Customer Support & FAQ

Although it doesn't happen very often, we realize that even the best tools can wear out, or have a part go bad that needs replacement, (usually right before the big show ;-). For this reason we make it a point to get your repair done fast, but at a reasonable price.

If you are having any problems with your PJL tool that you purchased from PJL Enterprises, or any dealer for that matter, please feel free to send me an email, or give me a call at 1-320-594-2811. Because PJL is the manufacturer, we can diagnose and usually repair your Optima burner or grinder, sometimes without you having to send in anything. When sending email, please state your name, address, day & evening phone numbers, product name,(Optima 1 or Optima 2, etc...), Date of purchase; and of course, its symptoms.

Sometimes it is not necessary to send in your entire tool in to be repaired. If you just have a bad cord, for example, only your cord would have to be sent in or a new one sent out to you. Checking with us first can save you time, and sometimes money in shipping costs. If you have an emergency that requires that you have a working tool immediately, please give us a call. We can sometimes send you a shop model, or needed accessories overnight or 2nd day air.

Frequently Asked Questions
Updated 01/09/2007

  1. Wattage, the real deal.

  2. Compatibility with other brand's unit?

  3. Using our pens with Detail Master adapter cords.

  4. What's the difference between standard and Heavy duty pen styles?

  5. Which type of cord should I get?

  6. Trouble shooting burner problems

  7. How to correct for voltage variances

  8. Why don't you have replaceable tips?

  9. Sharpening your pen tips

  10. Customizing your unit

  11. Different looking Optima 2's

  12. Reliability of Ultima

  13. Can I use another brand's cords or pens on the Optima 1 pyrography tools?

  14. I Lost the instructions to my Optima 1 or Optima 2 Plus, where can get another copy?

  15. Which Pen tips should I get?

  16. Can you ship to Europe/Overseas, and/or what is the shipping cost?

  17. Why is XYZ's Micro Motor handpieces cheaper than the Optima 2?

Q: Why doesn't PJL make burners with higher wattage ratings?  I see other brands that have units ranging from 50 watts all the way up to 130 watts.

A: Well Virginia, when it comes to burner power supply wattage ratings, their ain't no Santa Clause.... There are a lot of burner wattage claims that are, in reality....., fiction. You should not let yourself be persuaded by such wattage claims, as these wattage's are being produced by the manufacturer, and in a somewhat dubious manner.... To see an in-depth detailed example and explanation of wattage rating tests, click here.  If you have a high speed internet connections, you may be interested in this little demonstration that I did (Click here for smaller Dial-up version).

Q: Are your wood burning pens compatible with Navesink Designer Deluxe model, and can they be used on this burner ?

A: Yes, our pen bodies are directly compatible with most other brands (except Detail Master). Most burners use an "RCA" type of jack. Colwood and Nibs also use this same type of jack to connect to the pen body. Your pen cord should have a "female" type RCA jack that your pens plug into (pen body has a male RCA). You should have no problems using the Optima burning pens on the Navesink (or Colwood, Nibs, etc...). You would, however, get better linear control (doesn't go from too cold to too hot) with our Optima 1 power supply (Our power supply circuit design is superior to other brands). By the way, we do sell a Detail Master adapter cord, so that our pens may be used on Detail Master Power supplies.

Q: Can I use regular as well as heavy duty Optima pens with the Detail Master using an adapter cord?

A: Yes, you can use either the Standard or Heavy Duty pens with an adapter cord, but we now have two different Detail Master adapter cords to offer. The cord and pen type you choose is largely dependant on your carving style (high heat carver or low heat carver) and which pen types that you get. Keep in mind that our pens are detachable from the cord.

Q: What is the difference between the Standard and Heavy Duty pen styles, and which style should I get?

A: Our original slim line pens, "Standard", are meant for doing ultra fine detailing at lower temperatures, and are not meant for high heat or high mechanical pressure situations. The Standard pen tips use the smallest diameter tip wire available, and are therefore capable of doing finer detailing than any other brand. The Heavy Duty pens have a larger diameter tip wire, carve a wider line than the standard pens, and can be used to heat carve, notch, and burnish for longer periods of time. The tips are also more durable, and able to take more mechanical pressure. For certain "bent" tips like numbers 13, 14, & 15 we recommend getting a heavy duty pen, and using a heavy duty cord. Any burnishing type tip that would be "sinking" allot of heat to the wood benefits from the heavy duty cord greatly, even in the standard type of pens. As far as which style to get, it depends on how you are used to carving. If you are a novice, like to heat carve, or intend to use it to notch or gouge, then you should consider the Heavy Duty style pens. If you are looking to get the finest detail possible, then our original Standard slim line pen style is what you want.

