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Pyrography Question

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Emiliano Achaval, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    I have to admit that my knowledge about pyrography goes as far as burning my name and name of the wood on my work. I have used it to embellish work. I have a Burnmaster pen and one old Cub little controlling unit. My daughter has been collaborating on some work with me. Of course I'm impartial, but she's doing and done some very nice work. A few weeks ago I believe @Bill Boehme asked me what I was using... What I got out that thread is that if you are serious about pyrography, there are better units and pens. I want to surprise my daughter with the best pyro unit. Is the Burnamaster pen not as good as others? What do you guys recommend? Today she kept me company, she was burning all day. Was kind of nice to have her with me... While I was watching her, I was surprised by how little smoke, if any she was making. I mentioned this because I believe Bill asked me how much smoke comes out of the work with the pens that I have. Today she did some strings of flowers, leaves and more, not just lines, she's actually drawing first with a pencil, once she's happy she goes over with the burnmaster. Thanks in advance. Aloha
     
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  2. Bill Blasic

    Bill Blasic

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    Emiliano the Burnmaster Eagle is a very nice machine. It can be adjusted way down power wise. I personally have 3 other brands but I always seem to pull out the Burnmasters. For the record I have the Optima, the Razortip, the Cub and three Burnmasters, (had Molly Winton here for a few days of hands on, made sure there were enough to go around). They all work and like anything else people have their favorites.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
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  3. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    I have the Optima and love it. I started with a Cub and could never accurately write with it. When I got the Optima and turned the power down it all came together. For decorative burning I use very low power which lets me control the lines better and keeps the heat down in the pen and produces little or no smoke. Learned that from Cynthia Gibson. I do very little branding style burning like Molly Winton so can't answer you on what is good for that Although I did buy one of the battery chargers that Greame Priddle recommended for his wood vaporizor. I just haven't wired it up yet. I do have a project I designed that will take that kind of power so might do it before long. I think the Burnmaster will handle both ends if I've read correctly.
     
  4. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    I have the Burnmaster Hawk. Nice unit, very reliable, and good control. However if I was buying today I would get the Optima from PJL. I only use pens from PJL anymore as the are better than the other brands IMO.
     
  5. egsiegel

    egsiegel

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    I have the RazorTip and am very happy.
    I have no experience with any of the other units...so take it for what it is worth.
     
  6. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    I have very little experience with the Burnmaster (other than testing them when I was shopping for a unit) I too have the Optima that I obtained from PJL. Quick heat, quick cool, precision power settings, and it has done everything that I wanted it to do with grace...and I agree with Mr. Rogers above in that I find that the pens from PJL are better than any other pens that I have used so far.
     
  7. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I have the Detail Master power supply which is no longer available but actually there's not much difference between any of them. The power supply consists of a step down transformer and a circuit card that allows the current to the pen to be adjusted with a potentiometer. The real difference is in the pens. The main problem with the Burnmaster pen is the soldering iron like design which makes it difficult to use it like a writing instrument. Also, the pens that have screw terminals to allow the use of different tips waste most of the heat in the screw connections rather than the tip. Any pen that uses crimp connections anywhere in its construction will also be wasting heat and cooking the users hand instead of the wood. Of all the pens currently available I would rate the Optima by far the best. Their patch cords that connect the pen to the power supply are also the most flexible and least lossy of all the cords available.

    It isn't necessary to have the same brand for both the power supply and pen. If you already have a power supply then it will work with just about any pen if you can get a suitable patch cord. Optima makes patch cords so that their pens can be used with any power supply.

    If torching wood and setting off smoke alarms is your thing then the battery charger is probably the right thing for you. If you want to go smokeless and emulate the fine art pyrography of Cynthia Cardin Gibson or Janice Levi then I would recommend the Optima pens.
     
  8. Mark Wollschlager

    Mark Wollschlager

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    I have the razortip single and dual units.
    After watching and speaking with Cynthia Gibson I bought the dual unit because it has a nice adjustment screw to turn down the heat a bit to get the finer lines with less overburn ( and smoke ).
    They have some nice handpieces with interchangeable tips that I use quite often. Inserting the tips can be a bit fiddly but they get good results.
     
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  9. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Thanks Bill for the illumination about pens. I have a Burnmaster and sometimes lately have to play with it to get the pen heated, so I am guessing it is in the pens. Also I was unaware that any pen would fit the unit.
     
