Turn A Cheap Wood Burning Tool Into A Variable WoodBurning Tool
Posted on September 11, 2011
DISCLAIMER: As you will see, I am not an electrician thus I will not accept liability if this ‘mod’ burns your house down. If it’s any consolation, it hasn’t burned my house down … yet.
Here is the single temperature woodburning tool that I bought for under £20:
It’s the Weller WHK30W model, which you can get from Amazon and many other places, and comes with 8 different tips which screw into the end of the tool. The only down side of this cheap tool is that it only does one temperature. More expensive tools allow you to turn the temperature up/down via a control box so that you can get several different shades/tones of burning. So, I decided to botch my own control box.
The ‘control box’ is just a plug (which will go in your wall socket) which goes to a dimmer switch, normally used for lighting, which goes to a plug socket (or a double in my case). The idea is that the dimmer will raise/lower the voltage going to the tool thus raising/lowering the temperature. Whether this is safe or not I’ve no idea, but it works! You could, of course, go straight from the dimmer to the wood burning tool, but I wanted to keep the moulded plug on the tool. I want to be able to unplug it and at least contain the blaze in my house.
Now the time consuming bit. As you can see, I’ve got it marked (with an ink pen) with O (Off), L, M, and H. This is my own gauge of Low, Medium, and High. I also marked mine LL this is just my reminder that this is the absolute lowest I can go, touch LL and it’ll hardly make a mark. The dimmer full on is, of course High. What you then need to do is turn the dimmer to half off and see if the wood burning tool is warm enough to even burn the wood. If not, turn it up a bit. You need to keep doing this until you get the woodburning tool to where it’s marking the wood just and no more. This is now Low. Between Low and High is, of course, Medium. Takes a little while to get the Low setting in as the tool takes a few minutes to heat up to its maximum (for the dimmer setting). Be patient!
At the end, you’ll have a variable temperature woodburning tool!
Now you’ll be able to do many different shades of burning onto your wood. Remember, you don’t need to do L. M or H, you can do Low then maybe do some Low/Medium tones then do Medium and so on. It’s variable!