A very important step when preparing your surface for wood burning is to transfer the design you’ve chosen onto the wood. There are different methods to do this, but the most popular seems to be transfer paper for wood burning.
When the surface you’re going to work with, either wood or leather is ready, it’s time to transfer the design onto it. But, how do you do this? Easy. You can use carbon or graphite paper, securely position it on the surface, and put on top your printed design. Now it’s all a matter of using a pencil or pen to outline your designs and its details. Remove the papers from the wood or piece of leather, and it’s done! Now you can get on burning and creating beautiful and unique pieces of art.
Different methods to transfer your design onto the wood
- Free hand
- Wood burning transfer paper
- Transfer tip
- Stencil and projectors
- Home-made methods
We are going to discuss the different methods that can help us transfer our designs from a white paper onto the wood. You can just print the designs you like (always in the correct measures, exactly as it’s going to look like on the wood), and just transfer it onto the wood.
There are different methods to do this, and while our favorite is using wood burning transfer paper, you may find that for your design and surface, another method suits you best.
This is a good option if you’re creating a design from zero, if you’re creative, or very good at drawing. As its name suggests, you draw the design onto the wood just using your hand. No stencils, no prints.
While it’s a great way of creating unique patterns, you have to be very careful not to dent the wood, especially if you’re using softwood like basswood. Also, you have to be sure of your strokes, as erasing repeatedly may change the color of the wood.
For this method, we recommend using a soft graphite pencil and tracing very slow and without applying pressure.
Wood burning transfer paper
Using carbon or graphite paper we can achieve a clean transfer from a printed design onto the wood.
First of all, we want to choose the design of our liking and print it.
Then, we are going to positiFreehandaphite or carbon paper on top of the wood (with the blue or black color touching the wood), and the printed copy on top. We recommend using scotch to fix it properly and avoid it moving.
Finally, using a pen or a pencil we can outline our design, including the details and shading. Once we finish, we can remove the scotch tape, the print, and the carbon or graphite paper. It’s that easy! On the wood now we are going to see a perfect copy of the design we want to burn.
If you have made any mistakes, or forgot some lines, at this point you can fix it quite easily using a soft graphite pencil.
And, what’s best, you can re-use your design as many times as you want!
Wood burning transfer tip
Using a wood burning transfer tip is a more technical and professional method.
First, we need to print the design from the computer respecting the size of our burning surface. Since we are going to position the design face down, remember that writing should be mirrored to look right.
Next, we are going to position the printed paper on top of the wood with the ink side facing the wood. You can use clamps to keep it in place.
Now, it’s time to heat up the transfer tip. When it’s ready all you have to do is pass it on top of the paper where the ink is. When you finish, safely place the pen in its holder, remove the paper, and now the design is clearly transferred onto the wood!
Stencils and projectors
Another easy method that doesn’t require transfer paper for wood burning is to use stencils or a projector.
Stencils come in different materials, like plastic or wood. They are easy to work with and reusable. All you have to do is position the stencil on the wood exactly where you want it. Next, using a soft graphite pencil, follow the stencil to create your design.
Using a projector, or even a laser pointer, is another easy option to transfer complex patterns and designs. You can also easily enlarge or reduce the image if needed.
Just remember to use a soft pencil and apply little to no pressure at all when tracing your design. Otherwise, you will end up with indentations on the wood that may affect your work later on, apart from being quite hard to erase or fix if you make a mistake.
We have found other options that are less professional but seem to work well for some wood burning fans.
If you do not have wood burning transfer paper at hand, you can just use a graphite pencil to color the back of your printed design and then outline it on the wood. It ruins your design so you won’t be able to use it again, but it does work!
Another method that we have seen quite a bit around is the use of alcohol. This works better with very light-colored wood since it will create mostly yellow looking lines. All you have to do is position the printed design on the wood with the ink side facing it. Then, apply with a little cotton ball a small amount of alcohol on the paper. It will leave a trace on the wood, but no need to mention it will destroy your design.