Q: Which type of cord should I get? The Standard 18 gauge, or new Heavy Duty 16 gauge?

A: The new 16 gauge Heavy Duty cord is recommended for use with the Heavy Duty style pens, and will give remarkable heat recovery when using the Heavy Duty style pens. The 18 gauge cord will supply ample power to most of our original "Standard" slim line pens. If however you have a burnishing tip(#8), writing tip(#9), Guge tip(#14 or #15), or flat work / fish scale tip(#13) in either style of pen, I would recommend getting the Heavy Duty cord. Any tip that will have allot of its surface area contacting the wood will "sink" allot of heat to the wood, therefore you would benefit greater heat recovery with the Heavy Duty cord. The down side of using a Heavy Duty cord with our Standard original slim line pens, is that you may not get as low of a "low end" range on most tips styles as you can get with the Standard 18 gauge cord. This is especially critical when using our Standard pen tips in conjunction with someone else's power supply, as almost all other brands do not let you set the "low end" of the power supply output.

Q: My pen cord gets hot near one of its jacks, and my pens do not seem to work very well or not at all.

A: First of all, check to see if the pen is fully plugged into the cord jack, and that the other end of the cord is securely inserted into the power supply chassis mount jack, (it happens). Otherwise you more than likely have a bad cord. Do NOT use it, as you may melt either the plastic jack body of your pen or the power supply face plate. To see if this is the case, you can do one of two things. If you have a friend or a local dealer that will let you borrow a new (or known to work) Optima or compatible cord, use it to see if it now works with the new cord attached. If the borrowed cord works, obviously it was a bad cord problem. If it did not work (with any of your pens) then you may have a power supply problem.
If you cannot borrow another cord, then you need to rule out any problems with the power supply. Turn the power supply adjust knob to the lowest setting. Turn the unit on. If the red indicator light does not light up, check to see that the unit is plugged into the wall properly, and that your fuse or circuit breaker is not blown (it happens). Then plug your largest tipped pen directly into the power supply chassis mount jack (be careful not to turn the adjust knob above 3, as it may burn out the tip). If the pen doesn't get hot now, you definitely have a power supply problem. Make sure it is not a faulty pen, by using more than one pen to carry out these tests. You may send any cord or power supply repairs (via UPS or US Mail) directly to PJL Enterprises, PO Box 273, 720 Perry Ave. N. Browerville, MN 56438. Give me a call at 320-594-2811 if you are not sure what the problem is.

Q: I use my Optima 1 burner, (or Ultima), at home and take it to carving classes. Its low end range is very different from place to place, and it sometimes even seems to shut off if I turn it down too far. Why is this, and can this be remedied?

A: Most people are not aware that voltages can vary widely from building to building, and sometimes vary greatly from inside the same building. In the old shop, we had voltages that could vary from 95 volts all the way up to 130 volts, depending what other electronic devices were attached to that circuit. We had this in mind when the Optima 1 burner power supply was designed.

On the older units, you will find a small hold drilled in the back panel. Inside that hole, you will see what looks like a 1/8 inch long thin slot in the middle of a round white plastic piece surrounded by a black round case with metal leads. This is known as a "surface mount" potentiometer.  Newer units have this access hole on the bottom of the box, underneath the main adjustment knob. 

This potentiometer is used to adjust the "low end" of the power supply. This access hole is located on the left side bottom of the newer Ultima, or the right side of an older metal Ultima box. If you have an older Optima 1 in the small "all black" plastic box, the access hole is on the side usually facing you (opposite end from the 110 A/C cord). All Optima 1 and Ultima power supplies let you have access to this potentiometer, give me a call if you cannot find it (320-594-2811).

To adjust your low end, first find a small flat screw driver that will fit in this slot (preferably insulated). Plug in your smallest tipped pen (like a #10 small skew) onto the pen cord, and set the front dial to its lowest setting. Use a light wood like Tupelo, or if need be, a thick paper (like tag board). Turn the unit so that the adjustment hole will be easily accessible to you during adjustment.

1:  On older units, turn the low end adjustment all the way clockwise.  On newer units (access hole on bottom of the box), turn the adjustment all the way counter-clockwise.
2:  Turn the main control knob all the way down (counter-clockwise).
3:  Unplug any attached pens.
4:  Turn on the unit (it should have already been off).
5:  Plug in your pen.
6:  On older units, slowly turn the low end adjustment counter-clockwise.  On newer units, slowly turn the low end adjustment clockwise.  Listen closely to the power supply while turning the adjustment.
7:  When you hear the power supply start to faintly "buzz", you've reached your optimum low end adjustment.

