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Lichtenberg Wood Burner (Read 1,653 times)
 
Steve Doerr
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Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Nov 10th, 2016 at 1:22pm
 
After reading all of the pros and cons of building my own Lichenberg machine, I decided I did not want to take a chance on getting the wrong neon transformer and possibly connecting the wires incorrectly.  Plus, based on everyone’s warning about electrocution etc. I was very reluctant to take a chance on a self-built machine.  (I didn’t want my wife to inherit all of my tools just yet Grin) Thus, I bit the bullet and purchased the Conestoga Lichtenberg Wood Burner.  I have practiced on some scrap wood and also used it on a junk bowl and HF.  From these experiences, there are a few observations that I made that might be of interest or help to those looking at doing Lichtenberg wood burning.

1.      The Conestoga machine is well built and easy to use.  It also was designed with safety as one of it major priorities.
2.      I have an old 2x4 and plywood platform with a rubber mat that I stand on when I’m using it.
3.      The foot pedal is a very effective and useful on/off switch when using the burner.
4.      Like any piece of equipment or machine that is dangerous to operate, be sure and follow all of the safety rules. (Think about when you first learned how to drive, use a table saw, bandsaw or lathe.  You were scared to death that you might get hurt or even hurt or kill someone else.  But now you are more comfortable using those items but still have the necessary respect for the piece of equipment to insure the safety of yourself and others.)
5.      The electricity can arc between the two probes while on the wood.  The current will jump above the wood and create a singed area below the arced area.
6.      You can also get some singed markings around the finer detailed burning because of some arcing as well.
7.      After burning your desired pattern, be sure and wash off the burning with a stiff nylon brush and soap and water.  This helps get ride of some of the burnt ash and will keep any fine black powder from getting in the un-burnt wood grain.
8.      I’m still working on learning how much of the baking soda solution to put on and how wet/dry the wood should be before putting the probes on the wood and turning on the burner.

I have attached some pictures of a HF I burned.  The wood is spalted sycamore and I used some Inlace turquoise to fill some bug holes.  It is 4 ¼”W x 6 5/8”H.   In addition to some profiles of the HF I have included some close ups of the burnings.

I took the HF to Kiwanis the other day to show one of my woodworking friends and one of the other members that had commissioned me to do a turning for her fell in love with it and said, she wanted to commission me to do a larger one for her Thumbs Up.

C&C welcomed.
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Rob Grindler
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #1 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 1:32pm
 
Thats exciting Steve.It's fun watching the burn ,I can play for hours with it.
I am interested to see what you have for connecting to the wood ( probes,clips?) could you post some pics of the unit and it's set up for use.
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Ralph Fahringer
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #2 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 2:06pm
 
Is the foot pedal on/off switch a dead man's switch??
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Steve Doerr
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #3 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 2:23pm
 
Rob, I'll try to get some pictures posted soon or you can check out their website   Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register.

Ralph, yes it is a dead man's switch.  You must hold the pedal down for it to be on.  Once you remove your foot, it turns it off.
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Tom Coghill
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #4 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 4:20pm
 
Very nice Steve.  Thanks for taking the time to post your experiences and the photos of your results!
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Len Layman
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #5 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 4:22pm
 
Steve,  That is really cool.  The spalting rally compliments the burning (or is it the other way around)!
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Len

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Tom Brouillette
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #6 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 4:28pm
 
Sweet!  How fine do you sand it prior to burning?
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Steve Doerr
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #7 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 4:35pm
 
Tom, I sanded to 400 just like normal, but will be experimenting with that.  The current wants to follow the grain, so if you want the burnings to connect, ie long lines, then you put the probes opposite one another with the grain.  When I put the probes cross grain they did burn neat patterns but did not connect.
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Buck Nemitt
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #8 - Nov 10th, 2016 at 6:23pm
 
Nicely done, a very stunning accomplishment--
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What the heck,Give it a try---
 
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Rob Grindler
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #9 - Nov 11th, 2016 at 1:04pm
 
Steve Doerr wrote on Nov 10th, 2016 at 2:23pm:
Rob, I'll try to get some pictures posted soon or you can check out their website   Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register.

Ralph, yes it is a dead man's switch.  You must hold the pedal down for it to be on.  Once you remove your foot, it turns it off.


Thanks Steve ,no need for more pics,as I checked out the web sight  Thumbs Up
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Dick Bernard
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #10 - Nov 11th, 2016 at 8:58pm
 
Steve, the designs created by tour wood burner are beautiful.  To place them on "your" work seems to go hand and hand.

