So I'm looking for a wood, but not sure which species would apply to what I'm looking for. Ideally, I would like a wood that is easy to carve by hand, but has a good color/grain and would take a burn well. I've been looking at cherry, but I'm not so sure how well it take pyrography.

  • Basewood and butternut are supposed to be good carving woods, no clue about their ability to hold clear burning.
    – bowlturner
    Mar 24, 2015 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


I think the answer to this question comes in several parts. I've turned several kinds of wood and have done some amount of wood burning in my younger days. I can't directly speak about pyrography in particular (fun as it sounds) but I am familiar with 'torching' or 'scorching' for certain effect.

I enjoy turning and carving in poplar, cherry and other clear, hard woods. I tend to stay away from curly maple and the like as it is very hard on my hands (personal preference).

Cherry will char, but the difference (especially in the darker varieties/specimens) will be more muted between the char and the natural color. Imagine the difference between and earthen red and dark brown. I've found cherry doesn't produce as dark of an char when heat is applied. It more likely turns to ash, before black.

I have found the lighter the color of wood, the more contrast and visibility you can get between the charred areas and the natural, un-charred areas.

I would try poplar first, then maybe move on to some ash and or soft maple. And as always, I'd keep a rag in a pitcher of water nearby to help control the spread of both heat and burn.

Good luck and please, if you're able, share some of your outcomes/projects for the group. This is a very interesting subject and post.

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