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  10. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    Gerald, I have the PJL pens. I would also suggest you buy his patch cord (around $20). I set the dial 1/2 of what the burnmaster pen needs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
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  11. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Thank you everyone! I see that this is almost like asking tell me about your favorite gouge, or lathe... I’m curious about the Optima pens now, wonder if they will make a difference for her ... aMight have to try some... Aloha
     
  12. Mike Gibson

    Mike Gibson Recognized Professional Artist

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    Emiliano, Razortip, the duel unit, works like a dream.
     
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  13. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Thank you Mike!
     
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  14. Breck Whitworth

    Breck Whitworth Sharp Dressed Woodturner

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    I have the eagle burnmaster for heavy burning or large area burning,or homemade tip work, but for detail work the razor tip is my go to burner the tips are closer to my hand and are easier to do detail work with, to me anyway. The burnmaster tips stick out from the hand piece farther and make for a little more difficulty doing fine details. The type burning you do should be considered before purchasing a unit in my humble opinion. You can do it all with any of these fine units, but some are a little better for specific things than others.
     
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  15. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Thank you Breck. I appreciate your input.
     
  16. Terrance (Terry) Tjader

    Terrance (Terry) Tjader

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    I also bought the patch cord seems like heat control is better and the cord is more flexible in my opinion.
     
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  17. Terrance (Terry) Tjader

    Terrance (Terry) Tjader

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    Good information Breck. Also I like your pictured shop clothes.
     
  18. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Terry you mean that you wear clothes in the shop?;) Oh that picture of all those folks would have been good but that mug on the left just .....well.:):D
     
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  19. Mike Peace

    Mike Peace

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    I have an Optima based on the recommendation for a friend, one of those guys that analyzes everthing with a matrix and a spreadsheet, LOL. I believe there is very little difference between a RazorTip and the Optima except the Optima is a bit cheaper. I had two workshops with Cynthia Gibson. I mostly sign my name with the dial set at about 4.5 on a 10 point scale. Very little smoke.
     
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  20. Ken Kolano

    Ken Kolano

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    I know I'm coming into this discussion a couple of years late but I hope you guys can steer me in the right direction. I've been making basket illusion platters for a few years. It has been taking me about 5 "mind-numbing" hours to burn the radial lines on each side of my platters which are about 11" in diameter. I am using PCL pens to burn the lines because they fit the beads made by the D-way tools. The issue I'm having is my Razortip SK cannot keep up with me. I spend a lot of that 5 hours waiting for the tip to heat up after burning a bunch of lines even though I have the unit turned up to 10. Would a Burnmaster or Optima unit be able to keep up? The Razortip is only a few years old and hasn't been abused or overworked. I would appreciate any recommendations any of you might have.
     
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  21. Clifton C

    Clifton C

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    I would think the SK should keep up so I would look to other things, a few questions come to mind. Are you using an extension cord? If so, maybe a heavier or shorter extension cord or none. Is the cord from burner to pen at least 16 gauge? Are the connections good? Electrical things like clean, tight connections.
    Any heat felt along any of the cords, between house and unit and between unit and pen, is resistance, and will increase recovery time.
    Just a few thoughts, hope others will chime in, however, if you are looking to buy a new unit, you've come to the right place, we love helping folks spend money...:D
     
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  22. Ken Kolano

    Ken Kolano

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    Thanks for the ideas to check Clifton but I don’t use an extension cord. I plug directly into a wall outlet. I know my connections are tight. I learned that early in my wood burning adventures. The only thing I have not been able to check is the size of the power cord. After I received your reply I went down to check, as the size of the cable is usually printed on the jacket. Unfortunately the only thing printed on the jacket was www.razor tip.com. Which makes me think that maybe I should just contact them. Thanks for the offer to help me spend my money! I’ll keep it in mind the next time I have that problem.
     
  23. Chris Lawrence

    Chris Lawrence

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    I use the razor tip sk and have no problems with recovery time. Does the pen you are using have a tip with alot of mass? The more metal on the tip the more time it takes to to get it to temp but it holds temp a little longer.
     
  24. Tim Connell

    Tim Connell

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    Ken, I have the Optima and the 1/8" beading pen. I've only done one basket illusion piece and it was not as large as you are doing. Once or twice I recall having to wait a second or two for the pen to recover, but it wasn't something that I remember being a problem, or major delay. Was using hard maple for the bowl. If I remember correctly was only using a setting of 4.5 -5.

    One question I have is how "deeply" you are burning the beads. On my project, I tried to burn the beads lightly, with barely any smoke generated.

    An additional thought, are you cleaning the tip during your burning sessions? Carbon buildup can greatly hamper heat transfer.
     
