George Vondriska

Torching Wood

George Vondriska
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Duration:   3  mins

Everything old becomes new again! For instance, using a propane torch to char the surface of a piece of wood, changing its color. Torching wood is something that has been around for a really long time. It’s an interesting way to change a wood’s color without using stain or dye.

Making it happen

Torching wood is waaaay more art than science. It’s something that you have to mess around with and get a feel for. Results are sort of predictable, but not completely. There are lots of variables. Many propane torches have interchangeable tips creating a more diffuse, or concentrated, flame. More concentrated = more heat = more charring.

Material selection will also affect the end result. Softwoods char more readily than hardwoods. A few examples are shown in the video. Pine and cedar will char very easily, with dramatic results. Hard maple, not so much. Experiment, and see what you like best.

You can follow torching wood with some sanding, which will lighten the color, add a topcoat, which may change the color, or experiment with staining over the char to really get some interesting things going.


Lots of woodworkers get apprehensive when it comes to finishing their projects. It’s understandable. So much effort goes into the build, and a misstep in finishing can turn the clock back, a lot. If you want to take some of the fear out of finishing, we’re here to help. If charring wood isn’t your thing, you might be interested in making homemade wood stain. In addition to staining and coloring wood, we’ve got more videos on wood finishing that will help you get the best possible finish on your next project.

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4 Responses to “Torching Wood”

  1. marksjohnson

    Recommendations for final finishes that work particularly well or not as well?


    Shou Sugi Ban. An acquired taste to be sure, but it can be beautiful when done with care. Thanks.

  3. Woody

    The point of several DIY program examples of flame treating wood is not the coloration, but the weathrtproofing! An old Japanese treatment for wood preservation.

  4. Michael Bradford

    Terrible way he went about conveying the info on torching wood. A child could do the same with a torch. A child that was showed how to patiently use the torch to bring out the veins and knots of the piece would show the artistic way that most can make a plain board beautiful. Add poly urethane after and you have a masterpiece.

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