Whether you’re new to pyrography — or you’re a dab hand at this artform — you’ll need a great canvas for your designs. And paler wood types, (like Alder wood), offer up the best background for those fine intricate images.
But the color of grain is just one of a handful of things you need to think about, when it comes to choosing pyrography wood.
Other things, such as sap content and grain texture, can all play a factor when it comes to the clarity of your artwork. So, how does Alder wood really measure up as a timber for wood burning?
Well, in this post, you’ll learn which four key criteria you need to check for when selecting a wood for pyrography. You’ll also find out if Alder wood meets all of these criteria — or whether you should skip this hardwood.
And keep reading to discover our top recommendation for a smoke-filtering face mask.
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Top 5 Woodworking Projects That SellTop 5 Woodworking Projects That SellWhat Is The Best Type Of Wood For Pyrography?
The best types of wood for pyrography tend to meet the following four criteria:
1). Light Color Grain
Wood types with light grain provide the perfect backdrop for dark burn lines. This contrast means that your images come out clear, and your shading doesn’t become obscured by the background.
2). Fairly Uniform Grain
Any lumber with a very distinct contrasting grain texture, (such as Red Oak), can impact the clarity of your images.
So, burning designs onto these types of wood can make your art look like a faded photocopy.
3). Very Little Tree Sap/Pitch
Wood types that have a lot of tree resins saturating their grain can be a problem when it comes to drawing on them.
As you burn into the wood, the resins inside their grain can heat up and bubble over. And this, in turn, will interfere with the clarity of your artwork — especially when it comes to shading.
That’s why sap-rich woods, (such as Pine and Cedar), are so difficult to work with when it comes to pyrography.
Side Note: If that sap-saturated timber has been kiln-dried, it should have very little sap in it for you to worry about.
4). The Wood Should Be Non-Toxic
There are some types of timber that should never be burned in any way shape or form.
Poisonous trees (such as the Yew tree) contain toxic compounds. And many manufactured wood types have been chemically treated, such as Plywood or MDF. So, burning these particular materials also carries increased health risks too.
Related Post: Is Plywood Really A Safe Wood For Pyrography?
Basically, burning these wood types risks releasing those compounds in the smoke as you burn them. And those smoky fumes are too dangerous to have wafting around in the air of your workshop.
So What About Alder? Is Alder Wood Good For Pyrography?
Alder wood is as close to a perfect wood for pyrography as you can get.
It has fairly light color grain, so it provides the perfect backdrop for dark burn lines. Its grain texture is unobtrusive, so it won’t impact the overall sharpness of your drawings.
And since this hardwood doesn’t contain much in the way of tree resins, you needn’t worry about sap messing up your shading either.
But Isn’t Alder Toxic When Burned?
Smoke, in and of itself, is bad for our health. So, you should not inhale big lungfuls of it, no matter which wood happens to be burning.
However, natural Alder does not contain any additional toxic or poisonous compounds. And this simple fact makes it a clean burning wood.
Nevertheless, even though it is a clean burning timber, you should still take the proper precautions. Which means you should always wear a face mask whenever you burn this wood.
And What Type Of Mask Do You Recommend?
Whatever face mask you get needs to be able to filter out smoke particulates. So, wrapping a cloth bandanna around your mouth simply isn’t going to cut it!
Now, air polluting particles are measured in microns. And, when it comes to smoke, the average smoke particle is around 2.5 microns small.
But, wildfire smoke particles, (which tend to be even smaller than the average smoke particle), can be as tiny as 0.4 microns. So, you’ll need a mask that can filter out particles that small (just to be on the safe side).
Which is why you should purchase RZMask’s M2 face mask.
The RZMask’s M2 mask has a breathable mesh that can filter particles as small as 0.1 microns. And, thanks to its adjustable nose clip, you can easily get this face mask to fit comfortably and securely.
Should You Stain Alder Before Wood Burning? Only apply wood stain AFTER you’ve finished wood burning your designs. Wood stains are oily resins with a consistency similar to tree resins. So, burning wood-stained surfaces can also mess with the clarity of your art. What’s more, those oily stains will also create an excessive amount of smoke.
To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…
- 1). The best type of wood for pyrography will have a lightly colored, (and fairly uniform), grain texture.
- 2). Try and avoid burning any wood that has a lot of tree sap in it. And always avoid burning any wood that may contain toxic compounds and/or chemicals.
- 3). Natural solid Alder wood is a great timber for wood burning designs. Its light unobtrusive grain will provide you with the perfect backdrop for your pyrography art.
Alnus glutinosa (Alder Tree) | GardenersWorld.com
Particulate Matter (PM) Basics | EPA.gov