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Home | Techniques | Burning Basics For Bird Carvers

Burning Basics For Bird Carvers

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A diamond hone puts a sharp edge on a tip. Use a fine hone to remove carbon deposits, which reduce the temperature at the tip.

Maintenance Tips

A woodburning system can burn out like any other electrical appliance. Should that happen, replace the unit or send it back to the manufacturer if it is still under warranty. I do not advise dismantling the control box to make your own repairs or adjustments.

If treated and stored properly, the pen should remain problem free, but the tips do need care. Here are some helpful suggestions:

Before putting a new tip to work, heat it until it is glowing red for ten seconds and let it cool down. This is known as annealing the metal, and failure to do this results in a tip that does not hold its sharp edge for very long.

Woodburning with Style  Great Book of Woodburning  Complete Pyrography

Even after the annealing process, a tip will dull after considerable use. A smooth edge at the end of the tip offers less drag or resistance when burning, so it is wise to keep it sharp. A medium-grit diamond stone sharpens quickly and efficiently. Put the stone on a stationary surface and stroke the tip as you would a knife blade. If you want to have a secondary bevel on the edge, simply hold the tip a few degrees above the horizontal.

Once sharpened, the edge still needs to be honed. Use a leather strop or a felt disc impregnated with some jeweler’s rouge in a rotary power tool set at a moderate speed.

Carbon deposits invariably build up on a tip and reduce the temperature of the tip. Do not turn up the heat setting to clean the tip. Instead, with the system turned off or unplugged, use very fine sandpaper such as 600 grit or a fine diamond hone.

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Author info
Jack Kochan
A self-taught artist and avid woodcarver, Jack Kochan has been carving nearly twenty years. Though primarily a wildfowl carver, he is adept at many styles of carving from relief, to caricature, to realistic and covers a broad range of subject matter. Born and raised in the rolling hills of Berks County, Pennsylvania, he grew up with a deep appreciation of wildlife and nature. Much of his work reflects the adversity, tranquillity, and sometimes the comedy of nature itself. A thorough understanding of anatomical structure helps create his many lifelike pieces. He also illustrates for Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine and has been a contributor to several articles. Jack resides in Leesport, Pennsylvania with his wife, June. more