A question we see a lot is, as the title of this post suggests, Which is best? Pyrography Pens or a Soldering Iron? Before we answer that question we need to look at the significance each tool had on the industry. The invention and first mass production of the soldering iron in 1921 was a huge breakthrough for pyrography. Before that, artists had to manually heat a tool in a fire and reheat it frequently during work, so creating art was a lengthy and slow process. For a definitive guide please read our post here.
Pyrography Pen VS Soldering Iron
So naturally, when the first mechanical tools were created, it made doing pyrography a lot more enjoyable for artists and gave new life to the art. Since the invention of the soldering iron, a huge number of machines have been created for pyrography and continue to be refined and upgraded today.
The Humble Soldering Iron
A soldering iron itself is not designed for doing pyrography; they’re made for melting solder and connecting different things together. Soldering irons tend to have iron or copper tips and they aren’t pointed like proper woodburning pens are.
When it comes to doing pyrography with a soldering iron, it is possible, but not as simple as using a proper pyrography pen. Solid-point burners and craft-style pens are the woodburning relatives of the soldering iron.
They have brass tips and, like the soldering iron, they have a set temperature and can take a little while to heat up and a bit longer to cool down again.
For doing detailed and intricate work, they aren’t suitable. Their set temperature and nibs mean it’s very difficult to get a range of effects from them, and so for the most part craft-style pens are limited to doing outlines and writing words.
Wire-nib Burners and their Ability to Achieve
Pyrography pens nowadays are made with nichrome wire tips; while there is a whole lot of science-y words and explanations why, basically it’s because nichrome doesn’t deteriorate from the heat like many other conductive metals, meaning your tips will last alot longer.
The wire-nib burner is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment. They’re designed so you can switch between tips as you go with ease, and the machines have a range of temperatures you can adjust for whatever it is you’re working with.
With a wire-nib burner, a pyrographer can get all manners of lines and detailed shading. The machines only take seconds to heat up and cool down and the pens are much more comfortable to hold than soldering iron-style pens in general.
Because pyrography is so open to individual styles and a huge range of materials it can be done on, having a versatile tool like a wire-nib burner can be a huge advantage.
You, as the Consumer
In the end, which you decide to use is entirely up to you. Depending on what you want to do with pyrography, you might choose either tool.
Generally speaking it’s not a bad idea to invest in a wire-nib burner even if you don’t intend to be doing a lot of intricate work, since they’re more comfortable to use and heat up and cool down a lot faster.
But if you’re wanting a solid and simple tool you can use to create bold and long-lasting lines with, then you may find you prefer the idea of a solid-point pen.