You might have thought of getting a set of a wood-burning pen but also thinking of using the soldering iron that you already have. There are both similarities and differences between the expensive wood-burning pens hanging on the supermarket closet and the cheap soldering iron lying around in the corner of your house. But can these be each other’s alternatives? Let’s check it out.
What Makes a Wood Burner Different From a Soldering Iron?
Even though these products appear to be the same on the surface, there’s quite a lot of things that make them different.
Soldering iron and wood burner pens have different purposes. Soldering iron is generally used for soldering wires, electronics parts, and joints.
The wood-burning pen is solely used for Pyrography, a type of art or technique of painting wood or leather by burning a design on the surface.
Varieties of Tips
Unlike soldering irons, wood-burning pens have tons of different pointed tips, blades, and other tools for detailed and precise pyrography works.
Wood-burning pens come with adjustable temperature regulators that allow versatile pyrography works while most soldering irons do not have this feature.
50/50 tin & lead solder melts around 180° – 220° C. Wood burns a higher temperature than solder melts. Wood burners can reach temperatures of 400°-565° C.
Most tips of wood-burning pens are made of iron and nichrome. Soldering iron tips are made of copper core plated with iron. Copper is an excellent heat conductor, and the iron plating is used for durability.
Most soldering irons come with a cheap price range where wood burner pen sets are more expensive than soldering irons.
Can I Use A Soldering Iron For Wood Burning?
So, the question is can you use a soldering iron to burn wood? Yes, using soldering iron is not an ideal option for wood burning, though you can use it to weld plastic!. However, you can try using a soldering iron for experimenting and practice purposes. If you want to give it a shot, consider these suggestions to get better results.
Use a Piece of Scrap Wood
You don’t want to mess up the perfect piece of wood which is going to be used for pyrography. Take a small piece of scrap wood and try it out.
Heat the Soldering Iron Properly
Solder melts at a lower temperature than wood burns. Heat your soldering iron for 10 minutes to make sure it is heated enough to make visible burn marks.
Use a New Tip
Soldering iron has replaceable tips. Get a new, sharp tip to get smooth and stable control of the iron.
Draw Outlines With a Pencil
You would like to consider drawing outlines of the shape you want to draw with a pencil first.
Clean the Tip Repeatedly
Clean the soldering iron i.e. the tip of the soldering iron frequently as burnt wood sticks to the tip and makes it difficult for further process. Use a piece of cloth or a rag, but be cautious because the tip would be very heated and may cause severe burn injury.
Can I Use a Wood-Burning Pen for Soldering Work?
If you want to join pipelines, you may use your wood-burning pen with enough flux and solder. A soldering iron tip is used to melt and wet the solder. A wood-burning iron is very often made of iron and that does not wet the solder.
So, for detailed and precise works like assembling electronic components, wood burner pens will not be much of a help.
What’s Pyrography All About?
Pyrography is a type of art of decorating or designing materials with burn marks, especially woods by a heated object. This 17th-century art technique has continued its legacy to this day.
The term originated from the Greek ‘pur’ (fire) and ‘graphos’ (writing) which turns out “writing with fire”. From the time of the Han dynasty, it was known as “Fire Needle Embroidery” in China. Before the term “pyrography” the name “pokerwork” had been most widely used.
Back then people used to work with heated metal poker to get the job done. As you can imagine, it was a difficult and lengthy process to reheat the poking object again and again. Modern technology offers various range of products such as wire-nib burners, laser cutters, and wood burner pens.
Things to Consider
Before you start burning your woods, make sure that it is not any type of treated wood: chemically treated, varnished, painted, sealed with a finish, etc. Burning any kind of prepared wood, Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF), synthetic boards, and plywood release toxins into the air, which is very hazardous and may even cause cancer and other major health issues.
Always wear a mask while working as wood dust is harmful & can cause respiratory and lung problems. You can also consider setting up a quality dust collection system for a safer work environment.
Different types of woods have different ways of burning according to their moisture, density, and other factors. Amount of heat you’re going to need, the pressure of the tip on the surface, how long it takes to make a burn mark on your wood will also vary. So, do a little research about your piece of the platform you’re going to use before starting the work.
Before using a wood burner for a soldering job or vice versa, keep in mind the result is never going to be the same. What you can do is, plan your work accordingly to get the best possible outcome.