Introduction: How to Make Wood Burnt Halloween Signs

About: I am the mother of 2 boys. I love to make things for them and the rest of my family and friends.
Pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning.

I think the way the designs look when burned into the wood is spooky, and makes it great for Halloween.  It is a pretty cheap, easy and addictive process.  

You will need: 
  • a wood burner (I got mine at Walmart for $10)
  • a piece for wood to burn (once again walmart $1.12)
  • ribbon
  • a glue gun, or strong glue
  • a pattern or image you want to burn
  • an ink pen, or if you can't find one in the junk drawer, a paper clip
  • tape
  • a pencil

Step 1: Pick an Image and Resize It

I was making these to have up at my office.  this year we have a few kids that spend parts of the day with us, and we all thought it would be nice to decorate for Halloween.  The oldest is turning 6 next week, so we didn't want any thing too gory.  My son, who is one of the ones hanging around, is in LOVE with Skelanimals, so that is what I chose to use.  

If you don't have an image you already want to use, go to google, and do an image search.  I googled skelanimals and found their website ( and under the FUN STUFF tab, you can design your own desktop wall paper.  You can pick from all the different characters and pose them different ways, then save them into big images that are really good quality.  My son helped me choose Marcy, the monkey, and Elle, the elephant.

Measure the board you are going to use to know how big to print your image.  My board was 5X7 inches, so when I print the pictures out I just chose to print them at 5X7 inches.  If yours is a different size or the image is not on your computer, use a photocopier and increase or reduce the size until you get it right.

Step 2: Tape the Image Down

Cut around the portion of the picture you want to use on the sign, then tape it on the wood where you want it to go.  I couldn't find any scotch tape this time, so I used some lefter over sticker sheets that we were going to throw away.

Step 3: Trace the Picture (Twice)

Using the ball point pen trace the picture on the lines you want to burn.  Bear down hard enough so that there will be indents on the wood below.  My pen was out of ink, but that doesn't matter.  I have used a paper clip before to trace it, but it doesn't work so well with curves.

After the picture is all traced, take the paper off, and trace the lines you just made with a pencil.

Step 4: Burn Baby Burn

Following your pencil lines, use the wood burner to burn the image.  This of course should not be done by children, or around nosy cats if you can help it.  I couldn't, and nearly burnt the whiskers off my cat.  Also, a tip, if you are like me, and tend to get close to paper as you write, you will probably get close to the wood when you work it.  Try to resist the urge.  Eyebrows, bangs, nose hairs, etc., will burn when if the get too close, and they STINK!  I first used a wood burner in the 6th grade in shop class, before I got the glasses I so desperately needed.  I leaned too close, and next thing you know, the whole wood shop could smell my burning hair.  From that I learned, you don't need to put your face so close to the wood, and also, pull your hair back into a bun, and put a head band on the keep the wispys from getting singed.  Also it is fun to put a bandanna on, it's about the only time I have a good excuse to wear one.

After you are done going over the image, wait for it to cool and then erase all the pencil lines.  

About this time my husband noticed that the edges of the wood were looking rough, so he took the tiny dremel out and sanded the edges.  I have to say, I didn't notice that it needed it til he did it.  But I also should say, I left one un done, cause that seems a little spookier to me.

Step 5: Attach the Ribbon

Cut the ribbon for the wood to hang from and glue it to the back of the wood.  Hot glue works great (the best) but I used elmers glue on these and it worked fine, I would just be a little afraid if they were going to hang outside.  Put a big glob of glue in each top corner and put the ribbon in the glue.  Let it all dry. 

Step 6: Donezo

that's it.  If you really want to finish it up, you can glue a piece of fabric to the back to cover it up, but, I didn't and it looks good to me.  You can also burn around the edges if you like, I think it adds a nice finishing touch.

All together I paid $10 for the wood burner, that could be used over and over, $1.12 for the wood, $1 for the spool of ribbon that will be plenty for more projects.  So a $10 investment, and about $1.50 in materials.

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