Robert Sorby Pyrography Machine

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Words and photos: Andrew Potocnik

Pyrography is the art of drawing with a heated tool. You can burn patterns, textures and even intricate pictures into the surface of wood and other materials.


The basic Peter Child Artist Pyrography Machine kit comes with a power unit and a ‘pen’ into which nibs are fitted (six spares are included). At times an extra pen would be handy to save swapping nibs. The machine can be used on wood, leather, cork, certain plastics and fabric but I focused on its use on wood.

Best results are achieved on hard white wood, in fact the harder the surface the better the result. Dark woods can be used but won’t give such a good contrast. Soft woods such as pine are difficult to work with, as resin will gum up the tip. You can even work on veneer that has been applied to a substrate.


The nibs heated up within seconds, even the thicker coil. They are easy to clamp in place with two small screws at each end and come in fine, medium, spoon and coil varieties, and you can create your own by bending the supplied Nichrome wire into other shapes.

Most work is done with the standard tip and spoon point which enables contact with a larger area of wood and is used for shading. Its edge can also be used for fine lines, fur, feathers, grass and so on.

The coil tip develops a lot of heat for heavy lettering such as signs. When used just above the surface of wood, it can create a soft edged ‘toast’ effect. Light and even pressure combined with speed of stroke will give the best result.

Hesitation will result in a ‘blob’ as the tip will burn for longer and produce a deeper or wider burn. For a thick line, move the point slowly so it burns longer rather than increasing the heat of the tip. For a fine line move the point quickly with little pressure, starting and finishing the stroke in the air to avoid ending up with a blob at either end.


The pen stayed cool throughout the trial however and was comfortable to use. It’s also quite light and the wires did not hinder free hand movement. The heat control dial allows a broad adjustment range so nibs can be just the right temperature for the task at hand.

The 12 page booklet describes how to make the most of the kit and how to deal with different woods, and advises on appropriate finishing processes. For any aspiring pyrographer or one already grounded in this art, this kit has the means and information to help you turn your dreams into a successful result.

Review machine supplied by Carbatec:


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