How To Make Fish Carvings Using Wood Burning for Pyrography

In its literal translation, pyrography simply means “writing with fire.” It is a type of art where the artist attempts to decorate wood and other items or material with meticulously designed wood burns through the controlled application of heat on its subject.

This technique dates back to the times even before Christ, as Egyptians and some South African tribes tried to preserve their culture through engraving symbols and images on wood. However, great architects from the 19th century attempted to improve on this art by incorporating basic wood burning materials with chemicals and even colors that would add décor and texture to their works of art.

Nowadays, pyrography is but a hobby for people. Nevertheless, it is not an easy one since it entails a lot of skill and patience. Some people even like to take their skill in pyrography a notch higher as they try to make fish carvings using the wood burning materials for pyrography.

Sounds a little complicated huh? To learn more here are the steps and materials that you will need. 


  • Light colored wood (You can choose between birch or sycamore.)
  • Wood burning tool (Any will do. You can use a heated metal rod, plain sunlight magnified with a lens or a soldering iron. It does not matter for as long as you know how to control the heat.)
  • A fish (for carving)
  • Scale tips (different sizes)

Now for the procedures. Just follow these steps in making fish carvings using wood burning for pyrography.

  • Using your light colored wood, start sketching the figure of your fish onto the material. Whether you want a 2-D or 3-D fish would be up to you. If you opt for the latter, first carve the shape of your fish before working on the intricate details like the scales and fins. Make sure that you leave some excess wood to give room for errors. 
  • Burn the outlines of the fish using your wood-burning tool. If you are working on a 2-D carving, begin with the outmost area thus moving into the details—the fins, the scales and the eves. While keeping your strokes consistent, start creating smooth lines with quick movements of your hand while applying little pressure on your wood burner. This would give your carving a realistic effect.  

  • Master the details. You would not want your fish carving to look flat, do you? So using the variety of scale tips that you have, start carving on the scales and fins of your fish. It is better to use not just one size of scale tip to give your carving a more complex look. 
  • Create shadows. To give it a nice effect, shade some areas in your fish carving by deepening the colors of the fin and eyes. This can be done by burning over the lines in those areas again and again with the same light pressure and strokes.

Though challenging, making fish carvings with pyrography tools can be so much fun and exciting. What better way to express yourself most especially if you are into flaunting your catch!


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