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KEZ Halliday

The Workshop

Cleaning your Pyrography tips and pens.

How to clean your Pyrography tips and pens


Cleaning your Pyrography tips and pens is very important. It will help your wood burning tips to last longer, and be more efficient.

Over time you will notice them naturally discolour and create a carbon build up. Unfortunately carbon is not good at conducting heat, which is quite an inconvenience.
When you’ve been using your pen tips for a while, you will notice patches that stick to your tips. This is carbon and it builds up rather rapidly.
Little bits of the dust will fall off onto your work while you’re using it. You may also notice that your pen doesn’t burn evenly anymore.

I generally clean pens after every use. Although if I have been burning really dark, I tend to stop and clean more often. Be sure to always wait for the tips or pens to cool down fully before cleaning.


Things you will need:

  • White polishing compound
  • Small piece of leather
  • The tip or pen you need to clean.

    The piece of leather that I use here is just a strip from an apron, The white polishing compound you can pick up on Amazon.

How to clean Pyrography tips and pens
how to clean a pyrography pen

To clean the tips:

First turn off the power to your machine or pen, and allow it to cool down. Rub the white compound on to the rough side of the leather. Then rub your pen or tip over the top of the compound to remove the carbon. You don’t need to push down to hard, just keep rubbing it in small circles.

Yes!!!! It is really that simple!

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The Workshop

Skull and Roses Woodworking project

Hey there! In this post I’m going to be talking about how I made this Skull and Roses woodworking project.
Some of the mediums I used are still relatively new to me, so I may not have used them in the most efficient way. I just found the best way that worked for me. So if you have a better way and would like to share, then please feel free to comment and let me know how you do it.

Full YouTube Video at the bottom of this post.

Tools used:
  • Scroll saw
  • Orbital Sander
  • Drill or drill press (whichever you have)
  • Wood glue and CA glue and Pritt stick
  • Dremel Fortiflex, Dremel 4000, or any rotary tool you have.
  • High speed cutters (125) (118) (Dremel) for the flowers
  • High speed cutter (144) (192) (Dremel) for the skulls eyes
  • Dremel versatip with pyrography tip or any wood burning tool you have.
  • White and red soft lead coloured pencils
  • A few print outs of the picture.

Wood used:
  • Iroko (back board of the frame)
  • Tulipwood (Edging of the frame)
  • Mahogany 8mm
  • Oak 6mm
  • Maple 6mm

It started with the skull and roses picture, I’d saved it from the internet early last year and it’s been on my laptop ever since. Its by an artist called Rodger Pister, and as soon as a saw it I fell in love. I knew I needed to do something with it.


My husband Phil keeps me well stocked up with frames so I chose this one with Iroko on the back and Tulip wood mitred frame. So I just needed to re-size and printed the picture I wanted, and then the exciting part came and I went in search of different types of wood to use.
I chose some 6mm Oak for the dark background and stained it the darker colour. The skull and the white roses are made from Maple and the red roses I used Mahogany.

First Step:
Working out the layers

So lets jump right in with this skull and roses woodworking project.
First thing was to number all the parts. And for each layer I wrote down what thickness of wood I wanted to use. The next thing I did was to sand all the wood pieces, and place masking tape all over the piece of oak and used Pritt stick to glue the picture to the oak on the masking tape side.
(I used masking tape on the wood first so I didn’t have to scrap the glue and paper off the oak).



Step two:
Drilling and cutting out the skull.

For the first layer (Layer 1) I only wanted the outside piece, so I pre-drilled all the holes for the scroll saw blade on the inside of the picture. (Skull in the picture below was the waste).

After I cut out the back plate, it was time to hand sand all the edges.
I was going for a contrasting look but I didn’t have a stain that was dark enough, so I improvised, I mixed some black and brown acrylic paint and added some water. Which I applied the paint to the oak back plate using a damp rag.
This still left me with the beautiful grain of the wood but I had the colour I wanted! I call that a win!

drilling pilot holes



The video below is how I cut the skull out, just a reminder I didn’t want the skull on this layer, only the outside piece as a backplate.

how to make artwork
Just checking how the contrast looked.

Step three:
Cutting out the skull and carving the features

Next I cut out the skull, this time I used the Maple because I wanted a lighter wood. But I kept the thickness at 6mm so it would match with the backplate. I used a Dremel (117) high speed cutter to carve out the dips in the eyes and nose. Once I finished carving, I sanded all the edges and made sure it fit into the backplate.

Carving out the eyes and nose
wood carving a skull

Step four:
Cutting and carving the flowers

I forgot to take pictures or a video for the cutting out of the flowers, but all I did was trace the flowers on to the mahogany and maple using the graphite paper.
On the picture below you can see where I have pencilled in the darker details so I knew that I needed to go deeper on these parts of the petals. I used a Dremel (118) and (125) high speed cutters to make the passes over the darker areas. This gave the flowers a 3D look.

