How to Wood Burn Furniture: Shou-Sugi-Ban

Did you see my post yesterday about our new guest bedroom? If not be sure to check it out!! One of the main statement’s in the room was the gorgeous dresser, ehm well not the one below but the one on the way!! I scored this dresser on the side of the road a few years back and have been meaning to give it some zest love. The time has come! Chanda and I are both addicted to this new japanese wood burning technique called Shou Sugi Ban. Not only is the outcome a lush dark chocolate wood, but let’s face it we get our inner pyro out with this technique.


First I sanded all the cream paint off the drawers to find some gorgeous raw wood hiding underneath.


Next I grabbed my torch (you can get one at Miner’s) and begin to run the flame up and down the wood. You won’t want to stay in one area too long, just long enough for the wood to turn a toasty brown and then move on. Be sure to step back every few strokes and make sure you are burning evenly.

Yep, inhale that burnt wood smell. MMmmmMMM


Loving the outcome and all the texture!!


I decided to have some contrast with the cream knobs and siding and only did the drawers and top. Before assembling I sprayed a clear coat on the wood to ensure protection. Be sure to get CLEAR otherwise you will yellow all your gorgeous hard work.


I am in LOVE.




Happy Burning!!



Photos Credit to: Jessica Helton

Comments 19

  1. Looks great. I have an ex-brother-in-law, that made a great bookcase for us way back in 1984, where he did the same thing. It isn’t as dark as this, but it is still pretty.

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      hello!! love to hear that you are experimenting- so fun!! i have never done with color, basically the closer or farther you hold the flame to the wood effects the intensity of the burn. Hope that helps!! xo sam

  2. I did this years ago to a picture frame and the burned smell annoyed me so much that I got rid of it. Maybe if the surface was sealed with something it wouldn’t be so bad.

  3. I like it. Even “patchy”, lol. Reminds me of tortoise shell. And yeah, leaving the rest cream color was right on. If you do it all over, it can be too much of a good thing. The contrast works.
    Plus, you don’t want it to look like you found the dresser in a burnt out abandoned house!

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  4. Ideally you need a bigger flame/torch to get a more even burn on the surface. Using a small torch makes it patchy, as you see here. There are examples on YouTube, one that springs to mind is the Samurai Carpenter. He does it on a bigger scale (barn siding planks) but it gives you an idea of how it should look.

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      Totally!! Ya it was one of those make do with what you have projects but I have seen where they just light the planks on fire in a large meadow- legit!! xo

  5. i did this several years ago when my girls were first born. had no idea it was a japanese design—-just thought it was mine. love it, but why did you leave the sides painted—-doesn’t seem to match design.

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      Ya the piece is all wood but I like the dramatic contrast of light and dark next to each other so I left the sides light- plus when you see the entire room it really ties into the rest of the design 🙂

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  6. I saw this on Tiny House not sure I like that burn look and they said it helped for bugs etc bug in doors don’t think would be nessisary sp. why did you leave the side painted was it for it not real wood on the side and can’t be burned! Just not for me!

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      Hi Kathryn, Ya it’s great to prevent bugs for outside and for me I LOVE the look- the piece is all wood but I like the dramatic contrast of light and dark next to each other so I left the sides light. Just another technique to darken wood rather than the obvious stain or paint 🙂 xo

  7. the dresser looks so cool. I like how you left the sides painted. This reminds me of that show Trading Spaces–I remember one of the designers doing this technique!

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