Introduction: Wood Burning With a Magnifying Glass

Picture of Wood Burning With a Magnifying Glass

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

Step 1: Materials

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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. 


AdrianC137 (author)2016-06-12

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.

KwartzKitten (author)2016-04-27

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?

Tanmayg (author)2016-03-20

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

victorcharlesiii (author)2016-01-12

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.

AshleyW3 made it! (author)2015-06-04

I made this, thoughts, advice?

AshleyW3 (author)2015-06-04

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.

sylvia.anglin.5 made it! (author)2015-02-18

I do this every summer for extra money. What I do is, take carbon paper and trace the picture on the wood. The carbon actually attracts the sun and makes it faster and easier to burn. The smaller the magnifier, the more detail you can make. Also, don't forget to wear VERY dark sunglasses so you don't burn your retinas. But yeah, try using carbon paper, graphite works the best, but the other kind works too. (don't burn the carbon paper. Take it off before you start burning. Just saying....)

tree.lover (author)2012-07-24

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!

doo da do (author)tree.lover2015-02-08

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

doo da do (author)doo da do2015-02-08

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.

meeko (author)tree.lover2012-07-25

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!

Lildevil963 (author)2012-08-17

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

doo da do (author)Lildevil9632015-02-08

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

doo da do (author)2015-02-08

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

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

dkierfilmmaker20 (author)2015-01-07

i LOVE the fact you made them movie related

starwarsgeek1 (author)2014-07-31

this is awsome thx for the idea

Dakota Joel98 (author)2014-01-28

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?

meeko (author)Dakota Joel982014-04-29

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

Bubbler (author)2012-08-09

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.

mpmitri (author)2012-05-13

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

meeko (author)mpmitri2012-05-17

That would be a great project, and simple too!

ababbtx450 (author)2012-03-10

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

meeko (author)ababbtx4502012-05-11

Yes! Free hand always turns out interesting and creative, but usually much simpler

fatboy07 (author)2012-04-11

cool! very nice!

meeko (author)fatboy072012-05-11

Thanks :]

dockholiday (author)2012-05-08

Looks good.

meeko (author)dockholiday2012-05-11

Thank You!!

abstracted (author)2012-03-27

i recall doing this in grade six, only on leather, i was a loner as a child, and it kept me away frm the bullies. they eventually found me, and learned the HARD way to just let me be ;) soooo long ago.

saksham (author)2012-02-27

i am still a bit confused....

are you saying that i should cut out the parts of the stencil which i want to burn...?

and wouldnt the wood burn a bit outside the part i want to burn??

please help!! :^|

meeko (author)saksham2012-03-02

Hey thanks for the questions, First off, you place printed stencil on the wood, with nothing cut out. Take a pencil and press hard while drawing on the stencil, take the paper off the wood and you should see your stencil in the wood because of pressing hard. It wont show up in color or anything, you have to go over the indent with pencil so that you can see it in the sunlight. I really hope I helped, I know that I don't have a picture because my camera couldnt pick up the indented lines.

Secondly, the wood wont burn outside of where you wanted to burn, as long as you stay in youre area and follow the lines, nothing else burns. The focal point created by holding the magnifying glass up will burn the wood and only where that focal point is placed. Thanks for the comment and feel free to ask if you are still confused, have a great day!

saksham (author)meeko2012-03-05

got it! :)

i will try it out as soon as my exams get over!

thank you

meeko (author)saksham2012-03-07

Awesome to hear!! Glad I helped!

Machine (author)2012-02-25

That is really cool. It is amazing what some people can do with the simplest tools.

The sun, a mannifying lens, wood.... and loads of imagination and skill.

doo da do (author)Machine2012-03-02

Practice, practice, practice, some of mine have looked good as people say.

meeko (author)Machine2012-03-02

Thanks for the comment, I hope you enjoyed it!

JohnsonJ (author)2012-02-24

Incredible Idea, and so simple! *heads to shop

meeko (author)JohnsonJ2012-03-02

Hope you got some inspiration! Thanks for the comment!

doo da do (author)2012-02-26

Done this years ago made signs with house numbers and gave them for presents. Put Eyes and chains to hang from mailbox. They hung for years. Doodado

meeko (author)doo da do2012-03-02

This is an ageless art, I have given way some awesome personalized gifts for birthdays and just random gifts. There are a lot of awesome things around the house that can be spruced up with a but of woodburning, thanks for the comment!

Orngrimm (author)2012-02-26

Nice 'ible!

I used a similar method with the stencil, but I used paste to "glue" the paper slightly to the wood.

And ai also I inverted it:
Make a negative-Image. Now burn away all whats white. If you are left with no more white, you are done.

I fount this method much more easy than to torch already black areas...

My 2 cents :)

meeko (author)Orngrimm2012-03-02

Thanks for the comment!! I hope others look at this and try your method as well! I certainly will once its sunny again! Thanks again :]

huf123 (author)2012-02-26

This is sweet. Thanks. Next thing you know, someone will find a way to mount it to a CNC machine. Lol.

meeko (author)huf1232012-03-02

Thanks for the positive comment! And somethings shouldn't be messed with by technology too much. I like doing it by hand and the enjoyment would be gone if a machine did it.

wazzup105 (author)2012-02-24

What an awesome idea.

ChapDad (author)2012-02-23

This is awesome. As soon as we get some good weather I'm going to go out and do this. Sadly it looks a bit slow to go around graffiti-ing people's sheds Banksy-style...

ripit (author)2012-02-22

nice job! i've been solar etching since 1979 and have found that you need to be careful about the shades you use they need to be as dark as possible when burnin for long .......s of time also when burning on light or even white woods like pine and birch it helps to etch the subject with say, graphite pencils,ash or such do so as lightly as helps the burning process.specially when starting new and very fine lines!

About This Instructable




Bio: Architectural Designer and Volunteer Firefighter
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