Conestoga Works

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner
  • Vacuum systems
  • Ornamental tools

The Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner is available in two voltage configurations. The North American (United States, Canada and Mexico) model operates on 110 volts, 60 Hertz, and 230 watts. It has a standard three prong plug that will fit any modern household receptacle. The overseas model operates on 220 volts, 50 Hertz, and 115 watts. The overseas model has a plug configured for the local country’s normal household electrical receptacle. A stepdown transformer is not required to operate the burner. The burner’s input voltage cannot be switched between 110 volts and 220 volts.

Most likely the wood is too wet or not wet enough. When the wood is too wet, the wood will not burn because the path between the probes is effectively shorted out. To find out if that’s the problem, place the probes on the wood and while activating the foot switch, lift one probe from the surface of the wood. If there is an arc between the probe tip and the wood, the wood is too wet.


If the wood is too dry, the burn path will not start. Wood is a fairly good insulator; thus, it must be moistened with the electrolyte solution to create a path for the electricity to flow between the probes.

The Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner was not designed to do the deep, out of control type burns that you see on YouTube where people are using used microwave transformers that are producing several hundred milliamps. Unfortunately, that’s the level of current that has caused several deaths. Safety of the user was a paramount design factor with the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner. It has a current output that is controlled to less than 30 milliamps and is designed to burn fern-like fractal type patterns and not the uncontrollable channels associated with the high amperage devices. You can increase the depth of the burn by continuing to burn for a short period of time once the arc paths connect; however, the paths will not be extremely deep or wide. Many of my customers have burned deep channels where resin has been inserted by using a carving tool or a Dremel tool with a rotary burr to cut a channel where they want the burn to follow. Once a channel is cut, moisten it with the electrolyte solution and burn again. The channel does not have to be very deep for the resin fill. There are a couple of advantages with this technique. First, you control the width and depth of the channel and secondly, you create the pattern you desire. Controlling the pattern painted with the electrolyte also helps in creating the desired burn pattern.

The best way to moisten the wood is to use a foam brush and paint the solution on the surface of the wood. Do not leave any standing solution on the wood. Use a paper towel to tamp up any excess solution. Let the solution soak into the wood for a few minutes until the surface appears to be dry, then apply a light coat of solution again and start the burning.

The best wood to embellish is a tight grained, light colored wood such as Maple, Cherry, Pine, Birch, or Poplar. Open grained woods such as Ash and Oak will also burn quite nicely; however, the burn pattern will tend to follow the grain because of the way it soaks up the solution. Very dense exotic woods such as Ebony tend to not burn well because they will not absorb the solution. Plywood and high-density particle board tend to embellish quite well.

I recommend placing the item to be embellished on an insulating pad on a wooden bench. The insulated pad may be a rubber mat or other insulating material such as carpet padding or nylon carpet. It is not necessary to insulate the bench from the floor nor stand on an insulated pad. The maximum current flow is between the two probe tips and the most important point is to ensure they are only touching the surface to be embellished when the footswitch is activated. Do not allow anyone to touch the item being embellished while actively burning it. Do not burn an object that is mounted on a lathe or on other metal surfaces. Screws or bolts in a bench top nor metal bench legs will not create a problem as long as the object being embellished is on an insulated pad.

Yes, the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner will not product a flame while burning wood, but it will create smoke. Use in a well-ventilated area to avoid setting off the smoke detectors.

The unit is designed to have the probes handheld in contact with the wood when the footswitch is activated. It is the burner’s only on/off switch. Idle hands get one in trouble. The concept is that if both hands are properly holding the probes and following the instructions, there is NO way the user can come in contact with the high voltage. What I mean by idle hands is where one is using alligator clips or some other device and their hands are free, they have a tendency to touch something that moves. Please note, the insulational value of the probes is over 50,000 volts and the insulated hilts keep the hands well away from the tips.

Safety is the primary consideration in the construction of the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner. The momentary foot switch is hardwired into the power supply which is housed in an ABS plastic box that has an extremely high insulation factor. The output leads are GTO 15 cable manufactured specifically for high voltage. The probes are designed with an extremely high safety factor built into them so they can safely be held while using the burner. The probes are constructed from class 2 phenolic material that has a very high dielectric insulational factor. The tips are 3/16" brass machined to allow the leads to be securely attached. The hilts are laser cut to fit the phenolic very tightly and have a very high dialectic insulation rating. The hilts ensure the user cannot accidentally slip down the probe and get close to the tip. The Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner limits the output current to less than 30 milliamps and produces a very controlled burn pattern without flames. There are several factors associated with the dangers of homemade burners. The most significant being the extremely high current from used microwave transformers and inadequately designed systems using materials not designed for the extreme voltage and current. Every accident and death involved devices made with used transformers never designed for this application, inadequately insulated wiring, and open wire connections.

