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How to make a wood burned pendant

Part of Facet's series of articles on making jewelry with children

Pyrography, the art of burning designs into wood, leather and other materials, has been around since humans discovered fire. Artisan designs can be quite intricate—even museum quality. But the low price point of wood burning tools makes pyrography easily accessible to beginners, too. 

My son bought a woodburning tool a couple of years ago after using one at a scouting event. The tools range from relatively inexpensive models (great for beginners) that deliver adequate results, to the more pricey professional models that offer extreme precision. My son is always looking for excuses to use the woodburning tool, so we came up with the idea of handmade gifts of jewelry.

I came across some wonderful pendant-sized wood discs while on a trip to our local craft store--available either with or without pre-drilled holes. I bought them without hesitation thinking this would be a particularly good opportunity for him to practice his pyrography techniques.


His grandmother's birthday was coming up, so he decided to make her a necklace. As with any technique, the more practice, the more sophisticated the design, but here are the basics of what he did to make a simple pendant necklace. Try a Google search for “wood burned pendant” to see more elaborate designs for inspiration. 


  • Carbon paper
  • Wood burning tool
  • Wooden discs
  • Leather cord
  • Small screw eyes

Prepare the pendant

To turn the wooden disc into a pendant, simply screw a small screw eye into the top of the wood. I recommend adding the screw prior to burning the wood. During my son's first attempt at this project, the finished pendant piece was ruined when his beautiful artwork cracked right down the middle. Why? We didn't predrill a hole in the top of the wood.

So, it is important to predrill a tiny hole in the top of the pendant before screwing in the screw eye, so that the wood does not crack.  Make sure to hold the wood in a vice before drilling. It is small, so an adult will definitely want to assist.

Transfer a design on to the wood

1. I recommend sketching out your design on paper first. Draw a circle around your piece of wood to create a template, and practice your drawing or saying on the piece of paper. Another idea would be to print out a design from a website with free illustrations. Once you've selected your design, sandwich a piece of carbon paper between your sketch and the piece of wood. Simply trace over your design and the image will be transfered onto the wood. If you don't like the way it looks, sand it off.

2. Alternatively, draw directly on the wood lightly with a pencil. The advantage of this method is that the pencil can be easily erased. The disadvantage is that you have to draw the design freehand on the wood.


How to burn the wood

1. Heat the tool up with one of the nibs on it. Try using the one with the finest point -- usually called the "writing nib."  If your woodburning tool has a heat control, start on a low setting—the hotter the nib, the darker the design. 

2. Practice on a scrap piece of wood before working on your pendant. Experiment with all of the nibs. Start with the main lines of your piece. Gently caress the nib over your drawing to trace your design. The speed that you move the nib over the wood determines how light or dark the line will appear—the slower the stroke, the darker the line. Try to move smoothly so your lines will flow evenly and follow the grain of the wood as much as possible.

Note: As a safety precaution, consider wearing protective gloves--especially for younger children. The nib does get very hot, which could be a potential problem if a child tries to hold the nib like a pencil.

3. Keep the tip clean. Carbon can build up on the nib causing it to create black lines rather than the preferred nutty brown color. To clean it, rub the hot nib on a piece of metal screen.

String the necklace

Simply run a piece of leather cord through the eye on the top of the pendant. Make sure the length of the cord is long enough to fit over a head once tied. Tie with an overhand knot.


Looking for other ideas for projects to make with children? Check out this great idea for making memories with resin ornaments


FIND MORE: wood , pendants , brooches

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