  25. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I have to ask whether you're "branding" the wood or gently drawing on it? If you're sending up smoke signals then I would suggest that you turn the heat way down. I don't have any experience with the Razortip, but from your description of the recovery time, my guess is that you are using too much heat. I use a Detail Master Excaliber which is no longer available so I would recommend the Optima if you decide to get a new burner. On my Detail Master, I use a heat setting of about 3 on a scale of 0 - 10. At that setting, there is no glow from the pen tip nor any visible smoke ... maybe just a little when doing some shading.

    There are a couple of schools of thought on creating the basket illusion effect. One is the Harvey Meyer / David Nittmann style of burning radial lines to create a beaded effect. I prefer the Jim Adkins style of creating a realistic illusion of a coiled basket. When I am drawing the lines on the coils using the beading tool, I work pretty fast and burning two or three beads per second until my eyes get crossed and my hand starts cramping.

    Turning is the easy part, the pyrography is somewhat more labor-intensive, but coloring is what really consumes my time, and mistakes aren't easily fixed. Here is one of my early basket illusions that I called Double Diamondback". It is the largest basket illusion piece that I have ever made at 14½" in diameter and 3" deep, the wood is maple, and I used Copic inks.

    Native American Basket-small2.jpg
     
  26. Clifton C

    Clifton C

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    Ken, went to the razor site and it shows black cords as flexible (lighter gauge) and red for heavy duty. Never checked the output with a volt meter, but now I'm curious.
     
  27. Curtis Fuller

    Curtis Fuller

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    Ken, this is a long shot, but because I can't think of any reason why your Razortip SK wouldn't handle a PJL basketweave pen I'm wondering if it is really turned to the setting showing on the dial. The knob on most of these burners has a small set screw that holds it to the shaft of the gizmo that adjusts the heat. Could that set screw possibly be loose and the knob isn't turning the shaft like it should? I'm also curious if you've tried any other burning pens to see if they're having similar heating problems. Paul at PJL might also have an answer.
    Also, check the nut holding the heat control gizmo in the case and make sure it's tight and not letting the control gizmo turn inside the case.
     
  28. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Most of the time these potentiometers have fluted or half-round shafts so knob slipping wouldn't be an issue. Also, potentiometers have an anti-rotation tab, however, Murphy can thwart even the most foolproof designs. :D
     
  29. Curtis Fuller

    Curtis Fuller

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    Ya, potentiometer, that's the word I couldn't remember when I substituted gizmo. The knob on my Burnmaster has a small set screw. I've never removed it to see if the shaft has a flat on it.
     
  30. Tom Beatty

    Tom Beatty

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    I too am late to this thread. I have both the razortip and burnmaster. I started with the razortip and for most woodturning it works great. I use a variety of tips from different mfgs with good success. I purchased the burnmaster because I wanted to so some Molly Winston style branding and my older razortip would generate enough heat to do the branding efficiency. The Burnmaster does the branding nicely and will also do regular pyrography too. However I really do not like the Burnmaster pens due to size, so tend to use other brand pens. so it depends on what you want todo. If you want to do pyrography with shading and details, razortip is great and has a great variety of pens and tips
     
  31. Damon McLaughlin

    Damon McLaughlin

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    I also have a Burnmaster and like it a lot. The temperature range is wide enough to satisfy all of my burning needs. But the Burnmaster pen gets uncomfortable for me after a while. This can be bad if I'm on a roll and want to keep going but in a way its good because it forces me to take a short break every so often. I am able to use tips from a variety of manufacturers as well as my own in the Burnmaster pen.

    Several months ago I watched a demonstration on pyrography which was performed by Laurent Niclot in France. He had mentioned at the end of his demonstration that he makes his own pens and has been known to sell them. After a few email exchanges I ordered one of his pens, it arrived a couple of weeks later and included a few of Laurent's favorite tips. The pen is quite simple. Its thin size fits my small hands and is very comfortable to use for extended periods. The only time I feel the pen getting warm is if I using a rather large tip that requires a higher temperature. The pen came with a heavy duty cord and plugged right into my Burnmaster. This is my go to pen now, and if I had a dual pen unit I wouldn't hesitate to get another.
     
  32. Donna Banfield

    Donna Banfield

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    I watched Laurent's demo on coloring, and loved it so much I went back and paid to watch the earlier presentation on woodburning, (which is what Damon watched). Laurent's demo was very good, in that, it wasn't a slick studio production, but rather, he connected with his viewers in a way that is sometimes challenging through a video display. I would watch his videos again, and when he gets back to the states, I will try to get to a workshop that he is teaching.
     

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