Shou Sugi Ban or Yakisugi is a technique used in Japan to preserve wood. It was historically applied to cedar boards and used as siding material for buildings and temples. In addition to protecting the wood from insects and rot, burning the siding actually made it less likely for it to catch fire again in the future. For my purposes, I wanted to build a feature wall to use in my garden while also making it portable for use as a backdrop when photographing all the bonsai at this year’s Bonsai Club Show.
Most videos and tutorials I’ve seen use a large propane torch to char the planks. I’ve seen a more traditional method shown where three boards are tied together to form a triangle shape chimney then place over a fire. The chimney effect draws the flame up across all the boards very quickly. I chose to combine these two methods by placing the three board chimney on top of my outdoor propane burner. It’s the type you’d normally see used for deep frying turkeys, or in my case, brewing beer.
It took less than a minute on the burner for the flames to come roaring out the top
Heating on one side causes the wood to warp so I flipped them around to do the other side.
I was very happy with how quickly this method worked, with only one downside. Because of how the 3 boards are bundled together the edges overlap, so I had to do some touchup work on the edges. I was going for the heavily charred, alligator skin texture
When they were all done I went over them all with a push broom to knock off some of the ashes. I built a basic frame out of 2×4’s and nailed the boards to it.
I still need to decide where and how I want to install it in my garden. I will likely make a few modification to it but all it will need is a set of legs attached to make it free standing. Make sure you come check it out at the Fall Bonsai Show! Just don’t brush up against it with a white shirt!