Wire burning for turning made easy
September 13, 2019 | 9:47 am CDT
Burning lines is fast. First use a detail tool to mark a slight groove for the wire to ride in, then hold the wire by the handles a few seconds until it heats up by friction to burn in the lines.
One common way to add distinctive details to turned wood projects is to use a wire to burn in a line. The folks at Easy Wood Tools have come up with a basic kit with everything you need to simplify this process.
The Easy Wire Burning Kit comes with two maple handles with metal loop hooks and nine wires in a variety of lengths and gauges for different applications. All the wires have color-coded ends so you can quickly tell them apart, with red being .016 inch, white .020-inch, and blue .026-inch. All the gauges are supplied in three lengths. 6-inch wires are recommended for small turnings such as pens and spindles. The 9-inch wires work best for medium-size handles, spindles and projects like pepper mills. The longest length, 18 inches, is suggested for larger turned work such as bowls and platters.
The Easy Wood Tools Easy Wire Burning Kit comes with two handles and nine quick-connect wires in various sizes and gauges.

Simple to use

For best results, locate where you want to burn a line first and use another tool to turn a slight groove there to help the wire find the right location and stay there while it heats up and burns in. With your chosen wire mounted to the handles, you just hold the wire to the spinning wood with moderate pressure. Friction does the work, generating a surprising amount of heat in a short time. In fact, be warned you’ll see some smoke and the wire is very hot, so be careful of touching or where you put it down (not in a pile of wood shavings!).
With a little practice, I found it simple to create repeatable burn lines in maple and birch tool handle stock. The kit runs about $50 and has everything you need to add burned detail lines to your turning. For more information visit www.easywoodtools.com.

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editor of FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.