Western Red Cedar Bowl

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Project by BarbS posted 07-15-2011 04:52 PM 2033 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first experiment in pyrography. This little 4” red cedar bowl was torched on the outside before carving and painting the cuts with a copper leaf pen. I wasn’t sure how to ‘seal’ the burned surface after wiping off all the carbon. What a mess! Not to mention the wide-eyed surprise of flames leaping from the wood when I lingered too long at any one point, heh heh. It felt like I was building a camp fire there for a minute. For the finish, I decided on spray poly, but didn’t like it much, as it left a thicker surface than I like. I may have sprayed it too close in, though. I’ve been advised to find some ‘Clear Acrylic’ spray instead of polyurethane. Interesting effects with burning. I’ll probably use it on other pieces, but I’m hoping hardwoods won’t ‘light up my life’ as quickly as this cedar did!


8 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4241 days

#1 posted 07-15-2011 05:02 PM

Nice effect, Barb, but be careful!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3905 days

#2 posted 07-15-2011 05:21 PM

Wonderful little piece, Barb.

Thanks for bringing a smile to my face,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2943 days

#3 posted 07-15-2011 05:56 PM

This is a really cool bowl. The technique opens a whole new world for you, Barb!

Great job! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20589 posts in 3128 days

#4 posted 07-15-2011 06:57 PM

Neat bowl, Barb. My experience with finishing red cedar is narrowed down to stain and waxing. When ever I tried to varnish, lacquer or poly it , it peeled. I have heard the natural oils resist that top coating. But you may have burned all the oils out of that puppy. Neat technique to keep in my old memory bank!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View CLSida's profile


7 posts in 2540 days

#5 posted 07-15-2011 08:41 PM

Beautiful. Have you tried watco/ danish oil? It gives a luster but it’s not over the top.

View michelletwo's profile


2744 posts in 3038 days

#6 posted 07-15-2011 09:24 PM

cedar oil..good to learn on a small piece eh?? A big bowl might have burned the house down!!! cute little piece.

View peteg's profile


4298 posts in 2846 days

#7 posted 07-15-2011 10:21 PM

You’re realy getting tricky now Barb, this is a little beautie, what I do with timber after pyro work is wash it with some Acetone on a rag & that cleans of the smoke residue etc & gives you a clean surface to “play” with,
Never used W Red Cedar, but if you have an oof cut burn it up the same clean it of and try a thinned down danish or teak oil virtually wipe on wipe of & leave it a week or so then try a spay on acrtlic in several very light coats.
Nice form on this one I like the rolled over top lip well done :)))

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4108 days

#8 posted 07-15-2011 10:31 PM

acetone! That’s what I needed to hear. Thanks, Pete. I really needed something to get the last of the carbon wiped clean; it’s incredibly messy. And Michelle, Cedar Oil is some of the most expensive stuff in the world! I’ve been using Danish oil, but the black burned surface just remains absolutely flat under it, coat after coat. I’ll have to go get some spray on clear acrylic. That sounds like the answer to ‘seal’ the black surface. Thanks, people.
I have another Red Cedar bowl drying with oil right now. I’ll post a picture later tonight, probably.
Back to the shop; back to work.


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