Could you tell me where you purchased your Lichtenburg wood burner.
I can't find them for sale anywhere on the internet.
I would like to shop it out to find the best price, but like I said, I can't find them for sale anyplace.

Thank you
Dick
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Steve Doerr
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #11 - Nov 11th, 2016 at 10:51pm
 
Dick,
Conestoga Woodworks is the only place that I know that has a Lichtenberg Wood Burning machine.  You can find them at Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register.  There is a lot of information out there about building one yourself with either a neon sign transformer or a microwave transformer.  There is a good discussion on the Lichtenberg Electric Etching thread that is in the section here on WR.

Good luck and let me know if you have other questions.
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Dick Bernard
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #12 - Nov 12th, 2016 at 7:01am
 

Thank you for the information Steve.

Dick
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Arlin Eastman
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #13 - Nov 13th, 2016 at 6:18pm
 
Well I am finally back after a few weeks of illness.

Steve

You did a wonderful job on the HF and I love the burning!!!

To get the small burnings you did, did you just place the probes closer together?  Also thank you for the link on who sells them
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Mike Peace
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #14 - Nov 24th, 2016 at 10:16pm
 
If you are interested in making a unit, you might check out my Youtube video. I put a great emphasis on safety.
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william trench
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #15 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 7:45am
 
My son just sent this to me yesterday:
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wood turned good
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Tom Brouillette
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #16 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 11:57am
 
That's a little scary having two transformers in parallel.
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Steve Doerr
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #17 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 11:59am
 
My thoughts as well.
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Bert Delisle
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #18 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 10:41pm
 
I have made my burner system with 9kv 30mA neon Transformer. I was concerned with the possibility of someone not understanding what the box is and with a standard plug it could be energized, Potentially Very Dangerous.

I have hard wired my two hand switches in line between the 120 volt plug and the transformer. This means that even if someone plugs in the cord no power will go to the transformer unless both hand switches are pressed. This also means I can't use a hand probe because if I release one switch power gets shut off.
My probe holders are similar to Mike Peace's third hand in his video but I use mine as the contact probe holders for both High Tension Leads, leads attach to my #10 awg probes (hardened by twisting) with alligator clips. I set up the wood and probes and then stand back with my two hand switch board to watch the fun.
Having an electrical background I also added a power monitor meter and a Variac in the upstream supply. I now know how much primary current flows for different woods and different solution concentrations.
I did some hollow ball Ornaments but found that I should have done the fractal process BEFORE I hollowed the ball, LOL.
Great learning curve and some very unique artistic embellishment opportunity.
Safety First.
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« Last Edit: Dec 9th, 2016 at 10:45pm by Bert Delisle »  
 
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Grant Wilkinson
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #19 - Dec 11th, 2016 at 1:16pm
 
Bert: Would you mind posting where you got your transformer and its model information. I've tried several different ones now - wasting money - only to find that they all had ground fault protection and as a result, they shut down immediately when the probes are touched to the wood. I've spoken to two manufacturers and they have confirmed that transformers with ground fault protection will not work for our purposes.

There was another thread in this forum in which we discussed this question at length and a couple of us asked if those who were successful in finding a transformer that worked would post model information, but no one has done that.

Thank you.
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Grant Wilkinson
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Glenn Roberts
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #20 - Dec 11th, 2016 at 8:09pm
 
Grant, is the gfi circuit external to the transformer? If so, bypass may be possible. One method is here:

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Grant Wilkinson
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #21 - Dec 11th, 2016 at 10:42pm
 
Glenn: On all the units that I tried, the GFI circuit is internal. And, when I opened one of the metals cases to see if I could bypass it, the entire transformer and circuity was encased in a solid tar like substance.
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Grant Wilkinson
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Bert Delisle
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #22 - Dec 13th, 2016 at 12:21am
 
Grant Wilkinson wrote on Dec 11th, 2016 at 1:16pm:
Bert: Would you mind posting where you got your transformer and its model information. I've tried several different ones now - wasting money - only to find that they all had ground fault protection and as a result, they shut down immediately when the probes are touched to the wood. I've spoken to two manufacturers and they have confirmed that transformers with ground fault protection will not work for our purposes.

There was another thread in this forum in which we discussed this question at length and a couple of us asked if those who were successful in finding a transformer that worked would post model information, but no one has done that.

Thank you.


