DIY: Wood-burned Canada Day decor

By Julia Dilworth, 24 hours Vancouver


I first took home a burning tool last fall, only to pack it away immediately in the recesses of my craft desk.

This corded rod was irritatingly cumbersome and nearly impossible to use. The point is miles from your hand — to keep you from getting burned — but this made things so awkward and I wasn’t sure how I could produce anything close to the detail you’d get with drawing.

After trying the tool again this weekend, it turns out I was the problem.

I had the heat really low because I was afraid of starting a fire and I was pressing really hard to get it to work — both huge mistakes!

Each device will have a heat chart in the directions, but I found for wood I had to put it up to the two highest settings. Test the heat and all the points before you get started, because each will be suited for a different use.

And don’t press too hard — this is the key. It should burn markings as you lightly graze the wood — you’re not doing any carving.


• wood plank ($5)

• wood burner ($20-$40

at craft stores)

• X-acto knife

• acrylic primer

and paint

• printer

How to: Wood-burned plank

At the Home Depot, you can get cheap pieces of wood and chop them in store. So I bought a $5 plank, about one inch thick and six inches wide, and sawed off a piece around 11 inches long.

Print centred text, plus a maple leaf onto paper and cut it out with an X-acto knife.

Line up the stencil evenly, leaving more space at the bottom, and colour it in with a pencil.

Attach your chosen point, I picked the rounded ‘Flow Point’ for letters. Set the burner on the right setting, for me it was just before the max.

Lightly trace the letters, filling them in slowly. Practise first!

Turn off the burner, let it cool (this takes forever) then change the point to a finer tip, I chose the ‘Tapered Point’ for detail.

Trace the leaf, shade in with a wider point if desired.

Paint dip: Tape off the bottom, paint primer on, let this dry and then paint over with layers of desired colour.

Option: Instead of paint dipping, add a year of birth to turn this into a birthday present!  

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