No, any organic material that will absorb the electrolyte solution can be embellished with the burner. Guords, antlers, bones and leather can be embellished. Each of these materials may require the use of different techniques than wood but can be very successfully burned.

Yes; however, there are caveats associated with the answer. You can “paint a specific pattern” on the wood with the electrolyte solution and then burn the image by placing the probes strategically along the pattern. Sometimes this works great, and other times Mother Nature has a different idea and does her own thing. That’s the uniqueness of the Lichtenberg fractal pattern technique.

Yes, the probes are typically placed five to six inches apart. Once the arc paths from each probe connect, you leave one probe at the end of the burn channel and place the other further along the desired pattern. You will want to paint the desired path with the electrolyte solution so the arc will follow it and not venture off course.

Yes, there is a one-year warranty on the burner. Please see the warranty at the end of the instructions.

No, the tips will not wear out nor burn. They will get dirty from the sap in the wood which has no impact on their burning ability. They may be cleaned with a mild abrasive cleaner such as Comet and a Scotchbright pad; however, there really isn’t a need to do so. Do NOT use solvents to clean the tips. Avoid cleaning the acrylic hilt as it’s easily scratched.

Yes, the thickness of the wood is not a factor in the burning process as the burn pattern is relatively shallow; especially, the fern like patterns at the end of the burns. I recommend the wood be sanded to the point where the finish would normally be applied prior to the burning and minor touch-up sanding is only required once the burn pattern is cleaned up. Hard sanding will remove the delicate burn detail very quickly.

No, welding gloves are designed to protect the user from the heat associated with the welding process, not voltage. They will probably help but that is not their primary purpose. I’m currently supplying high voltage gloves approved for 12,000 volts with my burners as an additional safety step in holding the probes. Most of my customers feel very confident with using the burner without the gloves; but they are provided in the event you want that extra degree of safety.

NO, there are no consumer replaceable parts on the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner. Opening, tampering, or modifying the case or probes (including using clamping devices) will violate the instructions, void the warranty and potentially create a safety hazard. In the event of a problem with the burner, please call the number found on the case for guidance and a resolution to the problem.

Vacuum systems FAQ's
Ornamental tools FAQ's

The Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner is available in two voltage configurations. The North American (United States, Canada and Mexico) model operates on 110 volts, 60 Hertz, and 230 watts. It has a standard three prong plug that will fit any modern household receptacle. The overseas model operates on 220 volts, 50 Hertz, and 115 watts. The overseas model has a plug configured for the local country’s normal household electrical receptacle. A stepdown transformer is not required to operate the burner. The burner’s input voltage cannot be switched between 110 volts and 220 volts.

Most likely the wood is too wet or not wet enough. When the wood is too wet, the wood will not burn because the path between the probes is effectively shorted out. To find out if that’s the problem, place the probes on the wood and while activating the foot switch, lift one probe from the surface of the wood. If there is an arc between the probe tip and the wood, the wood is too wet.


If the wood is too dry, the burn path will not start. Wood is a fairly good insulator; thus, it must be moistened with the electrolyte solution to create a path for the electricity to flow between the probes.

The Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner was not designed to do the deep, out of control type burns that you see on YouTube where people are using used microwave transformers that are producing several hundred milliamps. Unfortunately, that’s the level of current that has caused several deaths. Safety of the user was a paramount design factor with the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner. It has a current output that is controlled to less than 30 milliamps and is designed to burn fern-like fractal type patterns and not the uncontrollable channels associated with the high amperage devices. You can increase the depth of the burn by continuing to burn for a short period of time once the arc paths connect; however, the paths will not be extremely deep or wide. Many of my customers have burned deep channels where resin has been inserted by using a carving tool or a Dremel tool with a rotary burr to cut a channel where they want the burn to follow. Once a channel is cut, moisten it with the electrolyte solution and burn again. The channel does not have to be very deep for the resin fill. There are a couple of advantages with this technique. First, you control the width and depth of the channel and secondly, you create the pattern you desire. Controlling the pattern painted with the electrolyte also helps in creating the desired burn pattern.

The best way to moisten the wood is to use a foam brush and paint the solution on the surface of the wood. Do not leave any standing solution on the wood. Use a paper towel to tamp up any excess solution. Let the solution soak into the wood for a few minutes until the surface appears to be dry, then apply a light coat of solution again and start the burning.