Once all the petals were carved I went over all the edges with a Dremel (144) burr, to round off all the edges. This gave to flowers a more realistic and softer look.
Oh and don’t for get to sand each one and get into all the nooks and crannies.


( Tip: Let the burr do the work, and don’t push down onto your wood. Your best to do multiple passes rather than try and remove the wood all in one go).

Dremel carving

Step five:
Glue, Glue and more Glue

OK, So the video below is pretty self explanatory! All I did was glue all the pieces into the right places and leave it to dry over night.

Step Six:
Wood burning the details.

As you can guess by the title, step six is lots of wood burning! I had started wood burning some of the details onto the skull previously. To be honest I was being impatient and really wanted to see what it would look like 😉
I used the Dremel versatip for the darker areas, I find the Versatip burns quite dark so its great for adding real depth to the wood.
I’m not sure what the tip is called but its from the Dremel pyrography set, I’ll post a picture below of the tip. The pointy end enabled me to burn the underside of the petals really well .

Dremel pyrography tips, Dremel versa tip

Second to last step:
Yay!! Its nearly the last step! Time to add the finish.

The finish I used for this piece was Osmo Polyx – Oil Clear matt 3062. Although this applies very shiny and seems to stay shiny for quite a while, it dries matt and was just perfect. ( It stayed shiny for that long I had to double check I’d put the right finish on) 🙂

Osmo oil clear matt finish



Final Step:
Step back and admire the view!

I really enjoyed doing this skull and roses woodworking project, it has pushed my skills and now I’m ready for more. I hope you found this article helpful? What are some of your favourite ways to create amazing artwork? “leave a comment below,” “I’d love to know what you think,”

Day of the dead skull
skull artwork
Woodworking project
Skull and roses

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The Workshop

Fixing Pyrography or Woodburning Mistakes

Fixing Pyrography or woodburning mistakes

Hello! I’m Kez from Spirit & Bear, and we are going to be giving you some tips on fixing your Pyrography or woodburning mistakes.
Wood burning is so much fun, but if you new to Pyrography then it can be a little daunting.
So here is a list of helpful wood burning tips, that will help get you started!


A fine grit sand paper is a very popular way to remove unwanted burns but I find you have limited control on small areas and the sand paper can push the carbon into areas you don’t want dark. 

I tend to use a stick with a small piece of sticky sandpaper over the top. This can wear the sandpaper quite quickly though.

Fixing Pyrography or woodburning mistakes
Blade or knife & a sandpaper on a tapered stick.

Another way for Fixing Pyrography or Woodburning Mistakes is by using a craft knife or blade and gently scraping the burn away.
You have to be gentle and patient with this method, and don’t push into the surface of the wood. You simply scrape over the burn repeatedly to get your desired shape, or to completely remove the burn. This is by far the most effective way, but it takes time and practice.

So take your time and practice.. practice… practice!

I will be adding more short videos to this series of tips and tricks with woodburning.
You can find us on Instagram at Spirit & Bear for any updates on new blog post.

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The Workshop

Making Load spreaders for woodworking clamps

Load spreaders for woodworking clamps

Load spreaders for woodworking clamps:

Today I wanted to show you these, we call them Load spreaders and they are super simple to make.
The question i can hear you asking ” What do you use them for?”

Well…… They are a scrap piece of HDF flooring with a magnet inserted and glued in one side and what they do is magnetize to the metal clamps.

So when we are gluing up pieces of wood they attach to the insides of clamps and this prevents getting an indentation in the piece we are working on.

They are most useful when putting your clamps upside down because they just don’t fall off!

I used the table saw to take off the tongue-and-groove part of the wood and used the small cross cut sled to cut the smaller pieces. I cut these at 50mm wide and 80mm tall. I’ve found that this is the perfect size for the clamps we use.

Next I used the belt sander just to round the corners, there isn’t any particular reason for this other than i like them like that 🙂 but if you prefer to leave them with square corners than that’s absolutely fine.

After I finished sanding the corners, I used the pillar drill to drill the holes in the center of the wood. I haven’t drilled all the way through only enough for the magnet to sit flush. Although i did drill a couple too deep :-/

Then I used a 2 part Epoxy to glue in the magnets, the ones that I had drilled too deep, the magnets started to tip side ways so i used a piece of grease proof paper and a spring clamp to hold the magnet in the correct position.
The grease proof paper just stopped the clamp sticking to the Epoxy.



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The WorkshopWorkshop Resources

Wood burning for beginners.

Hello! I’m Kez from Spirit & Bear.
In this blog post I’m going to run thorough a few of the basics of wood burning for beginners. I get asked lot of questions about what tools to use, and what types of woods are the best for pyrography. I will also share with you how to prepare your wood, and safety gear.

Wood Burning Kits

“Which wood burner should i use?”
This has to be the question i get asked the most, and to be honest an inexpensive one like the Weller hobbyist kit from Amazon will do perfectly fine.
They are great for getting used to the heat and the different types of wood, and come with a range of tips too.

Starter kits.

