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Joys of Woodburning and Woodcarving

Updated on June 11, 2012
artwork burned into wood using soldering iron
artwork burned into wood using soldering iron | Source

Here is another idea for gifts. Teenage boys and girls like their privacy and the main place that they want this is their bedroom. We have all seen the handiwork on the doors. 'Keep Out', 'NO Parents Alllowed!', 'NO Girls Allowed!'. I even remember our generation posting up those same signs on our doors.

Well, there comes a time when we sit down and have to think of a way that lets us into their lives a little bit; yet; at the same time keeps us from violating their space.

I recently came upon what seemed to be useless scrap pieces of wood. The pieces were only 1x6, and 2x6. These were end pieces that would otherwise be thrown into the burn pile. But, I had a wonderful idea to make up a door sign for my son's bedroom.

He is getting to the age where he wants to post up signs depicting his need for privacy. One of his biggest issues was that people would wander into his room, and assume that it was an open free area.

I bought a cheap little soldering iron to practice with. First thing I did was clean and sand the wood down with fine grain sandpaper. 180 to 240 grain to finish it off. Then I sketched my picture onto the wood. It took approximately 5 hours to complete the picture as my arms were very sore. Woodburning guns are shorter and made for better support on your tired arms; however; they are more expensive than a regular soldering iron.

My son came in and saw the picture. He didn't say anything about it other than that the picture was nice. (At this point he had no idea that the finished product would be for him)

drawing after the woodburning
drawing after the woodburning | Source

Sometimes, burning and etching into wood does not hide the pencil drawing. In the case of pencil marks showing, make sure you erase any pencil that is left behind. Be sure to use an eraser that doesn't smear. Some erasers will do that and that will mean you may have to use a little bit of fine grain sandpaper to lightly take it off.

All that is left to do is, their name and whatever warning they would like to have on it. I put 'Jamies Room - ALL OTHERS KEEP OUT!'

You will want to have your work protected from the natural aging process that would endures. A clear Varathane finish will enhance your work by bringing out the natural grain of the wood. Do not use a regular paint brush as the brush strokes show too much. Instead, use a foam brush. The first coat is always the worst because wood is porous and sucks it in. It takes forever to dry and it also raises the grain and feels rough. Once the first coat is completely dry, go over the project with some 220 grit paper wrapped around a sanding block. One or two light passes and it will feel much smoother. Repeat this with the second coat as well. Apply several coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next one.

In the past, I have used a rag to apply the varathane. If you apply a thin coat at a time and wipe it on with the rag, it works great and minimizes the raised grain. However; this system can prove to be very messy.


Now, with this one here in the picture to the right; I used a manual precision wood cutting kit. This was the first time I actually cut into the background of the picture to give it depth. The process was time consuming, and can be dangerous depending on what type of wood you use. Oak is hard to use even with an electric tool, like a dremel. Manual carving kits are more dangerous as you run the risk of the knife slipping and cutting you.

Draw your picture on beforehand and make sure you put in every detail that you want to cut into the wood. Lighting should be bright so that you can see everything clearly. Don't do this when you are tired or too relaxed.

Manual precision wood carving kit
Manual precision wood carving kit | Source

With these kits, one of the risks you have to watch out for is that the interchangeable parts can loosen up and fall out of the handle. However; if you are a watchful, careful person, this is a good kit to use.

It comes with two planers, wood sanding block, 3 handles, tweezers for those small intricate steps, and 23 plus blades.

Do not apply too much pressure to the blades as they can break under too much pressure.

With this picture, I made the error of not protecting the wood with the varathane right away. I left the wood for a while and time stained the wood. Not sure how or what it was. It could have been the trees natural sap.

Always sign your work of art. Try to do it as close to the picture as you can; or even hide it in the picture. I also date it with the year that I created the piece.

Tiger | Source


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    • landscapeartist profile image

      Roberta McIlroy 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      thank you peggy w for your compliment. my son does love the room sign. i want to make him another one for the house soon.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Really nice work! I'll bet that your son was thrilled with his personal room sign made by you. Voted this up and interesting. Would be fun to try sometime. I met an old high school friend of mine who does beautiful wood carving.

    • landscapeartist profile image

      Roberta McIlroy 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @JulianaDragoness. Thank you for stopping by my hub. I am glad that you enjoyed reading it. It definitely pays off in the end. I love it when my work is completed and it puts a smile on someones face.

    • JulianaDragoness profile image

      Mariah Aiken 5 years ago from Moncks Corner, South Carolina

      I love this one! Wood carving is the most unique of all arts!! It takes skill and patience but definitely pays off in the end.