Introduction: Wood Burning (Pyrography) Cutting Boards and Spoons As Christmas Gifts

This year I decided to give away crafty stuff for Christmas as much as possible, so I made a batch of cutting boards, and did some wood burning on those and one wooden spoon. It was easy but took some time. But in the end, I was happy with the results and pleased to give away handmade gifts.

Step 1: Cutting the Boards

I started with a 25" x 48" piece of Butcher Block that I bought at a home store called Mendard's for $70. Since I cut this piece down to 5 separate cutting boards, that got the cost of each gift down under $15 apiece, which I was happy with.

My table saw is too small to reliably make the first cross cut, so I used my circular saw. I cut the board in half, making two pieces that were approx 25" x 24". I clamped a straight board to the workpiece as a straight edge, and ran the circular saw against it for a straight cut. I got a little bit of tearout at the end of the cut, but knew that routing the edges would probably take care of it.

Step 2: Ripping the Boards to Final Sizes

I used my table saw to make the rip cuts. My tiny little table saw was barely big enough to set the fence where I wanted it to be. The first 25"x24" board was turned into 2 cutting boards, with one larger than the other. I didn't really measure these sizes, but just eyeballed how large I wanted them to be. I drew lines with a straight edge and made the cut appropriately.

When it was time to cut the second 25"x24" board, I wanted to get 3 cutting boards out of it, so I divided the size into thirds, drew lines with a straight edge, and cut along those lines.

Step 3: Adding a Handle

On one of the boards I thought I'd add a handle. This proved to be harder than I expected - I had to use my jigsaw. I didn't really think this part through before I got started. I am the second owner of the jigsaw, I have no idea how old the blade is on it. I think I'm lucky I didn't break the blade. The blade was barely long enough to cut through the wood. It took forever to make the cuts and I found myself putting a lot of pressure on the blade and then forcing myself to back off the pressure. But in the end, I got it cut out. So all's well that ends well.

I think if I had to do it again, I would change the shape for aesthetic reasons and make the edge of the board more curved instead of a straight edge with a handle sticking out of it.

I used a belt sander and a couple of files/rasps to try to shape the handle a bit. I don't really have any pics of that and didn't think it made a huge difference. I was impatient. If I had put more effort into this I could have done a better job.

Step 4: Routing the Edges and Final Sanding

I used a roundover bit in my router and went around all the edges of all 5 boards, on both the top and bottom (this really helped the one board with the handle as well). I then sanded everything for what felt like forever, starting with 80 grit, and working up to 220. I used a power palm sander for everything except the 220 grit, which I did by hand. My son got into the act and helped sand a bit too.

Step 5: Wood Burning / Pyrography

Ahh, now for me, this is the fun bit. I'm a graphic designer by trade and have always enjoyed drawing. These are some of my very first wood burnings and I was happy enough with how they turned out.

Since these are all one-of-a-kind designs and my first time with wood burning, I did several tests on scrap wood. I used the offcuts from the board with the handle for my test burns.

One design had a paisley pattern, and I looked up several paisley designs online and mixed those together into something I liked and felt like I could probably draw and burn. So I drew it with a pencil on a scrap board, and then burned over it with my finest (smallest) bit. My wood burner came with quite a few bits, but I mostly use the fine point shown in the pic (I think the kit called it a "groove" bit). It's the one that feels to me the most like drawing with a fine point pen, albeit in slow motion.

I did a similar thing with an owl design - I looked up several owl designs online and mixed and matched some elements until I created something unique but with inspiration from multiple other sources.

For the monograms, I designed these in Adobe InDesign on the computer, and printed them out on paper. I scribbled across the back of the paper with pencil until it was covered. I placed the paper onto the boards and drew over the designs/letters. And when I pulled the paper away I was left with a light pencil drawing of the monograms on the wood, which I then went over with the burner.

I really enjoy the wood burning process. I like the smell, and the slow pace of the burning. I zone out and time just passes by as I'm working. These were my moments of Zen, to borrow a phrase from Jon Stewart.

Step 6: Finishing

I picked "Howard Butcher Block Conditioner" for the finish, which I also picked up at Menard's. It's a combination of mineral oil, beeswax, and I think Vitamin E. I like the look of finished wood and it's food safe. It applies most easily when it's warm. I put the bottle in hot water for several minutes and that worked perfectly for me. I applied several coats - the bottle recommends 3-4 coats for new boards. I used almost the full bottle by the time I finished all 5 boards with multiple coats.

Step 7: Some Finished Products

Here are a few shots of finished products. I have now given them away and everyone seemed happy with them.

Oh, I promised you a spoon. My wife bought an unfinished wooden spoon at a store called T.J. Maxx for $4.99. I doodled on it with a pencil and then did the wood burning. I will say drawing on the curved surfaces was challenging with both pencil and wood burner. I would like to do more of these, but so far this is the only one I've done.

Hope you enjoy this instructable! I enjoyed making them and I think the new owners will enjoy chopping them up. :)

One suggestion: my wife suggested that she will likely turn it over do all the cutting on the undecorated side of the board to protect the design on hers. Sounds like a fine suggestion to me. :)

If you liked this, please vote for it in the contests! I've entered it in both the Homemade Gifts contest, and also the Wood contest.

Homemade Gifts Contest

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest

Wood Contest

Participated in the
Wood Contest