Frequently Asked Questions

What voltage is required for a Lichtenberg Wood Burner – The Lightning Box?

The Lichtenberg Wood Burner “The Lightning Box” is available in two voltage configurations. The North American (United States, Canada and Mexico) model operates on 110 volts, 60 Hertz, and 1000 watts. It has a Special 20A three prong plug that requires an adapter to fit a standard 15A receptacle. The burner VVR must be adjusted to lower the amperage if used on a 15A circuit. The International model operates on 220 volts, 50 Hertz, and  1000 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.

Why doesn’t my burner start burning?

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.

Will the burner burn deep channels that can be filled with epoxy?

Yes, Our MOT burner will burn deep channels in the wood. The power can be adjusted with the VVR (Variable Voltage Regulator) so you can also burn fine detailed patterns. When burning deep channels, be sure to monitor the current draw (ampere draw) with the volt/ammeter on the front panel of the burner, and regulate the amperes to below 20 amperes.

How to apply the electrolyte solution.

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.

What is the best wood to burn?

The best wood to burn 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 burn quite well.

How do I set up my workplace?

Place the item being burned on an insulated surface.  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 burned when the footswitch is activated. Do not allow anyone to touch the item being burned 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 burned is on an insulated pad.

Will the burner set off smoke detectors?

Yes, the Lichtenberg Figure Wood Burner “The Lightning Box”will produce a flame while burning wood, but it will create smoke. Use it in a well-ventilated area to avoid setting off the smoke detectors. A range hood is a good way to vent the smoke. If you get flames, adjust the VVR or stop the burn.

Why not hold the probes?

The probes are insulated to over 50,000 volts. If you decide to hold the probes, don’t hold both. The danger is that you may drop a probe accidentally and have a quick reflex action to grab it. That can be fatal! It’s much safer to use the adjustable legs to position the probes, stop the burn, and move the probes.

Why is the Lichtenberg Wood Burner “The Lightning Box” safer than the DIY YouTube burners?

Safety is designed into my burners. My burners are a complete system with a power supply, probes, footswitch, power cord, with FREE shipping. It has many safety features in the power supply. Dual, push-pull fans, thermal overload switch, manual-reset circuit breaker, 12kv silicone power circuit wires inside, 30kv probe leads, 50kv insulated probe handles, quick disconnect leads and footswitch, Custom built transformer (not a MOT), a VVR to adjust the voltage (similar to a Variac), a volt/ammeter, three power control switches (footswitch and burner power switch must be pressed to burn), all wire connections are soldered and crimped.

What material can be burned with the Lichtenberg Wood Burner “The Lightning Box?

Any organic material that will absorb the electrolyte solution can be burned with the burner. Gourds, antlers, bones and leather can be burned. Each of these materials may require the use of different techniques than wood but can be very successfully burned.

How can I create a specific pattern with the burner?

You can “paint a 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 wood burner “The Lightning Box”.

Is there a warranty on the Lichtenberg Wood Burner “The Lightning Box”?

Yes, there is a 60-day warranty on the burner. A warranty is to assure that the parts perform as required. It’s not an indication of the expected life cycle. There is no warranty for parts damaged due to heat. If you operate the burner at high amperage, you will overheat the transformer. Please see the warranty at the bottom of the page on our website.

Do the probe tips wear out and need replacing?

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 wire brush, brass or steel, however, there really isn’t a need to do so.

Can I burn wood that is one to two inches thick?

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.

Will welding gloves provide protection from the high voltage?

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.

Is there a fuse in the burner?

NO, there is a manually reset circuit breaker that is redundant if your house has an adequate electrical circuit.