This is basically a review of my new Colwood Cub woodburner, and an encouragement for you to give it a good look as you make your own decision about what to buy.
As stated in a previous post, I’m new to woodburning. I have years of experience as an artist, but I hadn’t tried woodburning until very recently. On the other hand, my sister is not new to woodburning. She’s been at it for several years and does a great job selling her work on Etsy. Seeing her work inspired me to finally try it, so I asked her to give me demo of her tools.
She did her first projects with a burner that is styled after a soldering iron. She still has it, and she still finds it useful, but most of her work is now done with a Colwood Cub. She loves it.
I was immediately impressed with how well it worked. The pen had interchangeable tips and the temperature was easily controlled with a single knob.
She gave me a scrap piece of wood and let me experiment to see how each tip performed. It was fun! When I got home I did more research and reading on the subject. I’m surprised at how many options there are. So many different companies, and so many models. In the end I opted for the Colwood Cub because I was familiar with it. For the price it’s really hard to beat. The unit itself, with a pen and 5 tips was less than $120, including shipping. Though it has an entry level price, it performs very well.
The shipping box was well packed and padded, but must have had some very rough handling in transit. When I opened the package I found that the plastic temperature control knob had been shattered. In spite of this, the unit was fully functional. It is extremely well built. The metal post that holds the knob was still in good shape, and the temperature could easily be controlled without the plastic knob. In most circumstances I would have contacted customer service, but I was too interested in burning wood! I should be clear that the problem was caused by the postal service, not the company that sold me the Cub. Anyway, Radio Shack sells replacement knobs, so I wasn’t long without one. While they do sell the exact knob that comes with the burner, I saw a smaller knob that I liked better. For that reason my Cub looks a little different than others you might see.
I ordered my tools from qualitycarvingsupplies.com because their pricing was good and I liked how organized their site was. [Update: Unfortunately the site shows just a phone number now.]
Once I had the burner, I needed something to burn. Michael’s has lots of inexpensive wood items with great surfaces to start on.
I have now logged probably 30 total hours of burning with this Colwood Cub and I’m a big fan. It’s small so it’s easy to store, but it does everything I have needed it to do. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone else.
The only negative to burning so far has been an occasional uncomfortable heat on the tips of my fingers. The pens are generally comfortable to hold, but every once in a while it seems that more heat comes off the front of the pen and I find myself adjusting my grip to avoid the heat. I think the hot vapors coming off the pen tip are drifting past my fingers and causing the pain. To test this theory I put a 20-inch box fan on the table to pull smoke and vapors away from my workspace, and my hand. Since doing that I haven’t felt any uncomfortable heat in over 4 hours of woodburning.