Wood Burning With a Magnifying Glass





Introduction: Wood Burning With a Magnifying Glass

About: Architectural Designer and Volunteer Firefighter

This Instructable is going to teach you how to make an awesome, creative gift or artwork with absolutely no artistic ability. 

Step 1: Materials

The only materials needed are:
Wood-be creative, make a small jewelry box or tool box and wood burn something on that. 
Magnifying glass-any size really, but the bigger, the better(and faster)
Stencil of what your going to woodburn-Print it out
Pencil-To trace your stencil to the actual wood 
Dark Shades-Protect your eyes 

Step 2: The Stencil

Find a stencil, silhouette, clip art, or something that can be easily woodburned.
Print it out to the size you want
If you don't have a printer, use your artistic ability and draw it straight onto the wood
If you aren't artistic and don't have a printer, hold up a piece up paper to your computer screen very gently, Dont press hard but lightly trace the stencil. 

You should now have a stencil on paper.

Step 3: Getting the Stencil on the Wood

To get your stencil to the wood easily, place the paper on top of the wood and press down on your pencil while drawing over the stencil and paper. This leaves you with the stencil indented in the wood. Go over the indents with pencil so that you can see your stencil easily on the wood.

Step 4: Tan, Relax, and Get Burning

Here comes the fun part of the project, the woodburning. Get on your shades, get your magnifying glass, and get going. 
Raise your magnifying glass up a couple of inches from the wood, find the focal point, and let the sun do the work. 
All you have to do is steer the magnifying glass.
Depending on how much dark areas are in your stencil and size of the magnifying glass, the time required for this varies. 
In any case, grab your radio and tanning lotion or sunblock and get going.
After finishing them you can polyurethane them for a nice look.
Here are some of my creations (I like the joker :] )

Thanks for taking the time to read my Instructable, I hope this ignites your creativity and gets you to make some awesome art for around the house or gifts for other people. People are always asking me to make these for them, so you could make some money off of this too. 

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You can also do this by burning through the paper, and using the white paper as a stencil; however, this requires the use of a pump spray bottle of water to moisten the paper so it doesn't catch fire. The inked paper burns before the white paper.

This is something I've been wanting to try since someone posted online about doind it with a crystal ball! Have you even heard of that?

I made it! I didn't have wood lying around so I used corrugated cardboard.

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AshleyW3: To create lighter shades, trying making little dots that are spaced apart (the more space between them, the lighter the shade)- or you can try making thin lines that are spaced apart.

Anyone have any ideas how to shade in lighter shades than stark black, light a lighter brown colour (maybe by somehow de-intensifying the light)? I know it sounds stupid but I've been doing solar wood burning for years and never worded out a method to do so.


I've been playing around with solar wood burning for a little over a year now but your lines are WAY more evenly burned than mine! How long have you been doing this? What size and strength magnifying glass are you using? Do you use the same one for smaller detail work? Well done, I'm impressed! And I'm encouraged by some of your suggestions. I can't wait to try them!

3 replies

It takes lots of practice, use scrap wood for practice. My self about 5 years.

Sometimes I use three or four different size magnifying glasses, depending on what I need to burn. The small ones work well for the outline.

I always use the same magnifying glass but I am very patient when it comes to the details. I try do the details when there's not very strong sunlight too because its slower and easier. Mine is about the size of the one in the picture except it doesn't have the handle or anything like that. Thanks for compliments and its nice to see other people who do this! Post some pictures!

i used to do this alot when i was younger and ended up selling them to people.

1 reply

i sold signs years ago, numbers for the mail box can sell.

When burning I also use a little fan from the dollar store

To keep the smoke out of my eyes, it works well.

I tried to use the magnifying glass, but a woodburner is much faster I think, although I dont do anything quite like yours , that is very cool. How long did it take you to make the Avatar one?

1 reply

The avatar one I think was about an hour. Maybe a little less. It seems slow, it can be slow, but the bigger the magnifying glass, the faster it goes

Good old fashioned magnifying glasses reminds me of playing with grass and twigs about 100 years ago. LOL Having done a bit of art work myself, might I suggest that the step where a pencil is used to impress the design onto the wood, a scribe can be used. These are obtainable for a couple of dollars from an art supply shop. Failing that, and keeping expenses right down, grind the sharp point off of a nail, until you have a fine round smooth point, and call that a scribe. Now have fun and don't start any fires.

This is Awesome! I see a Chief Head in the future!

1 reply

That would be a great project, and simple too!

This is actually fairly easy. what is really hard is doing this without a stencil