The Basic Woodburning Pen:
 Solid-Point

Of the 2 kinds of pyrography burner models out there, the solid-point woodburning pen is a pretty popular option.

Mostly because it's cheap. That makes it easy to try out. Or give as a gift.

But there are definitely pros and cons to this burner.

If you compared these tools to cars, they would be in the "compact car" category - they aren't fancy but they get the job done... if you didn't buy a lemon or a super low quality one that is!

Wait... if the Solid-Point is one of 2 burner models, what's the other option?

Read about the Wire-Nib Pyrography Pen here.

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A Little About The Solid-Point Model

The solid-point burner is obviously different in a few big ways.

For one, the solid-point woodburning pen looks more like a soldering iron.

Actually, most of them ARE soldering irons.

Every solid-point burner that I've seen comes with soldering tips. Some even come with a coil of solder.

Can't tell you what to solder though.

I have no idea.

They look clunkier and bulkier than the wire-nib pens, but that's because their heating machine - not just the element - is built into the pen itself.

Here are a few other big things to pay attention to.

The Price Isn't Painful

Unlike the wire-nib woodburning pens, the solid-point burner are fairly cheap.

You can usually score one between $10 and $40.

But be careful. Price does not always equal quality here. You have to know what to look for in a burner.


The Overall Size is Nice

I'm not talking about the pen size - that's actually bulky and hard to hold.

But wire-nib machines usually have a box or some kind of actual "machinery" attached.

The solid-point burner is just the giant pen and a cord. Some have a temperature gauge attached to the cord, but it's not big compared to the wire-nib tools.

This makes it a pretty compact tool - easy for transporting and storing.

HEat controls - or Lack Thereof

This is a game changer.

A woodburning pen without temperature controls is reeeeaaaally hard to work with.

Why?

Because EVERYTHING depends on technique.

If you want a darker burn, YOU have to burn more slowly - sometimes layering the burn. If you're going for a light burn, you have to burn quickly (not to mention accurately).

Heat controls allow you to keep a decently comfortable speed and still get lighter or darker burns as you please.

Well, almost.

Not all temperature controls are created equal.

Some have only 2 heat settings on a switch. Some have a dial with several heat settings.

I prefer *more* heat options.

But then sometimes those come with downsides too... like when the dial is placed on the cord where your elbow is constantly rubbing it... which means sometimes your elbow turns the heat down and you have ZERO idea why the devil your pen isn't burning anything [lame].

You can buy a temperature regulator that can give you this control, but those cost as much as the burner does - doubling your price!

So when considering one of these woodburning pens, seriously consider that heat control.

Tips or Points

What do you call the ends that you actually burn with?

That depends on the maker of the woodburning pen.

For the most part, they are called either points or tips.

With a solid-point burner, the tips go in like a screw. They're usually a brassy gold color.

As far as these go, you're pretty limited. There are about 4-8 classic tips that come with these woodburning tools, but there aren't a whole lot of other options besides heat stamps.

How to Remove Them

Most of the manuals say to wait until the machine is cool.

But most pyrographers don't.

What you do is snag your handy dandy fine-toothed pliers and VERY gently unscrew the point from the barrel of the pen. Then you place the hot point in a heat safe dish to let it cool while you VERY gently screw in another point.

Usually I start screwing it in by hand, but when the barrel is hot I have to finish tightening it by using the pliers.

Remember - hot metal bends. [yikes!]

It's suuuuper important that you don't screw it in too tightly or be too rough while messing with a hot point.

How to Clean Them

There are several good ways to keep these points clean (and you WANT to, because a clean tip burns sooooo much better than a dirty tip).

I go over my favorite cleaning tools in this little article down here.

Here's another lovely little article to satisfy your burning curiosity on cleaning tools and which ones are best for which pyrography machine.

A few things I Don't Like...

It's Hard to Hold

Using one of these babies feels more like you’re drawing with one of those "fat" permanent markers. Or bigger.

If you're like me, you really have to focus on relaxing that grip.

My hand cramps up way faster with a solid-point burner just because of that wider grip.

They make some slightly thinner versions now, but I'm not sure I'm in love with them.

The Stand

The stand is supposed to protect your table from getting burned by your woodburning tool...

...but you have to secure the stand to the table, or both your stand AND your hot pen go sliding off the table to burn a nice new hole in your carpet. (Ask me how I know.)

I usually tape mine down, which solves it.

But I don't like having to use tape everytime I bust out my solid-point burners for the local classes I teach.

It's sloooowwww

If you're a patient soul, this shouldn't be a problem. But if you're patience level suffers, this might be a real struggle for you.

They are slow to heat up.

It takes about 3-5 minutes before it's actually hot enough to do anything.

They are slow to cool down.

Like *foooooorever*.

Wood burning art is already a slow process. If your solid-point burner doesn't have a temperature regulator (a little dial or button to control the heat settings), then it's even slooooower at burning.

Some people like the slow. It helps them meditate in a way - just zone out and burn.

So in that way, slow can be actually quite calming.

Less Control

There are a limited number of solid-point tip styles, so you're pretty much limited to what those tips can do.

Granted, if you really work at it you can pretty much do the same work with a solid-point woodburning pen as you can with a wire-nib pen.

But the wire-nib tools have such a variety of tips that it's easier to get the specific style you want with a wire-nib instead of a solid-point burner.


Quick Overview of the Solid-Point Woodburning Pen

Why Should You Buy This?

  • They're cheap, under $50
  • The overall size is nice - there's no "machine" to haul around like the wire-nib burners

The Downsides

  • The pen is thicker and hard to grip.
  • It's slow to heat up and cool down.
  • You don't always have control over the heat, so you have to rely heavily on your technique.
  • Stand has to be taped down (or "secured")

My Opinion...

I used a solid-point burner for my first year when I first started my Etsy shop. It did NOT have anything to control the heat and only had about 4 points I could actually use.

Hard and slow as it was, I successfully taught myself how to do lettering, shading, all the things a woodburning artist wants to do.

So you CAN use it successfully as a professional.

But I was blown away with the difference a simple temperature control made. Then a quality wire-nibbed tool entered my life. It changed my wood burning world forever and I've never looked back!

That said, I still use the solid-point machines in my classes - because they're still good little burners.

IS It right for YOu?

The solid-point woodburning pen could be right for you if...

  • you're new and not sure you even like wood burning yet
  • your budget falls under $50
  • you have the patience for the slow heat up, cool down, and overall burn time.

In other words - if you're a beginner on a tight budget, this is a good place to start. Again, I look at these like the "compact car" industry. They are fairly practical and low cost.

*But if you get one, get one with heat controls.

My Favorite Solid-Point Burner

The Walnut Hollow Versa Tool

Find the Versa Tool on Amazon

Burn Savvy Home > Choosing a Woodburning Tool > Solid-Point Woodburning Pen

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