I picked up a cool new tool before the holiday season; it was an inexpensive investment as far as tools go, and the creativity it grants me hath no boundaries. I should have known from all those years as a child and young adult facinated with burning and charring wood–an interest which undoubtedly makes me sound like a manic and will probably land me on some FBI Bloggers To Watch list but really just means that I loved me some campfires–that I would really love the power granted by my new little Weller 15-piece woodworking and hobby set. It was just $18-ish at Lowe’s (equivalent to 4 venti mochas).
Really, the task I had in mind went back to something Pete had asked for at Christmastime (even included in his man/dad list): Paint brushes. And not just any paint brushes, his own paint brushes. Something about how I’m not diligent enough to clean our brushes as thoroughly as him and blah, blah, you should have seen how strict they were about cleaning our art brushes at Pratt, blah blah, and I’m not meaning to make him look like a guy who hates his woman using the paint brushes, it’s sort of true, I lack patience in the paint brush cleaning department and most days I’d rather just toss out the dirty one instead of having to clean it. Especially when it’s oil-based project related, those brushes just need to die. A slow and painful crushing death in the back of a garbage truck.
I digress, it was about time for Pete to have his own set, really, his own set of paint brushes that I could swear to never use. I figured it was a worthy investment, this little set of mid-quality brushes will probably last him the rest of his painting life. I tried to cover all bases too, the latex, the oil-based, the stains that he will encounter from here until infinity.
Back to the new tool. The rationale behind getting it was, in essence, so I could brand Pete’s tools as his. I’m hoping that labeling all of Pete’s paint brushes will help me avoid temptation to use them, even when they’re at their most convenientest. That ain’t a word, right?
I did a lot of testing with this tool when I brought it home. The set comes with a lot of different tips that would lend themselves to different designs and crafts, and when it’s on, it’s hot. There’s a long list of things you should not do or be near when you’re using this type of instrument, so make sure you read the manufacturer’s recommendations; I chose to work over a piece of scrap wood attentively, so I didn’t accidentally melt the countertop or burn the coffee table or, you know, maybe set the living room on fire whilst distracted by Person of Interest.
My first planned efforts, outside of doodling my name about 4,000 times on said piece of scrap wood like it was my 8th grade english folder, was to make a bunch of simple hangtags for a few extra keys we had made recently. I used scrap wood as the basis for these keychains, first drilling a substantial hole through them so that they could be hung on a keyring, and then slowly burnt through the surface of the wood pieces to permanently label them as ours.
Writing took a bit of getting used to, because you’re not able to hold the heated tool close to the tip like you would a pen or pencil. Your hand is about 3″ away from the tip that you are trying to smoothly move, so it takes (and will continue to take) a lot of practice. They turned out pretty nicely, as far as first efforts go, if I do say so myself.
With the tags finished, I moved onto my next branding assignment in secret: labeling Pete’s brushes before Christmas.
The tool doesn’t actually burn the wood as fast as you’d expect – it’s not instantaneous as you’re dragging the hot tip along the surface, only when it’s paused in place, which is why the beginning and end of each line appears heavier, darker, more burnt. The tool itself works best on a flat and unobstructed wood surface, to which I mean that the fewer grains in the wood, the easier and more consistent the finished lettering will be.
Unlike the defined grains in my test pieces, the paint brushes were very smooth, but it’s still obvious how the wood burns differently when you’re dragging the hot tip versus letting it sit still on the wood.
The finished set of Pete Brushes turned out really nicely. He liked them too, and then complimented me for reading his blog (so Barney Stinson). I have not yet dared to use any, only my old grimy brushes, which I suppose is a good indication of my self control.
I have more projects in mind for this hot new tool, but in the meantime, do any of you own one? How and where have you used it?