The best wood to embellish is a tight grained, light colored wood such as Maple, Cherry, Pine, Birch, or Poplar. Open grained woods such as Ash and Oak will also burn quite nicely; however, the burn pattern will tend to follow the grain because of the way it soaks up the solution. Very dense exotic woods such as Ebony tend to not burn well because they will not absorb the solution. Plywood and high-density particle board tend to embellish quite well.

I recommend placing the item to be embellished on an insulating pad on a wooden bench. The insulated pad may be a rubber mat or other insulating material such as carpet padding or nylon carpet. It is not necessary to insulate the bench from the floor nor stand on an insulated pad. The maximum current flow is between the two probe tips and the most important point is to ensure they are only touching the surface to be embellished when the footswitch is activated. Do not allow anyone to touch the item being embellished while actively burning it. Do not burn an object that is mounted on a lathe or on other metal surfaces. Screws or bolts in a bench top nor metal bench legs will not create a problem as long as the object being embellished is on an insulated pad.

Yes, the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner will not product a flame while burning wood, but it will create smoke. Use in a well-ventilated area to avoid setting off the smoke detectors.

The unit is designed to have the probes handheld in contact with the wood when the footswitch is activated. It is the burner’s only on/off switch. Idle hands get one in trouble. The concept is that if both hands are properly holding the probes and following the instructions, there is NO way the user can come in contact with the high voltage. What I mean by idle hands is where one is using alligator clips or some other device and their hands are free, they have a tendency to touch something that moves. Please note, the insulational value of the probes is over 50,000 volts and the insulated hilts keep the hands well away from the tips.

Safety is the primary consideration in the construction of the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner. The momentary foot switch is hardwired into the power supply which is housed in an ABS plastic box that has an extremely high insulation factor. The output leads are GTO 15 cable manufactured specifically for high voltage. The probes are designed with an extremely high safety factor built into them so they can safely be held while using the burner. The probes are constructed from class 2 phenolic material that has a very high dielectric insulational factor. The tips are 3/16" brass machined to allow the leads to be securely attached. The hilts are laser cut to fit the phenolic very tightly and have a very high dialectic insulation rating. The hilts ensure the user cannot accidentally slip down the probe and get close to the tip. The Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner limits the output current to less than 30 milliamps and produces a very controlled burn pattern without flames. There are several factors associated with the dangers of homemade burners. The most significant being the extremely high current from used microwave transformers and inadequately designed systems using materials not designed for the extreme voltage and current. Every accident and death involved devices made with used transformers never designed for this application, inadequately insulated wiring, and open wire connections.

No, any organic material that will absorb the electrolyte solution can be embellished with the burner. Guords, antlers, bones and leather can be embellished. Each of these materials may require the use of different techniques than wood but can be very successfully burned.

Yes; however, there are caveats associated with the answer. You can “paint a specific pattern” on the wood with the electrolyte solution and then burn the image by placing the probes strategically along the pattern. Sometimes this works great, and other times Mother Nature has a different idea and does her own thing. That’s the uniqueness of the Lichtenberg fractal pattern technique.

Yes, the probes are typically placed five to six inches apart. Once the arc paths from each probe connect, you leave one probe at the end of the burn channel and place the other further along the desired pattern. You will want to paint the desired path with the electrolyte solution so the arc will follow it and not venture off course.

Yes, there is a one-year warranty on the burner. Please see the warranty at the end of the instructions.

No, the tips will not wear out nor burn. They will get dirty from the sap in the wood which has no impact on their burning ability. They may be cleaned with a mild abrasive cleaner such as Comet and a Scotchbright pad; however, there really isn’t a need to do so. Do NOT use solvents to clean the tips. Avoid cleaning the acrylic hilt as it’s easily scratched.

Yes, the thickness of the wood is not a factor in the burning process as the burn pattern is relatively shallow; especially, the fern like patterns at the end of the burns. I recommend the wood be sanded to the point where the finish would normally be applied prior to the burning and minor touch-up sanding is only required once the burn pattern is cleaned up. Hard sanding will remove the delicate burn detail very quickly.

No, welding gloves are designed to protect the user from the heat associated with the welding process, not voltage. They will probably help but that is not their primary purpose. I’m currently supplying high voltage gloves approved for 12,000 volts with my burners as an additional safety step in holding the probes. Most of my customers feel very confident with using the burner without the gloves; but they are provided in the event you want that extra degree of safety.

NO, there are no consumer replaceable parts on the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner. Opening, tampering, or modifying the case or probes (including using clamping devices) will violate the instructions, void the warranty and potentially create a safety hazard. In the event of a problem with the burner, please call the number found on the case for guidance and a resolution to the problem.

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