August 30, 2019

Best Wood For Pyrography

Pyrography decorates art on the wood surface with a burning mark using heated objects such as a metal rod heater.  It is designed by burning the wood with a heated metal point or like poker. This has been a history practiced by Egyptian culture and African tribes, and it was known in ancient China as “Fire Needle Embroidery.”

Pyrography boomed in the Victorian era, and the term “pyrography” was coined. It has previously widely been known as “pokerwork.” The word pyrography breaks into two parts from the Greek nation, and “Pyro” comes from the word “Pur,” a Greek word that means fire, and “Graphy” comes from the word “Graphos,” meaning the act of writing.

A heated metal implement has performed traditional pyrography. Many machines exist in three categories like a) solid point burners, b) wire nib burners c) laser cutters.

A perfect pyrography depends on different things, firstly and mostly the skill required, and then comes with the materials required to perform it. The surface where you will perform the art must be soft and easy to burn type but balanced. Here are some woods that can relate to pyrography, and analysis will tell the perfect matching.

Shortlist of the Best Wood For Pyrography



Basswood is a class of 30 types of trees from the mostly temperate northern hemisphere. It’s also known in North America and Europe as linden and lime tree. Basswood is very light, soft, and easy to work types, and this is grained and odorless with a nice texture and natural luster. This wood is effortless to dry.

This wood is also good for pyrography. No resin with great texture and cleanliness gives a fine look to the art. It is very economical and very available. It’s easy to glue, easy to cut, easy to sand, and easy to shape. It’s controllable. But sometimes, its softness can be tough for hard art or decoration.

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Mahogany is strong and heavy wood, and this is primarily straight-grained and reddish. There are three types of mahogany like Honduran, west Indian, and Swietenia humilis. This is widely popular for the use of furniture. Its dark reddish and brown color beautifies the furniture at best. It’s very durable because of its hardness.

Its dark color sometimes overshadows the art. Most of the time, this type of wood is used for name art only. Its color faded sometimes and changed the surface texture often. But if you can choose faded wood, then it can work sometimes. Also, this wood is costly to purchase.

Birch Plywood

This is a unique type of wood because of its veneer core which crosses banded and laminated exterior glue. This birch belongs to Europe’s northeastern region, and this is widely popular for cabinet making. There are two types one is Baltic, and the other one is Russian.

It’s also known as the panel for an artist. It is clean and vibrant with attractive looks. It has grain favorable to art. This is also very economical and easy to cut and easy to shape. It’s thick, and its clean surface focuses the art most. If mistakes are made, it’s tough to overwrite this surface. Solid piece of wood is more popular rather than plywood, and this is more like Basswood.

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european alder

This is a genus of 35 species of monoecious trees. It is hard and nice to burn. No resin and the fresh outlook are perfect for any art to perform. But this wood is not wide enough. And it’s very grainy, which sometimes causes trouble for art. It is neither expensive nor very economical. It is more in midrange budgeted wood. Because of its hardness, it’s more durable.

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Balsa Wood

Balsa Wood

This is more flower plants type of wood. It contains the species Ochroma pyramidale, which is known as the balsa tree. This wood has no grains. These woods are harvested after growth of six to ten years. Balsa is considered the strongest wood in the world. It is light but strong, and this is the specialty of this wood. It has a pretty good surface and thin trips.

It has no resin. It is soft and straightforward to give shape, easy to cut. This is also very economical to purchase and practice. Clean color also makes the art very attractive on its surface. But this is not ready to go wood, and it has to be prepared. And this has a deficient variant of size available. This wood is mostly used in practice. Because of thickness, sometimes the burning tip sinks into the wood.

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Beech Wood

This wood belongs to Europe, Asia, and North America.  This is also a hard and strong wood. This is white color wood, but sometimes it colors reddish while growing on acid soil. It’s finely grained. It is smooth. This surface hardness sometimes makes the work hard to burn and art.

This is mid-range premium budgeted wood for pyrography. This wood is not famous among pyrography artists.

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Cherry Wood

Cherry wood is mostly famous for its super-bending features. It’s not that hard as others and widely used for cabinet making, molding, and millwork. It does also not belong to the favorite cart of pyrography art. It’s dark, which may not highlight the art performed on its surface. This has no resin and is available in different colors.

