If you have ever tried woodburning, you know that it can be time-consuming and rather uneventful. This instructable aims to change that. Let’s create beautifully intricate fractals in seconds using high voltage electricity.

In order to create this design you will need the following:
  • Fan
  • Wood
  • Water
  • Water Container
  • Brushes
  • Microwave Transformer(s)
  • Extension Cords (Optional)
  • Jumper Cables
  • Bucket or Stand
  • Electricity Supply
Step 1: Saftey

Please be aware of the inherent risks of this project, and make an informed decision on whether you should try it or not.

Step 2: Power Source

Before we start any woodburning, we need a power source. Any high voltage power source will work. We use two transformers wired in parallel but it is possible to Woodburn with only one. I would recommend using two for larger pieces as just one will not supply enough power. I have included a simple diagram on how to wire the transformers above.

Step 3: Finding the Right Wood

In order to create the best lightning figure possible, we need to find the right type of wood. Any kind of wood will work, but varying thickness, species, and grain direction will all result in different looks. Electricity will always travel on the path of least resistance (usually the grain) so keep this in mind when setting up your piece. Going against the grain can create mixed results.

Step 4: Increasing the Conductivity of the Wood

In order to allow the electricity to flow through the wood, we need to lower the resistance. This is done through a thin coating of water. Water alone is not a great conductor so we will need to add either baking soda or salt. You should aim to have your piece saturated, not moist. Depending on how much water you add, there will be a different end result.

Step 5: Hooking Everything Up

Once you have brushed the solution onto the wood, its time to hook everything up. Connect the positive and negative leads from the transformers to each of the ends of the wood. Notice how the leads are connected so that the electricity follows the grain. A great idea from The Backyard Scientist was to hook up a fan to the electricity coming from your house. This not only puts out any fires that commonly start when burning but also creates a way to visually see if the circuit is live.

Step 6: Plugging It In

Now that all the setup is done, its time to fire it up. Plug in the transformers and you should start to see the electricity burning the wood. It will create cool lightning patterns. It is up to you when to turn it off, but I generally stop once the two figures from each of the leads meet. This is usually accompanied by the main channel that was burned catching on fire.

Step 7: Finishes

After burning your wood, just a few minutes to clean it up; it will look a thousand times better. All you have to do is brush the charred material out with a garden hose and a scrub brush. 

 

 

*Disclaimer: We are not responsible for damage done to you, others, or property. Using high voltage electricity comes with inherent risks, so be sure to wear all appropriate safety gear and never do this alone.*

This instructable was inspired by The Backyard Scientist.