There are many wood burners on the market, ranging from £10 for Aldi specials, up to the £500 mark for a professional burner. You don’t ever have to upgrade to a professional burner. There is some amazing pieces of work done with a basic burner. I have both basic and professional tools and use them both on a regular basis but it all comes down to personal preference.

Basic Weller wood burner.

The basic burners don’t get quite as hot as the professional burners. Some of them don’t come with a temperature control either. With practice you can still achieve the same results, its just not as fast and you have to take your time. Just take your time to experiment with your burner and tips to find out what works best for you.

Remember to be careful when screwing your tips in and out when the burner is hot. Its possible to cross thread the burner which means you wont be able to put another tip in. I’d advise that you wait until your burner is cold before changing the tips over.

Remember to try out your tips before you start any big projects. It always helps to have some scraps to test on before you burn your best piece. You can use the scrap wood to test the heat of the tips and practice your techniques before you burn onto your project.

Professional burners.

Optima 1 professional wood burner.

The more professional burners have more options. They also have interchangeable pens that can been brought separately. There is wide selection The professional burners heat up and cool down a lot quicker than the basic ones. The Optima takes around 5 seconds. Where as the basic Weller one can take several minutes to heat up or cool down.

Everyone has their own tip preferences, so make sure you try them out. Below are 2 of my favourite tips. The Small Spoon shader on the left and the Small ball point on the right.

Left- Razertip small spoon shader
Right – Optima small ball point stylus


There are many other professional burners on the market so pick one that suits you.
Peter child
Razor Tip
Optima 1

Types of wood.

MDF

Saftey Tip No 1:

Don’t burn on Medium Density Fibreboard or MDF as its commonly known as! It is extremely dangerous and releases toxins from the chemicals in it, when burnt.

Saftey Tip No 2:

Don’t burn on any wood that has been treated or has any kind of finish on it. This can also release chemicals that can be toxic when inhaled.

Popular woods to burn.

There are many different woods to choose from. So I’m just going to list a few common woods that are easily accessible from your local craft, or hardware shops. Just remember there is no ‘best’ wood to burn on, it all comes down to personal preference.

Pine

Pine is one of the least expensive, and easiest to find to start you off. Just bear in mind that with a wide grain pattern it can be a little tricky to navigate the burns. (especially straight lines)

Birch

Birch is a great to burn on, and often sold as birch slices. The colour is nearly white, which makes the burns stand out and the grain pattern is straight or slightly wavy. The end grain has nearly no colour distinction between the growth rings. There for has a uniform appearance. This makes it easier to navigate the burns.

Hard Maple

Hard maple has a very light colour, it ranges from a nearly white colour to an off white cream colour. The grain is generally straight but can be a bit wavy and has a fine even texture. This is makes it easy to work with when wood burning.

This list could go on and on, there are so many more woods that you can burn, but just remember! It all comes down to what you prefer. So try a few different woods and find the one you like best.

Preparing the wood surface.

Before you start burning your wood been sure to sand it first. Going down the sand paper grits to a 320 will ensure you have a nice smooth work surface. This just helps your burning tool to glide over the wood with ease. You can take it down the grits further if you wish. If you prefer to go down the grits further then by all means, go for it! You do wants best for you. Personally I find 320 is enough for any projects that I do. Then all you need to do is just wipe it over with a cloth and your ready to go.

Safety equipment

Before you start burning you may want to invest in some safety equipment. Gloves are a good thing to have handy. When you are burning your wood the pen on the wood burner gets hot.

A reliable respirator mask that is designed to seal out toxic smoke. The filters in the masks can be for different things, so be sure to check that the mask you buy is for smoke.

A fan is also something that is handy to have. You can put it next to your working area and the fan pulls the smoke away from you and blows it out. I use a 320mm computer fan mounted onto a wooden base. I generally use it near my workshop door so it pulls the smoke away from me and blows it towards the door.

Summary

Remember safety first and Use your safety equipment!
Have fun and experiment with different woods types. A selection pack from your local craft shop to practice on may be an idea if you don’t have a lot of different woods to hand.
You don’t need an expensive wood burner to start with, an inexpensive one will do just fine.
And last of all …..practice ….. practice ….. practice … while having fun, of cause, it doesn’t have to be perfect because there is no ‘right’ way to make art, only your own way! 🙂

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The Workshop

Custom wooden drink coasters

custom wooden drinks coasters
custom wooden drinks coasters

Custom Wooden drinks coasters can add a personal touch to any room, but you don’t want just any old coasters, you want the perfect ones for your home! If you looking for drink coasters you’ll want some that are personal to you and your home.
Personalise them with any message, names, dates, joke or whatever you want!

Custom drink coasters are both striking and elegant, and of course personal to you. Weather your a fan of hot or cold beverages, everyone will have somewhere to safely place their drink.

Beautiful personalised wooden drinks coasters really do make a special & thoughtful gift. So for those very special occasions such as, anniversaries, wedding gifts, housewarming, or any other special event, just remember personalised drinks coasters just might be the best gift choice.

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