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Water-Cooled Pyrography Iron

6 years ago, I was inspired to try burning images into wooden veneer. For my first attempts, I used a simple soldering iron. It didn’t have much temperature control and featured a rather uncomfortable hand grip. My hands would get tired or overheat after thirty minutes and I would have to stop my sessions early, making progress rather slow and tedious. Despite these challenges, I pushed on and became really engrossed in the artform. I found it to be a perfect compliment to the marquetry I was also trying around that time. I made several designs for box lids with my rudimentary setup.

At some point I got fed up of the cheap setup I had and started looking into a more expensive iron with better thermal insulation and a grip that was closer to the tip so that I could have more control of my strokes. Unfortunately the professional solutions were out of my hobbyist budget, and the inexpensive ones offered little in the way of upgrades over my soldering iron setup. I decided to take matter into my own hands. I designed a water-cooled grip to go on top of an inexpensive temperature controlled soldering iron.

The design was made specifically to be printed on my resin printer and screwed on to the plastic body of a standard soldering iron. It was fully removable so the iron could always be used to solder when I wasn’t burning wood with it. Since here was no direct contact with any hot metal elements, this design was easily able to withstand long burning sessions, and my fingers were actively cooled by the circulating water inside the jacket. I designed the jacket so it would circulate the water in a spiral, going the full length of the grip before flowing back into a holding reservoir. Water was circulated through 6mm plastic tubing with an inexpensive brushless 12v garden fountain pump.

Naturally, no soldering iron is complete without a holder, so I designed and printed one. I made it so it fit perfectly in the handholds of my Ikea desk drawers.

Armed with my new pyrography tool, I set a challenge that was supposed to take multiple, many-hour sessions. In the end, I completed it in two long sittings, mostly thanks to how comfortable the pyrography iron was.

The full design files are available on https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3545930 if you are interested in trying out the design. Just make sure it is printed in a heat-resistant plastic and the water is always circulating when the iron is on. I found resin printing to be much better for printing watertight vessels than FDM, so I would definitely recommend going that route as well.

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