Reviews

Why I Prefer the TruArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Over the Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool

The price is decent, but this machine is all about power, performance, and user comfort.
Mark Wolfe Avatar
TRUArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool Set with tips and letter stencils
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

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Getting started with pyrography—the art of decorating wood or other surfaces with heated tools or a fine flame—can be inexpensive, but buying equipment without any experience might be confusing. Prices range from under $15 for a single-temperature solid-point wood-burning tool to more than $200 for a professional wire-nib wood burner. For those who are not sure what kind of tool to buy, our team compiled a tested guide that will help sort it out. As a flexible mid-price kit, the TruArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool Set topped our list of best wood-burning tools.

Cheap single-temperature solid-point wood-burning tools may be fine for one project, but they cannot provide the versatility or level of detail that most hobbyists prefer. Professional wire-nib pyrography gear offers a high level of detail and versatility but is also bigger, bulkier, and often prohibitively expensive. But the TRUArt Stage 1 wood burner gave us the best of both worlds: power and adaptability for different kinds of artwork, a compact size that stows away neatly, and an affordable price point. In this hands-on review, I’ll share my experience and observations from testing the TRUArt Stage 1 pyrography tool set, including a side-by-side comparison with the popular Walnut Hollow Creative Wood-Burning Versa-Tool.

TruArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool Set: At a Glance

Person placing tip on TRUArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Rating: 8.8/10

PROS

  • High and low temperature settings and 21 assorted craft tips for a wide range of pyrography projects
  • Ergonomic cushioned grip provides superior comfort and control
  • Ships in a hard plastic carrying case to keep tool and accessories organized
  • Accommodates all hard- and softwood types as well as many other crafting materials

CONS

  • 2-position temperature control switch offers less versatility than a control dial
  • Short 4-foot power cord may be restrictive for some work settings

Get the TruArt Stage 1 pyrography pen wood-burning tool set at:

What is the Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool Set?

The TruArt Stage 1 wood-burning set features a 30-watt solid-tip wood-burning pen with an ergonomically shaped handle, a short shaft that places the user’s hand close to the work surface, and two heat sinks that keep the handle cool. A rubber overmold grip improves comfort and control. The three-way off/15-watt/30-watt adjustment switch is conveniently built into the upper handle as well. Use the 15-watt setting for softer materials like leather, while the 30-watt setting is best for traditional wood-burning applications. The 4-foot power cord plugs into any household electrical outlet.

This kit comes equipped for a wide variety of writing, shading, stenciling, stamping, and hot-knife cutting applications. In addition to the wood-burning tool, the kit includes a tool rest, a steel stencil for letters and numerals, 21 interchangeable twist-on tips (including calligraphy, groove, dot, hot-knife, and universal points), and a plastic carry case.

Is the TruArt pyrography pen easy to use?

The TruArt pyrography pen was a pleasure to use. I noted, however, that the 4-foot power cord was a bit shorter than I preferred for large workpieces. I plugged it into a power strip, instead of directly into the wall outlet, which increased the reach adequately.

The burning tip came up to working temperature within 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the style of point that was installed. The tool maintained its temperature with a high level of consistency, which allowed for steady burning, with few pauses. The variety of tips included with the kit offered plenty of versatility to create shading effects or write in different pyrography styles and fonts. Although the burning effects were not as articulate as a wire-nib wood burner, the Stage 1 pyrography pen was easy to use and offered as much flexibility and performance as I could have asked from a solid-tip type.

Person using TRUArt Stage 1 Wood-Burning Tool to draw tree on wood
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Is the TruArt wood-burning tool comfortable to use?

The TruArt wood-burning tool felt good in my hand for several reasons. First, the contoured shape and grippy rubber of the handle made it feel more responsive and allowed for better control than other wood-burning tools I have used. Also, the handle didn’t get uncomfortably hot, no matter how long I used it.