The unit used was a GF compliant unit xl1035 made by Array. Not sure where it came from as it was acquired by a fellow woodturner on line. Be very careful with any electrical equipment especially the high tension secondary wiring. Not sure why yours failed but if the ground fault protection triggered then likely your setup may actually have had a ground fault path, the device protection safety  apparently worked.  I doubt you will find much industry technical support for this re-application of the electrical devices.
Safety is paramount in the Woodturning environment and more so with electrical.
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Ed Weber
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #23 - Dec 13th, 2016 at 10:26am
 
Bert Delisle wrote on Dec 13th, 2016 at 12:21am:
I doubt you will find much industry technical support for this re-application of the electrical devices.


You don't/won't find too many people willing to tell you how to disable the safety devices on their products. While a product that was designed for a certain application may work in another, it's not supposed to and usually not tested to do so. Products are tested for proper operation in the normal operating conditions that they are likely to experience and then pushed to failure.
If you use a product in a way in which it wasn't designed, then there is really no way you can predict how or when it may fail.
It may also be illegal to provide this type of information to consumers in some circumstances.
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Bert Delisle
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #24 - Feb 15th, 2017 at 10:26pm
 
I am amazed at how many folks take huge risks with HIgh Voltage electricity, like hand holding probes. Hence the "dead man switch" as its name implies when your dead it shuts off.
My home made system (neon tx) has safety and controls that address respect for High voltage. Probes are in holders that are placed on the work piece and two hand switches are hard wired wired in series with the transformer so that both hands are nowhere near any current carrying High Voltage wires when power is applied. No need for a "Dead man" switch because as soon as one hand is moved to adjust a probe the hand switch opens and cuts power off.  In my opinion much safer to avoid any and all body contact with energized high voltage.
JMNSHO

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« Last Edit: Feb 15th, 2017 at 10:28pm by Bert Delisle »  
 
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Rob Grindler
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #25 - Feb 16th, 2017 at 12:49pm
 
Bert Delisle wrote on Feb 15th, 2017 at 10:26pm:
I am amazed at how many folks take huge risks with HIgh Voltage electricity, like hand holding probes. Hence the "dead man switch" as its name implies when your dead it shuts off.
My home made system (neon tx) has safety and controls that address respect for High voltage. Probes are in holders that are placed on the work piece and two hand switches are hard wired wired in series with the transformer so that both hands are nowhere near any current carrying High Voltage wires when power is applied. No need for a "Dead man" switch because as soon as one hand is moved to adjust a probe the hand switch opens and cuts power off.  In my opinion much safer to avoid any and all body contact with energized high voltage.
JMNSHO



Sorry, I'm not understanding your explanation of how your system works.It sounds great ,but could you explain further how it disconnects when you move your hand,Maybe a picture or two if you can.
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Rob Grindler
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #26 - Feb 17th, 2017 at 1:10pm
 
Rob Grindler wrote on Feb 16th, 2017 at 12:49pm:
Bert Delisle wrote on Feb 15th, 2017 at 10:26pm:
I am amazed at how many folks take huge risks with HIgh Voltage electricity, like hand holding probes. Hence the "dead man switch" as its name implies when your dead it shuts off.
My home made system (neon tx) has safety and controls that address respect for High voltage. Probes are in holders that are placed on the work piece and two hand switches are hard wired wired in series with the transformer so that both hands are nowhere near any current carrying High Voltage wires when power is applied. No need for a "Dead man" switch because as soon as one hand is moved to adjust a probe the hand switch opens and cuts power off.  In my opinion much safer to avoid any and all body contact with energized high voltage.
JMNSHO



Sorry, I'm not understanding your explanation of how your system works.It sounds great ,but could you explain further how it disconnects when you move your hand,Maybe a picture or two if you can.

Thanks for your PM. Thumbs Up
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Bert Delisle
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Re: Lichtenberg Wood Burner
Reply #27 - Feb 18th, 2017 at 5:42pm
 
Rob Grindker wrote;
Sorry, I'm not understanding your explanation of how your system works.It sounds great ,but could you explain further how it disconnects when you move your hand,Maybe a picture or two if you can.

Rob I managed to remember to snap a picture of my system when I set up to burn a project.  And was able reduce the size to a forum eleigible size. You can see my switch board on the left. Probe holders are adjustable up, down and probes can rotate sideways to meet any expected project shape or size.
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« Last Edit: Feb 18th, 2017 at 5:50pm by Bert Delisle »  
 
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