Finishing Your Projects with FIRE!

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This entire project started out as a test for another one that my friend and I have been arguing about. It all comes down to drinking games.. My friend has been bugging me to make another large run of corn hole boards but he also wants to get into intricate designs on them. Knowing how much time both of us don’t have and hearing him talk about how he wants to do some wood burning, I tried to come up with a better way. Especially after remembering the amount of time it took for me to burn in my MonoLoco Monkey boards.

I remembered a long while ago seeing some really cool finishes online where stacks of wood flooring or sighting would get torched. After it was all sufficiently roasted, they hosted it down, scraped off the majorly burnt parts and put a clear coat on. I instantly fell in love with it and stuck it in my mind for a future day like this one.

 

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For some unknown reason, my friend had a wolf cut out of aluminum which we decided to use for our template piece. Neither the aluminum nor the test wood was flat so using a basic stapler, I closed any gaps and got the template as close to the wood as possible.

 

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Using one of those armageddon propane powered weed  torches that you’ll find on most farms, I quickly roasted everything that wasn’t covered by the protective aluminum template in a matter of about 5 seconds. This particular test was using birch plywood and if I remember right, the regular pine took a bit longer so I’m sure all types and forms of wood will very.

 

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Before touching anything, I made sure to get my gloves on. Both the template and board were hot to the touch for the rest of the process. It probably wasn’t a good idea to wear flip-flops in case one of those red-hot staples I was removing flew down and landed on my foot. Luckily they only landed right next to my foot. 🙂
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I’m pretty sure everybody is familiar with the black charcoal left over after burning wood and this isn’t any different. The top layer will rub off on your hands and cloths so I just gave it a very light sanding and then applied a wipe on polyurethane as a protective clear coat. This basically locked the rest of the black and brown colored charcoal in and kept anymore from rubbing off. At this point the board and template were still pretty warm to the touch.

 

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For just being a test I think this turned out pretty awesome! I could even see this and similar designs making it to craft show benches all over the place. I know for sure that if I ever make it to a craft show, I’ll have this wold and hopefully a few other neat designs to show off as extras to my main attractions.
On a side note, I don’t plan on using aluminum for all of my templates unless they are going to be more “popular” ones. I should soon have a CNC and plan on carving some templates using regular 1/4″ hard board. I know it won’t last long but I don’t plan on using the same templates and designs over and over again. If I need them to last a little longer I might try out some of that fire resistant spray paint. Then if push comes to shove, the CNC will cut aluminum so that will of course always be an option.

Lessons Learned

  • The closer the template is to the board the sharper the result is going to be. This doesn’t always mean it will look better though. Sometimes the blurry edges add some cool and unique effects.
  • Fire is dangerous and HOT so be careful and safe. I did this in the opening of my garage but was pointed outside and had a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Did I mention fire is hot? I didn’t burn myself but even when I was all done, the board was still uncomfortable to touch for extended periods of time. Either let it cool down or get some nice gloves to help you finish fast.
  • And the best lesson ever is one that I actually learned as a little boy. Fire is AWESOME!

 

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