Wood Burning, the Art of Shou Sugi Ban

2 Materials
1 Hour

My husband attempted Shou Sugi Ban for our front patio light posts (before we even knew what the technique was called) and oh my, isn’t it stunning?

Shou Sugi Ban on the left, untreated post on the right. (Obviously) 😉

The pattern of the wood grain shows through so beautifully. 

Why did we even attempt wood burning the posts? 

Honestly it wasn’t on my radar at all. Travis and I were headed to the treated wood area of our local Home Depot when Travis got the idea.

He asked, “Why don’t we get untreated wood and try to burn it?” 

Thinking his idea sounded like an excuse to play with fire I rolled my eyes and said “Really? You want to burn the wood?”

“Yes, I think it could turn out cool.” 

Then I remembered back to visiting my cousin’s house and seeing her little girls bunk bed, that her husband had made absolutely stunning by burning and distressing the wood.

“Okay,” I said, what’s the harm. We’re all about DIY, so let Travis take on this project!


Honestly the whole process was extremely easy! You’re literally working with fire though, so take caution and understand there is risk involved. (aka: if you burn yourself it’s your own fault.)

You’ll need:


Shou Sugi Ban is a century old Japanese technique to seal wood while also giving it a beautiful, unique look. It’s said that burning the wood can preserve it for 80 – 100 years. While I can’t personally attest to that, it did make me excited to see how well it will hold up over time compared to the treated boards we’ve been purchasing for years. It is recommended to oil the wood once yearly.

We went ahead and stained it before burning, which looking back on Travis said he wished we hadn’t. He said it seemed like it was harder to burn because it had to work through the stain first.

This was such an inexpensive, easy project for how amazing it turned out.


He went ahead and lit the propane torch using the striker, and holding the torch away from his body and a few feet away from the wood, worked his way closer until the wood began burning.

This is going to be personal preference. Some people love a more black, charred look, versus we really wanted to just accentuate the wood grain. This is another reason I’d recommend oiling the wood once yearly. If you don’t do a heavy burn, it’s not going to be sealed as well as if you use a heavy burn.

It was very soothing to watch and Travis said he enjoyed doing it.


If you burn to heavy you can always sand the area. 

Keep a hose or water near by. Just in case!

Find wood that has a nice, pretty pattern to it. One of the posts we purchased didn’t have much grain showing and didn’t turn out as nice as the first piece we did. Lots of wood grain and knots make it look amazing and really add dimension. 

Once Travis burned both posts we cemented them into our front flower bed we are turning into a patio!

What started out like this:

Turned into this:

And the burned posts were the cherry on the top of this project!

Evenings spent out here have been my new favorite!

Have you attempted Shou Sugi Ban or even heard of it before? We can’t wait to try it out on more projects in the future! 

Make sure you’re  following along on Instagram as I share all our current DIY projects and yummy recipes Monday – Friday!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Chardoy
    on Jun 14, 2020

    What species wood did you use? What kind of oil treatment do you use?

  • Peggy
    on Jun 20, 2020

    When this type wood burning come out? In the early 1970 my brother made furniture in the early 1970 made our parents furniture like this. I loved it.

    • Gretchen Krutz
      on Jun 28, 2020

      It was developed at least before the 1700's in Japan. Mostly what I have seen has been charred deeply, which gives the wood planks a completely black finish that is immune to rotting and fire. In the USA around 1970 there was a popularity of decorative wood burning, and also making images on wood with a soldering iron type tool. Cool!

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