Shou Sugi Ban: Japanese Wood Burning Technique

Shou Sugi Ban is a simple, beautiful wood burning technique designed to naturally preserved wood and historically used in Japan for wood siding. 

Wood begins raw, as with the in-progress rings below:


Then you apply flame with a torch, clean and sand the wood as desired, and treat it with linseed oil. I like to use lacquer, sometimes, too, to seal the ring and reduce the lovely but agressive burnt-wood smell. 

Here's a before-and-after:


And the final product:


I like using Shou Sugi Ban because it's a natural finish, and one that mimics the self-preservation of a tree in a forest fire: it's the last line of defense, and the particular way the wood burns creates a barrier between the flames and green, live wood. 

It's this kind of natural strength I like to honor in my work, through my materials and processing, whenever I can. 

This particular ring is part of the AD IDEM series. 

Want to translate this technique into a home project? Check out this Apartment Therapy tutorial!


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