At this point you should have a suitable low end adjustment. If you unplug the burning pen from the cord, and plug it back in again (without shutting off the power supply unit) and you find that you again have no heat on the tip; you need to go back to step 3 again (you adjusted into the "gray area" of the circuit threshold in step 6, or you already had the pen plugged in when you turned on the power). Or (with the pen plugged in) you could try and turn the unit off, and then on again, (this sometimes brings the control circuit back to life), At which point you would need to turn the screwdriver (very slightly) to bring up the low end to the point where it will not shut off when changing pens.

Q: Why don't you have replaceable tips? Wouldn't it be more economical for your customers to have this option?

A: We don't do "user replaceable" tips, because they are intrinsically problematic.

Although we've been asked to carry replaceable tip versions of our pens, we do not, and for several very good reasons. These reasons are as follows: A non-welded tip will have bad intermittent conductive properties between the nichrome tip and the brass carrier, and our customers would not be as satisfied in the long run. These conditions are high heat near the connection (which anneals any spring tension that connector might have once had), low surface area, extremely low voltage AC current, and two dissimilar metal alloys (a very bad combination). Although some brands have friction fitted "brass to brass" connectors, they too will eventually suffer from corrosion, mechanical wear (which is accelerated by annealing), and they will eventually have poor intermittent conductive properties.

Another annoying problem with them, because of that connection, is that the tips WILL tend to wiggle a bit when applying even a little radial pressure.   Which makes it difficult to do precision work.

This is why the vast majority of professional pyrographic artists and teachers insist on using "fixed tipped" pens ONLY! Why else would any company that makes replaceable tipped pens, also make fixed tipped pens (and they all do)? Because very few high profile or celebrated artists would ever touch their products otherwise....

Besides, for what our competitors charge for their "replaceable tips" (not to mention what they then want for the pen body), I feel that you are much better off (in the long run) spending a few dollars more for each pen body & tip, and have a pen that will work properly throughout its lifetime, with little or no thought needed on your part (i.e. no fiddling with it to get it to work).

Most pyrographic artists tend to stick to only a few tip styles. So it's not like having replaceable tips is somehow going to open up a whole new world of opportunities, and "free" your artistic style. That premise usually results with the person over buying several pen tips, and using only a few of them (an absolute waist of money). Keep in mind, our pens can be re-tipped here at our factory, if you were to ever break or wear one out, for only $7.00 each (not including shipping).

For all the reasons stated above, I tend to think of the whole concept of buying replaceable tipped wire tip pens as being "penny wise, dollar foolish". Put another way, would you rather buy ten inexpensive $1.00 widgets, or one $10.00 widget that outlasts 20 of the cheap ones? 

Oh, there is one more reason why I don't do replaceable tipped pens, which you may have already guessed.  It has to do with something known as "pride of craftsmanship".  In other words, I refuse to make junk....


Q: How often should I sharpen my pen tips, and what should I use to do it with? How can I make them last longer?

A: Usually, only once or twice a year depending on usage. To knock off carbon from time to time, lightly buff the tips occasionally with a leather strop or small cloth buffing wheel (fits on a dremel wheel mandrel), with a small amount of polishing rouge or buffing compound. An overnight soak in oven cleaner can sometimes take off heavy carbon deposits, but be careful that you do not soak the brass or silver solder (read the directions for your oven cleaner to see what metals it will safely clean). To determine if your tip needs to be sharpened or "re-honed", examine your tips under a magnifying glass. If the edge of the tip looks rounded or their is not a well defined angle, you could probably re-sharpen the tip. BTW, over buffing (using a "leather power strop" wheel for example) will prematurely lead to the metal "rolling over" the edge, causing your tip to get kind of a rounded edge. To sharpen your pen, use a fine stone, (or if need be, 800 or higher grit wet and dry sand paper). Sharpen your pen tips at a 30 to 35 degree angle. Do NOT sharpen them at a sharper angle, as you will then carve too deep, and have problems in the painting stage of your carvings.

