Burnt Wood Decor with a Small Butane Torch

Burnt Wood Decor with a Small Butane Torch

Butane torch burning pine wood

Let's take an unfinished pine organizer and burn it, stain it, then finish it!I love to paint, but woodworking is just so much fun, and I immerse myself in it more than any other art form. Just picture yourself lakeside with some sharp hand tools, and the smell of burnt fresh pine in the air. That is where I end up when I create woodwork. So whether in the garage, or the cottage, my favourite pastime is creating something different. 

An unfinished mini bookshelf

The organizer was actually a test box that I made from leftover pine from a custom mantel slipcover. Prior to assembly, I practiced a few things including hand carving the edges, hand distressing the wood with various techniques, and of course burning! I did not use a measuring tape at any point in creating the box, and only used manual tools (butane torch excluded). It looks like a bookshelf, but I intend to place felt in the back, and lay it flat. Speaking of which, I do intend on creating a blog for a burnt wood Anxiety Bookshelf very soon, so check back in for updates.

So here we are, with a full butane torch, and a little handmade pine box. I have experience with torched wood decor but have not used a torch this small, so I am curious to see what the burn radius and fuel consumption ad up. Most importantly, I am looking forward to that smell. Aromatherapy is natural burnt wood, good luck changing my mind on that one!

A butane torch with a butane refill canister, sitting on a pine wood board.


  • Butane Torch
  • Butane Refill- Many are universal, but make sure that the refill can's fitting is correct for your torch. You will see these specifications on your butane torch manual, and the can's information specifics.
  • Pine Wood Boards- Or a weird fully assembled organizer.
  • Foam Brushes
  • Wood Stain
  • Gloss Wood Finish
  • Fire Extinguisher (for obvious reasons) 

DISCLOSURE: Before we begin, please confirm that you are outdoors, or in an incredibly ventilated workshop/garage. We are manipulating one of nature's elements, and have to respect its potential no matter what size of flame we begin with. Burning wood for decor can be extremely dangerous if not practiced with safety first, and respect as a close second. If you have any hesitation or safety concerns, please do not try this at home, and do not allow anyone under legal age practice unsupervised. Flare-ups, and surprises are bound to happen, so we must remain calm, and have a fire extinguisher at the ready.

Yellow sign reading 'safety first'

Let's Begin

You have a high level of control when using a small butane torch, but the burn will spread, so if you are intent on straight, crisp lines, your best bet is to brand the wood with a heated metal stamp. Our goal here is to 'paint' the entire organizer with a goal of visualizing the effects of each passing. 

As you can see, there is a small burn in the back of the organizer from the previous project. That is the look of just enough heat to leave a burn, so consider going light at the start, and coming back for more layers. With each layer, the burn travels deeper in to the heart of the wood, and accents the denser areas.

A small pine bookshelf.

But First

Make sure to clean your wood of any loose particles of dust, debris, and shavings. We want a clean, prepared surface to achieve the best results safely. Once more, double check your work area; Do you have protective gear? Is your space clear of flammable objects? Is your butane torch filled? Consider all common issues prior to burning.

The Fun Part

You're excited to get this going, and since we are burning the entire unit, you did not have to specifically plan for a concentrated burn (we will go into this another time). Your torch is full, and you've read the manuals and watched the videos on how to use the butane torch safely and effectively. I will not go into the specifics of how to operate the butane torch as there are different units with different mechanisms, but the end product is the same; Butane is forced out of the torch, and a spark is created through friction to ignite the butane. Most torches are adjustable, if you are not using an adjustable torch you will move the torch closer, or further from the wood to achieve different burn depths. 

First Pass

We will use the torch to 'paint' the wood similar to a spray paint can. We will bring the fire to the wood from the edge and 'drag' it across the surface. As you can see, the burn is not one hundred percent consistent, but is concentrated enough to target specific areas. This will help us control things, as opposed to simply setting the whole box on fire, and hoping for the best. 

Butane torch burning pine wood decor.

Once the first pass is complete, we can really get an idea of what the fire does for the details in the wood grain. Here's a close up...

Close up of burnt pine wood board.

Second Pass

By now you're likely feeling it. That child-like feeling of watching dad start a campfire that one time with gasoline, or that time you lit your first firework. Sure, it is very fun, but once again, please remember that you are controlling can be unpredictable and dangerous. With that in mind, we begin our second pass. This time, we will burn any areas that we may have missed the first time over. 

When looking at the image below, you will see darker, more shiny areas. This is created from the angle of my image, and highlights the finish that we are going for. One more pass, and we will be burnt to my satisfaction.

A butane torch burned pine wood.

Final Pass

We all have our preferences so you may have stopped after the first, or you may be excited for another few passes to get a nice charred look. Were going to stay right here after our third and final pass. Our odd shaped, scrap-built wood organizer is now starting to look pretty cool. Now it's time to stain.


Varathane Stain and Finish for our burnt wood decor.
Close up of a foam brush with the miniature bookshelf in the background.

Stain and Finish

I decided to go with some leftover 'Early American' stain and Diamond Finish: Gloss by Varathane. You can get it at Home Depot. Staining and finishing will be saved for another blog, for now, we will use two coats of stain, and three coats of gloss finish. I absolutely love the look and versatility of this stian colour, each layer ads a significant amount of depth with a nice even finish. After the finish is cured, ill flip this bookcase/ organizer on its back and add some felt for my items.

Black felt inserted into the small finished bookshelf.

Before Stain and Finish:

Mini bookshelf organizer before stain and finish.


Stained and finished burnt wood decor.

And there we have it...

 We took some scrap wood, made an organizer, burned it, and finished it. Believe me, it is a welcome upgrade to the beat up tackle box that was used before. I brought it out for the picture, now it's time to place it back home.

Burnt wood organizer sitting beside a couch.

Thanks for reading!


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