for fine detailing. Check
to see if it feels balanced. Does the cord connection allow for
easy handling, while you're still plugged in? Does it have enough
flex without creating a lot of drag while using the pen?
The Pen Tips:
change the pen tips, for more design control, tool manufacturers
use one of two methods. Either the entire pen + tip separates from
the power cable, and thus changed or... just the tip is removed
from the pen holder and changed (usually it is held into place with
a small screw or friction fit).
In this style of nib, just the tip removes
from the pen holder and a different shaped tip can be inserted.
.....Is this a universal fitting so that you can use tips from various
manufacturers, or is it a proprietary connection that will only
receive its own tips. In the latter case, check out the selection
of tips available to make sure, you will be able to buy the ones
It is also important
to analyse the connection - tip to pen. Often these connections
can wear rapidly, if you change your tips often, resulting in poor
temperature control from power unit to tip. Since this is also the
part of the tool that heats up, the temperature change can negatively
affect the connection as well, creating frustration in attaching
new tips if you are in the middle of a project...... ask alot of
questions and try them out.
Usually you use an
interchangeable tip pen when the tip is very specialized and used
infrequently or for only light duty jobs. ..ie. buying a special
tip for writing your signature on your work, or a calligraphy bit
for that odd occasion, when you want to add some lettering. It gives
you great flexibility at a reasonable price.... tips are usually
less than $5.00 a piece.
Pen + Tip:
This design is more expensive, since the pen
plus the tip come as one unit. The pens are changed at the pen-power
cable junction or at the power control unit. Like the "tip
only" variety the connection is often propietary, so make sure
the unit's manufacturer also has the pen tip designs you want...
Fixed tip pens are more reliable, since you
are not connecting and disconnecting the electrical fittings of
the fragile pen tips..... the fitting is at the power cable end
of the pen. If you like to change your pen tips often this may be
a better choice for your "frequently used" tips.
Often you have a choice between a standard pen and a heavy duty
one. The standard is usually a little lighter/thinner and thinner
tip wire. It will heat up faster and generally be easier on the
hands but.... if you are finding that your tips break often, a heavy
duty pen may be called for... especially with "shaders".
Heavy duty pens have heavier wire tips, thus they break less frequently
.. for "heavy" burning or with "heavy handed"
artists a HD pen will always outlast a regular duty, particularly
in a school.
...... some tip styles -->
It looks like a felt tip pen and used for fine details and crosshatching.
It uses a lower temperature for good control when creating long
fine lines of uniform width.
This tip is similar to the "fine point" in overall appearance but
is much huskier. It is used in heavier dot shading, and thicker,
deeper line work.
This tip looks more like a small spoon with the end bent up. It
is used for shading of large areas, often only available in the
heavy duty style.
Many other tips are available, just ask for
a demonstration of the more specialized ones. Then
make sure that you know how to clean
your pen for extended life.