I also liked that the switch was built into the handle instead of wired midway along the length of the power cord, as in some other wood-burning tools I’ve used. When the switch is on the wire, it has an annoying tendency to drag across the surface while I’m working. With it built into the handle, everything moved together smoothly.

Is the TruArt wood-burning tool set good quality?

By all measures, the TruArt Stage wood-burning tool set reflects good quality for the money. To begin with, it has a sturdy and comfortable build. The power switch clicks positively into each position with no wiggle or play. The power cord is attached securely but flexes well to accommodate work movements. Also, the interchangeable brass points are well formed, without blemishes, and twist on and off the tool easily.

For about the same price as many single-temperature wood-burning kits, this tool offers two temperature settings. While high power is generally sought after for wood burning, the lower setting allows for different effects on wood and also works better for leatherwork. The TruArt Stage 1 pyrography pen set is a good-quality tool kit for wood-burning hobbyists at any level of the craft.

Is the TruArt pyrography pen worth the money? 

To understand the value of the TruArt pyrography pen, I compared it to another tool I tested, the Walnut Hollow Creative Wood-Burning Versa-Tool. Both of these adjustable solid-point wood-burning kits come from respected brands and include a variety of tips for different projects.

The Walnut Hollow tool is rated at 25 watts and includes a temperature-adjustment dial that smoothly increases or decreases the tip temperature. While I’ll reiterate my preference for the curved-handle design and in-handle control switch of the TRUArt Stage 1 over the straight handle and switch-on-the wire design of Walnut Hollow’s Versa-Tool, the Versa-Tool’s dial did offer greater temperature control during my tests.

The lower power rating of the Versa-Tool suggests a lower top temperature than that of the TruArt’s 30-watt tip, which appeared to be the case based on my side-by-side comparisons. The TruArt tool tip burned the work surface darker with a 1-second touch, and again after a 3-second pause, and caused smoke to rise 2 seconds faster than the Walnut Hollow wood-burning tool. I found the Stage 1 to be the best pick for faster, steadier work.

Finally, for the slightly higher price of the TruArt Stage 1 kit, more accessories are included. Where the Versa-Tool came with 11 points and a tool rest, the Stage 1 included 21 points, a tool rest, and a durable steel stencil. With the overall quality being comparable and the slight variance in makeup between these kits accounting for the price difference, the TruArt Stage 1 kit appears to be a fair value.

Close up of heat settings onTRUArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Is the TruArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool Set right for you?

If you need an inexpensive wood-burning tool for a single project and never intend to take up the craft again, then there are cheaper options that could work out just fine. Consider the Walnut Hollow Creative Value Tool, for instance. It comes with four tips, gets really hot, and preserves your budget for more important expenditures.

On the other hand, experienced pyrographers looking for more precision and control would be better off considering an upgrade to a pro-style wire-nib wood burner. The TruArt Stage 2 Professional Dual Pen might be just the thing. It reaches temperatures greater than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with two pens, an external temperature controller, and more than 40 wire nibs for an incredible level of detail.

The TruArt Stage 1 pyrography pen set takes the middle ground between those two options. It’s a quality tool at a fair price and comes ready to work with 21 tips for a wide range of projects. If you are starting a new hobby and intend to pursue it on a fairly consistent basis, this tool could provide a great way to get started, or a nice addition to your tool box.

Where to Buy the TruArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool Set 

Get the TruArt Stage 1 Pyrography Pen Wood-Burning Tool set at:

Meet the Tester

Mark Wolfe is a product tester and writer with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industries. He kept his tool box well stocked in order to build or repair fences, walls, irrigation systems, and equipment on any given day. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest hand tools, lawn-care products, outdoor power equipment, and other outdoor-living goods.

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Mark Wolfe

Staff Writer

Mark Wolfe is a second-career freelance writer based in Georgia and has an extensive background in the horticulture industry. Since 2020, he has contributed numerous gardening and home improvement articles to BobVila.com, along with a variety of consumer product reviews.

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