Every pyrographer needs to know how to clean wood burning tips in order to preserve the integrity of the tool tips and improve their lifespan.
As much as it is enjoyable and much more efficient to use a fresh tool straight out of the box each time, it is not practical.
This is why it is crucial to regularly clean and maintain your tools to keep them working at their optimal performance. Pyrography tools are no exception, they need to go through the same process.
Pyrography is the art of drawing and writing free-hand using a burning tool to engrave designs onto wood, leather, and other materials. There are various tool tips used to achieve this.
Each nib or tip is better suited to specific styles in pyrography and the material to be burned into.
There are mainly two distinct types of tools:
- Wire nibs
- Solid points
Using the correct methods on how to clean wood burner tips will preserve the life of these delicate burning nibs.
Do You Need To Clean Wood Burning Tips?
This is because when wood burns, like any organic material that is burned, the by-product of that reaction is carbon residue (which is black in color). This sticks to the tip of the heated pen.
The carbon build-up absorbs most of the heat being produced. This means that to make enough heat to cause a burn in the material, the heat has to be increased every time to get the same burn as the previous use.
Furthermore, without cleaning, the accumulated carbon causes the tip to make askew burns. This tarnishes the patterns and the efficiency of your sketching.
Hence one has to be vigilant in maintaining your tool to ensure it works as best as it can.
So let’s find out how to clean wood burning tool tips the right way, and the not so correct methods.
How To Clean Wood Burning Tips Correctly
There are many methods used to clean the tip of the wood burner tool. Many were formed because of their ease of use.
But be wary as there are some methods that, over time, will only damage the tool tip.
Here are some methods on how to clean a wood burning tool – both recommended and non-recommended.
Recommended Tool Tip Cleaning Methods
How to clean wood burning tips – 3 highly recommended methods that will cause the least damage to your wood burning tool tips.
Highest Heat Setting
Increased heat when cleaning pyrography tips usually seems to be the most recommended.
The process is quite simple really. Increase the heat to the pen’s maximum setting, this then aids in the peeling or loosening of the carbon from the tip.
After that, simply switch it off. Take a soft cloth to wipe off carbon residue from the pen tip, to remove any residue left.
We explain how to clean wood burning tips with paraffin wax –
one of the most recommended methods of cleaning pen tips.
Increase your heat setting to the maximum to remove any loose material. Dip the tip of the pen in the paraffin wax while it’s still hot, give it time to quickly burn off, and turn off the burner.
When the tip has cooled off, take a paper towel and wipe the residue wax off of the tip.
This cleaning method requires you to clean your pyrography pen in the manner you would use for sharpening knives.
Apply some aluminum oxide to your leather strop and then rub your tip along that patch of the strop.
Use gently and with regular strokes.
This process also works to polish the tip as it cleans the carbon off.
Non-Recommended Tool Tip Cleaning Methods
N.B All of the following methods will eventually lead to damage to your nib.
The following methods showcase how to clean wood burning tips the incorrect way. Use these methods with caution.
Another non-recommended method to clean your pyrography tools is using sandpaper to remove carbon residue from tips. Not only is it rough, but it extensively eats away the tips of your pen over time.
What is even worse is that people equate higher grit to quicker and ease of removal. However, that is not usually the case.
Higher grit equates to weakening of the tip which eventually leads to its breakage. Sandpaper does not only thin the tip of the pen, but also reshapes the tip.
This works the same as sandpaper.
Most people use finer steel wool, as it will be less abrasive and is easier to maneuver around the tip.
The honing cloth is a finer version of sandpaper.
The method is to gently rub off the carbon on the tip till the tip is as shiny and clean as possible.
The use of a jeweler’s rouge method may be less abrasive.
But if used incorrectly, especially in the hands of a novice, it might lead to decreasing the lifespan of your tool.
However, this method also works to polish your tip as it cleans.
Ensure that you use a very soft-bristled brush, anything harsher will damage your tip.
Move your brush over the tip like you are using a toothbrush until the carbon is scraped off, leaving a clean tip.
The brush is aggressive enough in getting in between the hard-to-reach crevices at the tip of the pen.
Unfortunately, the fact that it can get into the intricate parts of the tip of the pen risks damage.
Cleaning your tool with a knife is not a smart nor a safe method. This is because it comes with its own safety hazards.
When scraping a tool with a knife that is too sharp, you risk damaging the tool and harming yourself too.
The use of a tea strainer method as a method of how to clean wood burning tips, finds itself under the non-recommended methods – for a lot of reasons.
It may appear harmless to simply turn a tea strainer upside down, and run the strainer on top of the back of the strainer in a circular motion.
However, it is very damaging, considering that a tea strainer is extremely abrasive. The tips of the pen are guaranteed to be very scratched.
How Do You Polish Pyrography Tips?
To polish tips, one has to switch off the tool and allow the tip to fully cool down. You can cool it in cool water, or just leave it for a while to cool off naturally.
Then use a polishing cloth to rub off any carbon residue on the tip. Rub until there is none left and then place your tip in a safe place until you want to use it again.
What Is The Sponge For In Wood Burning?
Here is a simple idea of how to clean pyrography tips before each use with a simple accessory.
A wet sponge is normally used to wipe off any corrosion or debris that may be on the tip before the tool is used.
Once wiped off, the tip can be turned on to burn off the moisture and begin the burning process.
How Long Do Pyrography Tips Last?
This will always depend on how well you maintain your tips:
It can be said that “a poor craftsman blames their tools”, but in this case, a careless craftsman will damage their tools.
Damaged tools create substandard crafts. In this case, new tools will have to be bought.
Regular maintenance and care go a long way in giving your tools and tips longevity. Most come with a warranty of a year, but one can use some tips for two years or more.
Therefore, learning how to clean wood burning tips is essential.
Aftercare Cleaning Advice
- Always wait until your tool has cooled down completely before storing it away or cleaning it.
- Store in a cool, safe place that ensures that the tool will not be damaged.
One must know that extended periods of use of the tool will eventually reduce the wood burning writing tips integrity.
Knowing How to Clean Pyrography Tips Is Essential
Keeping your wood burning tool tips in good condition should be part of your routine when finishing your work for the day.
Cleaning wood burning tips will save you money in the long run as you won’t have to replace tips as regularly.
And, more importantly, it will increase the ease of use of your tool. Clean tips allow you to use them to their full potential, thereby allowing you to create unhindered.
We hope you found our advice on how to clean wood burning tips useful and easily implementable.