Burnt wood is a Japanese technique which consists of burning the surface of a wood to obtain a superficial carbon layer. The wood then takes on a black tint and a scaly appearance also known as "tortoise shell" or "crocodile skin". This Japanese method is gradually being exported. In this article, we detail the main creations in burnt wood that you can make while explaining the specificities of the shou sugi ban technique.
In the traditional technique of shou sugi ban from Japan, it is the Japanese Cedar (or Sugi) that is burnt. If you wish to make DIY burnt wood, you should know that all types of wood can be used to make burnt wood. Some woods are better able to withstand the burning process than others. Species such as Douglas, larch, pine or oak are very suitable for trying out the burnt wood technique. You can also recycle wooden pallets and make shou sugi ban with pallets.
There are two ways of making Japanese burnt wood :
Raw burnt wood: whatever the type of wood chosen, you burn the wood more or less depending on the black finish you wish to obtain. Generally speaking, the more pronounced the grain of the wood, the more interesting the burnt wood effect obtained will be. The layer of carbon in its raw state is very fragile (crumbling, abrasion), so it is advisable to protect your burnt wood creations.
Brushed burnt wood. Brushing the burnt wood consists of removing a small part of the black carbon layer in order to reappear the veining of the wood. By brushing the wood, you remove the "tortoiseshell" effect of the burnt wood to obtain a more linear appearance. It all depends on the effect you are looking for. Brushing can slightly reduce the resistance of the burnt wood, which is why it is strongly recommended to apply a treatment to your brushed burnt wood creations.
The shades obtained through the burnt wood technique are infinite. They depend on the species chosen but also on the burning process (burning time, brushing or not). It is up to you to make several tests to achieve the burnt wood projects you want.
More and more accessible to private individuals (all types of wood can be burnt and there are many video tutorials explaining how to burn and/or brush wood), burnt wood is gradually becoming a part of interior design for DIY enthusiasts. As driftwood is recycled for interior decoration, the idea here is to recover damaged wood and burn it for interior decoration. Burning the wood thus gives new life to old, damaged wood that you might have thrown away.
Indoors, you can make different creations in burnt wood such as decorative objects (lamps, tables, headboards), burnt wood panelling panels to create a contrast with another wall left natural. As previously mentioned, if you wish to create a "tortoiseshell" effect, you will have to burn the wood and leave it raw. However, if you want a smoother effect, you will need to brush it.
Burnt wood can therefore be used on almost any surface. However, we would like to point out that burnt wood is still rarely used for parquet flooring today. Its resistance to intensive use in parquet floors (repeated rubbing) still needs to be studied.
Outdoors, burnt wood is often used for construction purposes, particularly for creating burnt wood cladding. This technique is very popular with architects looking for ever more original proposals. It can also be used in palisades or as a screen to separate two outdoor spaces. You can recover old wood to transform it into burnt wood palisades.
Beyond its black and original aesthetic appearance, burnt wood is an advantageous technique for outdoor use. It allows the wood to be naturally protected against xylophagous insect attacks and mainly against fire.
Under the effect of external aggressions (UV, bad weather), wood burnt outdoors is constantly subjected to aggression, the black carbon layer can then crumble. To preserve outdoor creations made of burnt wood, we have created the Burnt Wood Protector PB600, a treatment for burnt wood, available in a colourless or black version.