WARNING: The following presentation discusses a form of wood finishing which involves the use of an open flame, a torch to be more specific. Please be familiar with your particular device and read all cautions and warnings for said device. The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog nor myself will not be held responsible for any errors in your judgement. The information provided in this post is educational under the assumption that the person attempting this particular technique has a certain degree of common sense. Therefore, if YOU fuck it up YOU yourself is responsible for fucking it up, not me or this blog. One needs to be aware of the dangers involved when using an open flame. In the end, practice first, practice again, and be extremely fucking careful. Again, I will not be held responsible for YOUR errors or victories. The following information is based on my personal experience and knowledge. Got it?


When I lived in Japan I was very lucky to have stumbled upon an older gentleman who was willing to teach me a wood finishing technique called Yaki-Matsu (burnt pine). Since then I have practiced and somewhat perfected my own personal version of this wood finishing technique. I cannot stress enough, seriously, that this can turn into a disaster in a blink of an eye since wood burns, but with a little practice one can tame the flame to make a very unique look on anything made of wood. Also, let me just state that I have 30 plus years experience in woodworking and cabinetry. Therefore, I hate to call this a DIY style post. My intent is to share a technique of wood finishing that others can try on small to large projects. Before you try any of this at home be sure you are aware of what you are doing and be responsible enough to know your personal limits and skills.


In reality this post won’t be an all inclusive do it yourself post on how to burn the grain of the wood to get this special look. Basically, I’m just answering all the questions in advance since it might be hard to grasp the concept and design of my project personally. As one can see from the pictures, my project was to create an island space in a rustic nature to blend in with the cedar woodwork in my sister’s 100+ year old farm house. Also, before all of y’all self appointed experts try to get in my ass for not doing it your way just feel free to hold those opinions. Like any “tradition”, I have taken this technique and made it my own. Trust me, I’ve ruined more than one piece of wood over the years. As mentioned, my sister wanted something unique, not the typical look, not something out of the box, and something that had a ” wow factor”. Overall, it was a very tall order to fill, and not to mention that this has been a time consuming project to say the absolute very least. So let’s begin the highlight reel.


Where y’all see an island used to be a wall with a pass through hole in it. First step, demo the wall and support the second floor. Then to create bar height seating as well as an island that is kitchen counter height. The secondary purpose of the island was for storage. Once the construction portion was complete it was time to talk finishing it all off. I chose to “antique” and distress everything except for the two cedar posts and the actual counter and bar surfaces. Antiquing this much area, to include the ceiling features took a great deal of time. I remind everyone that everything you see was created, from the tongue and groove beaded boards to all the trim, the cabinet doors, and so forth. I left my treatment of the top a secret, a surprise that was either going to make or break this project. By now I can assume that many of y’all have Googled the term “Yaki-Matsu” so I can simply tell y’all it is a technique in which the grain of the wood is kissed with the open flame of a torch. I chose this instead of staining or leaving it natural because of its true uniqueness, as no two boards look the same. When the time came to mount the wood I used square headed barn nails that I liberated from a 147 year old barn we tore down last summer. Yes, I have hundreds and hundreds of feet of barn lumber and no it is not for sale. At the time of these pictures I had not applied the varathane yet. After burning the one all that needs to be done is rubbing the wood down with a dry, clean, soft cloth.


I will post more pictures when I’m 100% done. Hell, the purpose of this post was to let some concerned individuals know what I’ve been up to because they think I have quit blogging or that I’m dead. So far I have around 200 hours invested into it, I probably have at least 20 to go. Just know this, as a final warning, one will come across occasions when using the torch in the house becomes necessary to touch up edges and so forth, remember that most things in our houses don’t react well with open flames, I’m just saying. I guess as I look back over what has been written I can see this wasn’t much of a tutorial at all, which is fitting because I such giving instructions for the most part. If nothing else maybe y’all learned that there is yet another way to beautifully treat wood without stain or paint. I suppose, in the end, I’ll just share some pictures with y’all and call it good.

Cleaning Out The Closet, Literally


At best, many of the younger readers here have never had the opportunity to ever own, what is now considered, a piece of iconic history, something we used to call a “boom box” or a “ghetto blaster” back in the day. And, if you are wondering, the picture above is just such a relic from my younger years, this is what our “portable music device” looked like. Many, like this one, could be plugged into a wall outlet or have the ten (10) D size battery option. But, we could take our music, carried separately, to play anywhere we pleased. But, enough about my very vague history lesson, that’s not what this post is actually about, it is partly about how we personally like to hear, listen, and feel the energy our music choices.

So, anyway, y’all may have read that I’m unemployed once again, boo hoo me, so I decided to go out to my shop and “piddle about” for a while, listen to my heavy metal music loudly through my ear buds plugged into my cell phone. Its not an uncommon site to see me, yes even at my age, having my music playing directly into my head, cooking off brain cells left and right, for the pure enjoyment of it. As a bonus, it blocks out the “noise” of the world around me. My wife calls my music my “security blanket”, I call it bliss. Let’s just say I have enough digital music on my devices (two devices) that if played straight through, 24 hours a day, I wouldn’t hear the same song twice or repeat for around 27 months (that’s just shy of 20,000 hours of music). Now, add in that I have over 100 eight-track tapes, over 300 vinyl albums, 200 plus cassette tapes, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 plus audio CDs. And yes, I have ” old school ” devices from back in the days to listen to it all. Anyway, I was looking for an old wood chisel set buried somewhere in the shop storage closet to clean up some detail work on a old mantel piece I rescued from this last place I worked for the two weeks. It was a beautiful piece of hand tooled wood that was replaced with a more modern piece of polished marble. Anyway, I saved this 7′ behemoth from the dumpster, knowing I could bring it back to its original 40’s glory.

As I dig, I move shit from here to there and there to someplace else when I find the antique wooden box (circa early 50’s) that had been passed down from father to son a few times over the years, sitting on a shelf under something covered in an old sheet. Lifting the sheet revealed my old boom box. I quickly became sidetracked, yanked the sheet off, and took the old friend out to the work bench. When I plugged her in all the lights came on and everything, I don’t think it has had power put to it since ’99, so I was impressed. I noticed a cassette tape in the in one of the spaces, pressed play, and out of the speakers came, very clear I might add, the voice of Ronnie James Dio, singing “Don’t talk to strangers”. I was transported back in time, to another era, to the day I bought this cassette, upgrading for mobility, to have another format besides the vinyl, that could be played on the go. Do you remember going into music stores just to browse? The musty dusty smell of a place where every generation was welcome and had a place? I sure do, very fond memories indeed. There was certain satisfaction, an anticipation if you will, of walking out of the music store, not being able to wait to get into your room, close your door, and slowly open your new music. And then, then the feeling when you pushed play for the very first time, a virgin tape no longer, hearing the pre-song static, and then, only then, would the sweet music of your choice start leaking out of the speakers, I call this moment one’s musical listening climax, because now you can lay back and just listen. Too dramatic?

Needless to say, the ear buds were out for the rest of the day, as I listened to Dio many times, front and back, never skipping a song, it was a bliss amidst the chaos for me, I was consumed with it, I even caught myself smiling a time or three remembering the past. Funny how music works that way, funny how music can change one’s mood almost instantly, and funny how when life blows or life glows, I turn to my friend, I turn to music. A few of y’all will understand me and the rest of y’all are still scratching your heads. Read the caption in the picture below, if you understand it then you know what I have always known. And, thanks to Rexi, I borrowed it from her Facebook wall, I thought it would really bring my point home.