1. Ups and Downs of the Beginner Tool
When I began this entire process of burning wood, I started with a beginner's wood burning tool that didn't allow an adjustment of heat, but an adjustment of tips. The burner had a wide stem to protect your hand from the heat, but it got extremely uncomfortable when I used it for long period of time. If you are a beginner and simply want to dabble in pyrography, the beginner's tool is perfect. I used the round tip the most in order to create my first jaguar piece and my lily piece. I took a lot of breaks to compensate for the width of the tool being a little uncomfortable. This is also perfect for kids to start using a woodburner, with the supervision of an adult.
2. It all comes down to the ability to adjust the heat.
Once you begin to enjoy and get better at wood burning with a beginner's tool, you might want to invest in something a little more compatible with more detailed pieces. Colwood Woodburners and Razertip Woodburners are the top of the line for nicer tools. Colwood is my favorite because it burns to the highest quality, is made in the US, and it comes with a box to hold all your tools. You will notice that the pens used are hooked up to a box and the pen width is now the size of a normal pen. You'll also notice the knob that can adjust the heat. The lower the number, the less amount of heat and the higher the number, the more amount of heat.
3. Heat determines the darkness of the burn.
It makes sense, right? The higher the number on the knob, the hotter the pen gets and the darker the burn gets. That also means that you risk creating too deep of a crease in the wood. The key is to have patience and layer up as you go.
4. Different woods can make it harder or easier to burn on.
There isn't a particular wood that everyone uses for woodburning. Everyone has their own preference. I will recommend not to use pine because of the amount of sap that can still be left in the wood, causing toxicity in the air. My suggestion is to find a wood that fits your burning style. You'll find that the hardwoods are beautiful for the grains, but it also doesn't allow a smooth surface to burn on. The softer woods might be smoother in surface, but they burn faster which doesn't allow a lot of room for mistakes.
5. The smoother the surface, the easier it is to burn.
I know reclaimed wood and barnwood are the thing to do right now, but not as a woodburner. In fact, I visited an amazing reclaimed wood warehouse in Jacksonville, FL and walked out with barely any product for burning on. These places are great for reclaimed wood walls and furniture, but not necessarily worth the trouble when you have to spend hours sanding character out of the wood. I typically like wood that is easy to sand down because it already has a smoothness to the surface. I also like to know what wood I am burning on (which isn't always identified in reclaimed wood warehouses).
6. Have fun!
This is not an art that you can pick up over night, but it is worth a try. There are so many projects that you can do with a basic woodburner. The one thing that you will love is having a peaceful hobby that allows you to relax and bring out your creativity! If you can write, you can woodburn. So start small and work your way up to bigger projects as you go.