Building and Using a Lichtenberg Wood Burning Machine

My husband and I were bored the summer of 2020 and decided to build this fractal burning tool. Since I was already working with epoxy resin, I knew that filling the burn designs with colorful epoxy resin would look amazing.

Fractal burning occurs when a conductive solution is applied to the wood and then electricity is introduced via 2 electrodes wired from a transformer (microwave). As the current tries to connect, the high voltage burns river like patterns into the wood. The results are absolutely incredible! No burn design is ever the same!

DISCLAIMER: Use of a Lichtenberg Wood Burning Machine is very dangerous. One mistake can seriously injure or kill you. We are not recommending that you make or use one of these devices. We are only showing you how we made ours.

We chose to use a microwave transformer for our Lichtenberg wood burning machine because it creates deeper cuts and grooves in the wood for resin pouring. This is also the most dangerous type of transformer to use because it has one of the most amps. You can also use a neon sign transformer but your burn designs will look different.

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An Unusual Rustic Wood Sculpture

I was passing by a yard in Pennsylvania with a newly cut tree, and I told them what I did, and they were nice enough to let me have a few large chunks.

I had always fractal burned only flat pieces up to this point, but I figured why not burn 3 dimensional chunks of wood? My husband cut them into smaller chunks for me. The best part about these pieces were the saw marks and unevenness, which I didn’t attempt to “fix”.

Below are the results!

Card Catalog Coffee Table with a Barn Wood Top

[Buy this fabulous vintage coffee table – available now in my shop!]

These single row 5 drawer card catalog configurations make amazing coffee tables!

My very first card catalog coffee table

Often these card catalogs were part of a bigger system and therefore don’t have a top or a finished top. I recently found another (they are hard to find!) – this particular one also is a “newer” one with some lovely, groovy 70s yellow varnish, wooden drawer fronts, amazing hardware and plastic drawers.

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