View Full Version : Writing on Wood/Preserving Wood

02-09-2009, 03:33 AM
Hello All! I am a very inexperienced wood crafter, so don't judge me too harsh on my questions.

I want to use a wood "cookie" or slab from the aspen tree we had to cut down in our front yard and write an anniversary message to my husband on it.

However, I don't know what to use to write on it (I don't want to burn it in, as I don't have the tools). I'm not sure how to stencil on it, but if you could all let me know what the best way is to write a message on a wood slab, I would be very appreciative.

Also, how do I preserve this? Lacquer it? Will that make the writing bleed or darken? Please be very thorough with your responses if possible. As I said before, I'm a beginner! Thanks so much!!

02-09-2009, 11:45 AM
There are probably loads of methods for doing this, but this is mine (and it works well for me).

I give the wood a quick rub down with sandpaper.

I coat the wood with acrylic satin varnish. It's water-based, goes on milky but dries clear (quick to dy and non-smelly).

I may give the wood a rub down again at this point with sandpaper.

I give the wood a second coat of varnish. Two thin coats are much better than one thick one. You can add as many as you like though.

I write on the varnished piece with a permanent marker. Sharpies are good, and they come in a variety of thicknesses. I write freehand, depends on if you like the way you write!! If I need to check the spacing, I try it out on paper first.

If you want to add any painted detail, do it either before varnishing, or after the first coat. If you think the wood needs sealing first, you can do this with a mix of PVA glue and water. Use a good quality acrylic paint. Liquitex soft body is my choice, it's a fab paint with good coverage and will last, from Ken Bromley (they aslo do waterproof artist pens in black and sepia, which are fab for this purpose and very fine).

I'm not any sort of an expert on wood, and I don't know how fresh your slices are. Someone else may know if they need to season, like they do when you're burning them in a log fire.

Sounds a fab project - good luck and hope it goes well.

02-09-2009, 08:58 PM
I use ordinary felt tips to colour the tops and leave them to dry thoroughly then wax polish. I would assume that you could do the same thing. Make sure the wood is really well sande first or the ink will spread in the grain and look blurred....unless you want that effect. Whatever you do practice on a little bit of scrap first just in case. I think Aspen is a very soft wood by the way so the ink will spread more if not sanded down first.


02-09-2009, 09:35 PM
You could use 'Lettraset' or something like that, but as a easy one off method go out and buy a 'Pigment ink' drawing pen. Pilot and Berol make them, they are the only ink marker I have found that doesn't smudge when polishing after marking. Cost usually about 2, and they come in different nib sizes from .1mm to approx. .7mm.

Most of these felt tips make a right mess if you use any sort of finish which contains thinners over them, but not a Pigment pen. You can also put it straight onto sanded wood. Just make sure it is marked 'Pigment ink' on the side.

02-09-2009, 10:07 PM
Most of these felt tips make a right mess if you use any sort of finish which contains thinners over them, but not a Pigment pen. You can also put it straight onto sanded wood. Just make sure it is marked 'Pigment ink' on the side.

Agreed, left to dry and wax polished seems to work OK for me but will check out thoise pens myself, thanks


03-09-2009, 02:00 AM
Thanks everyone for your help thus far, but I have one more question. What about stenciling? I don't have the best handwriting, so this may be any option. Is there any trick to that? Can I use any sort of press-on letters?

03-09-2009, 08:59 AM
'Lettraset' are rub on lettering, buy in any decent stationers, or buy a plastic stencil template and use the 'Pigment ink' pen to trace round them, you could then fill in the letters, or leave as a surround . No doubt there are lots of other stick on letter sets around, you should have a fair choice in any craft shop or stationers.

11-09-2009, 04:45 AM
With the 'Pigment ink' drawing pen, do you varnish the wood before writing on it or after writing on it?

11-09-2009, 08:26 AM
I would varnish the wood first - you get a nice neat line on varnished wood, with no chance of bleed.

Also, sometimes varnish can smear the ink line when you varnish on top of the writing.

I've tried it both ways, and writing on bare wood can work, but it's riskier.

11-09-2009, 09:08 AM
I always use it on the bare wood, it will fade slightly if you rub the finish hard over it, but have never seen it smudge like a felt tip does. As long as it is left to dry properly first. Occasionally I have use one coat of sanding sealer, sanded with 400grit before writing, then rubbing the finish on, but it does seem to fade more with this method.

Must admit though, I do use a pyrography pen on my bigger and better pieces.