Monday, 29 July 2013

Pyrography and scoll saw box

Hi all,
In my last post I told you I was doing something special with my scroll saw and my pyrography iron, well here it is.
This is the first box I have made with my scroll saw. It is my own design and I'm very pleased with the results. The best part is that I no longer have to search high and low for boxes made from decent wood. Being a pyrographer who likes to decorate boxes I have been constantly surprised by the poor quality of wood some manufacturers use to make boxes, some of it is little better than cardboard. I don't know where they get it from, but it is soft, the grain is rough, it is impossible to sand to a decent finish and it smells of fish as soon as my pyrography iron gets anywhere near it.
This front back and sides of this box are made from quarter inch thick oak and the top and bottom are made from quarter inch ply. I would have liked to have used oak on the top and bottom but I have been unable to source any timber wide enough. Three inches seems to be the limit at quarter inch thickness, but if anybody knows where I can get flat panels of that thickness but wider I'd be happy if you could let me know.

By the way, I have lined the insides of the box with 3mm ply wood to make sure any contents can't escape through the holes made by the scroll saw.

The box measures 3 inches tall, 4 inches wide and is 7 inches long. I made it to go on my bedside table where I deposit the contents of my pockets every night. Car keys, loose change and that sort of stuff plus my rings. I'm sure it would have been very handy, but my wife decided that it was too good to spend its life in the bedroom and found a perfect place for it in the living room. Ah well, I guess I will just have to crack on and make another one.

In my next post I will show you what my wife has been up to with her pyrography iron and explain how I designed the box that is pictured above.

Monday, 22 July 2013


Hi All,
Last week wasn't very productive because of the heat wave. Several days of temperatures around 30 degrees sapped my strength and motivation. Having my computer workstation in the attic room, which is the hottest room in the house, didn't help.

We actually spent most of the week encamped under a large willow tree at the bottom of the garden, which was the only place we could get some slight relief from the sun. Some may think that sitting in the shade on a hot summer's day is heaven, but I'm afraid I found it rather boring. In the end, I ran an extension down the garden so that we could at least do a bit of pyrography.

It never ceases to amaze me that people will pay good money to go  to hotter places and sit in the sun all day. Ah well, it wouldn't do for us all to be wired up the same, so let's get back to the pyrography.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was doing a dragon, well here he is in all his glory.
  I used my scroll saw to cut the dragon from a panel of 6mm plywood and then burnt in the scales with my pyrography iron. Cutting it out was quite enjoyable even though it was time consuming. Great care needed to be taken in places where fine accurate cuts were needed.

Originally, I was going to do every scale with my pyrography iron, but I decided to just do a few here and there to give it a reptilian flavour. I did this because I didn't like the design of the wings. The harp shaped cut out on the back of the dragon would have looked better if left whole and I had drawn some wings on it with my pyrography iron. If I could buy hindsight I'd lash out a few quid on a bucketful, even though I'm generally as tight as a chub's bum.

Anyway, the dragon provided me with enough cutting practise and I feel that I am now ready to do my own thing. In fact, I have made a start and hope to show you something special (he said with his fingers firmly crossed) in my next post.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Stag Do

Hi all,
I have been busy this week working my way through the exercises in the book that I bought about scroll sawing. My aim, if I can avoid sawing my fingers off, is to become proficient enough to be able to make boxes which I can decorate with my pyrography iron. Amongst a few other things I did a moose on a stand, which I cut from a piece of three quarter inch pine.

And keeping to the same theme, I cut a stag out of 4mm thick plywood. The background is watercolour paper painted with a mixture of black and midnight blue. The dark background helps to highlight the scroll saw work. I did think of doing a bit of pyrography on this picture because I think some of the cuts that were made with the scroll saw would have looked better if they had been done with my pyrography iron. The features on the stag and the marks on the birch tree would all have looked better if  they had been burnt in. I could have also used my pyrography iron to put some fur on the deer and emphasis the grasses in the foreground, but I decided against it in an effort to reach my goal.

For those who haven't seen a scroll saw here is a picture of mine.
It's a funny looking bit of kit, but it does an excellent job of sawing wood, which needs little effort in finishing because it doesn't rip out the grain of the wood. During the next few weeks I will add a page to this blog that will cover what I have found out about scroll sawing and the choices I have made. Now I must get back to the dragon, it is the last exercise I am doing and it will have a bit of pyrography on it. I look forward to showing it you in my next post. By the way if you have any questions about pyrography or scroll sawing please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Selling Pyrography

Hi all,
I like being creative and I like some of the things I've made so much that I couldn't bear to part with them. It would be like offering my first born up for adoption. However, even if you have no intention of trying to make money from your creations you will have to find an outlet  for your work, or rent a storage unit because the stuff builds up very quickly.

Those who have been following me for a while will know that I have used two methods to sell my pyrography wares. I have had my own website for a number of years, which not only provides me with a way of selling some of my pyrography work, but also enables me to give information about my books to those who may be interested.

The other channel I use for selling my pyrography work is It is easy to set up a shop on Folksy and nice to know that customers can find your work at any time. The fees are reasonable and I would recommend them to anybody.

Having said all that, there is a new option which I tried once and dismissed. I am speaking of e-bay,  which didn't produce any buyers when I first tried it for my pyrography, but I still had to pay my fees. However things have changed and with free insertion week-ends every one is a winner.

When a free listing week-end comes around, I pop a couple of my pyrography items onto e-bay and see what happens. If they don't sell it doesn't matter because there is an option to automatically re-list them again for free. So unsold items just keep going around and around until they sell, once they do, you just pay the usual commission to e-bay.

This week, I sold the pyrography picture below.
It took two weeks before it got a bid, but it went eventually. Which brings me to anther issue when it comes to selling pyrography. I have analysed the items I have sold and found that the most popular are the items that also provided function. Boxes, rolling pins and bowls have done very well in comparison with pictures and plaques. The fact that I have just sold a picture is ironic given what I have just said, but take it from me pictures don't sell so well when compared to boxes.

That is one of the reasons why I have gone down the scroll saw route, about which I will explain a bit more in my next post. Here is a Scotty dog which I have just completed for one of the exercises that I am doing.
I painted it black because that is suits the breed of dog. I thought about doing it with my pyrography iron, but I would have needed a blow torch to get it that dark.