And this wood can cost the pyrography a bit high because it is famous for other purposes. Mostly this wood has been used for practice purposes. It’s more like maple wood. Artists may find it super easy because of its smoothness.

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Hickory Wood

Hickory belongs to the nature of Carya. Worldwide there are nineteen species available, mostly in North America and the rest are in Asia. Hickory is the hardest and strongest wood. This wood is widely used for its best special feature of shock resistance. There are lots of color variations in a wood surface, which may cause little trouble for pyrography. Too many grains also bother the art as pleasant. This is very economical to purchase.

Maple Wood

Maple wood is mostly found in Asia. There are 128 species of it. This is strong and great in looks. It stains great. It’s very much attractive for its color, smooth grain, nice texture, and durability by nature. It comes from a sugar maple tree with white color rounded with a brown-reddish hue and is mostly used for furniture, cabinets, and sports equipment.

Because of its super attractiveness, this is a little costly but worth money.  Less grain and light color with no resin, this hard surface is popular for pyrography. And importantly, on this surface, it’s straightforward to fix the mistakes done.

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Oak Wood

Also, the most popular woods for furniture and other craftsmanship. This is hard but not like maple wood. But it’s durable and well; stained. This wood has a great texture. Though it’s popular for other purposes, it doesn’t cost as much as others. White oak is stronger than red oak, and this becomes darker with time because of oxygen and UV light.

This can cause a little damage to the art performed on its surface. There is a wide saying that this wood has much moisture, making unnecessary sap bubbles and getting the art messy. It’s not the best wood by nature to art or wood burn. This is dark, and lots of color variations may not highlight the artwork on its surface. Oak is economical to purchase and mostly available.

Pacific Albus

It’s more like Balsa Wood. Low grain, light color, no resin, and softness is perfect for pyrography. It’s very easy to art on the albus surface. This is hardwood, and this wood has a fine texture that looks better with the art. And this wood is effortless to glue, easy to boring and turning and sanding also. It is hypoallergenic. It is lightweight, so very comfortable to move.

Pine Wood

Pine is a common wood for pyrography. But there is so much not to love. Yellow pines fail to give a proper finish to the art. And it’s hard to art because of its different grains. It’s pretty resinous. It is light in color, and it’s soft and easy to control or embossed lines.

Fewer features but widely common for pyrography. But white pine is suitable for all sites to burn, and it’s cleaner and smooth. Art on the white pine wood surface looks gorgeous and attractive, and it is durable and economical to purchase.          

Poplar Wood

North American Hardwood Poplar is good alternatives for many kinds of wood, costing more than 2 or 3 times. This is white, and creamy yellow can sometimes be brownish in appeal. The name “Poplar” comes from ancient Rome, and Romans used to plant this tree in public spaces, and that how the name “populous” comes, and then the name got the form of Poplar.

This is reviewed and liked as the most popular one for pyrography. This wood is straightforward to resize. Soft grains are perfect for wood art. It burns very quickly, and it’s so accessible. The color is a light, hard surface, gouge resistant, and economical to purchase is an ideal wood for pyrography. Most artists recommend these woods for pyrography. This surface allows fixing the mistakes. The little resinous and hard surface can heat back the pen or poker.      


Redwood is industrial wood, and this wood has chemicals inside, and it’s much more durable than any other wood. There are three types of redwood, a) Coast redwoods, b) Giant sequoias, c) Dawn redwoods.

Its exposure is oily and bothers the artist to art on its surface. But this wood is easy to burn and requires a lower heat to burn. It has grains but not others and is favorable to art and burn. This wood will cost a little much because of its availability and its hard and strong wood.

Overall a perfect condition for perfect pyrography is light color hardwoods so that it never sinks the burning pen on it. It has to be low grains and favorable to art, and it is to be remembered that never to burn on finished wood or anything made of plastic.

Choosing a smooth surface with a great light texture is easy to burn. Also, correctly preparing the wood makes differences for pyrography, making significant differences on the wood surface. So sometimes, you can ruin a good wood surface because of poor preparation.

Also, there are different types of art, personality, and choices, making the wood preference different. But after analyzing the above discussion concerning the features of the woods, Poplar, Basswoods, Birch Wood are more suitable for pyrography. And rest depends on the artist’s preferences. If you are starting your wood-burning journey, you should also read our post on How to Clean Wood Burning Pens | Easy Method.

David D. Hughes
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