To make your tips last longer: NEVER use sandpaper of any sort to buff off carbon. Burning at lower temperatures will keep carbon build-up off of the tip in the first place, and keeps the tips from oxidizing. Unlike what Detail Master recommends, NEVER turn your power supply on high to "anneal" a tip. This will just lead to premature oxidation, and may damage some of the smaller Standard style tips. Put your pens back into their pen tubes after each use, a pen tip hitting the floor is the most common type of tip damage. Stick a small amount of foam or Styrofoam into the pen tube's cap if you are transporting your Optima allot. I have seen our tips last over 10 years, when properly cared for!

Q: I currently have a hot tool ("soldering iron" type of burner) with screw on tips. Can this somehow be plugged into your power supply so I could vary its heat output?

A: Well, yes and no.... The standard Optima 1 power supply puts out very low voltage at high amps, where your old "soldering iron" type plugs directly into 110/120 A/C, besides it wouldn't fit into the jack.... However, for an extra $10.00, I can put an A/C plug on the back of unit. Then you could still use your old hot tool for some things, and use our power supply to vary its heat output (as long as it consumes less than 170 watts). I am not sure how this would affect our pens performance / linear range, if you have it plugged in whilst using our pens.

Q: I have recently completed my first decoy carving class.  At the class, and in several publications, I have noticed two very different looking Optima 2 power carving tools. One design resembles the Optima 1 woodburner and the other is a square unit with the handpiece attached to the top. Could you tell me the difference?

A: The current Optima 1 wood burner and Optima 2 Plus micro motor tool, use the same type of box (gray box with black front and back panels, and white lettering) for the power supply; (we're trying to keep our costs down). The black one that you seen, with the jack connection on the top of the box is from a several years back, (I'm assuming it was a smaller plastic box you seen). Some publications still haven't bothered to update their photo of our units, we no longer sell it in the old style box.  Their could be some slightly different electronics depending on the motor being used with it, or whether it had been sent in for an upgrade.

Q: I am thinking of buying an Ultima, Combination Burner & Micro Motor Tool. I am afraid that if the grinder side of the power supply stops working, then the burner would then also stop working (or vice versa).

A: The odds that either side of the power supply would stop working are somewhat remote to begin with. The odds that both of them would stop working a the same time, are almost astronomical.   The Ultima power supply is noticeably larger, because it is basically an Optima 1 burner power supply AND an Optima 2 Plus power supply in one box (2 different transformers, 2 different control circuits). The only known way for both sides to go down at the same time, would be if you had a really bad "Burn to Grind" switch (pretty rare), or if the 110V A/C power cord itself was faulty (very rare). Otherwise, both the motor handpiece coil cord and the burning pen cord would have to go bad at the same time (extremely rare, I've never seen it happen). This is why the Ultima carries a full LIFETIME PARTS & LABOR warranty against manufacturer defects; on the power supply, cords, and pen body (Motor handpiece has a 1 year limited warranty, pen "tips" are not warranted as their use or abuse is beyond our control).

Q:  Can I use another brand's cords or pens on the Optima 1 pyrography tools?

A:  Yes and No...  You can use certain Mfg.'s cords and pens on the Optima 1 (those that are plug compatible ONLY), but we can't guarantee their performance.  The Optima 1 pens and cords are made and optimized to be used with the Optima 1 power supply unit.  If you do use another manufacture's cords or pens, make sure that the cord jacks fit snug, as a loose connection will heat up, not work correctly, and possibly cause damage.

A notice on using a 1/4" mono jack cords with an adapter jack on the Optima 1 burners. DON'T DO IT! (It may void your warranty)... I felt that I should put this information here, as a few unscrupulous dealers had recently sold this setup to a few Optima 1 owners.

The 1/4" mono phono jacks used on a few other brands can get VERY hot to begin with, as they are a major bottleneck (Upwards of 260 degrees F internally). If you also introduce an RCA to 1/4" jack adapter, so that you can operate 1/4" mono jack type pens from the Optima 1 power supply, the heat generated by both of those components/bottlenecks will cause the insulation inside our chassis mount jack to melt, and eventually cause a dead short (which will then melt other components). This is not a fault of the Optima 1 burner design (our jacks do not even get warm under normal conditions); but it is rather an inherent fault of jack adapters, of any sort, and 1/4" mono phono jacks (they are both big bottlenecks, that's why they get hot). Using a replaceable tipped pen with that jack/adapter combination will cause it to fail even faster!

You will not get much for heat recovery from that setup any ways (extremely poor actually), and it will void your warranty. It is also liable to start melting components on/inside your power supply. If you have older pens with 1/4" mono jack pen cords permanently attached (i.e. Detail Master), we can retrofit their cords with our standard male RCA jack, so that it can be used on the Optima 1 power supply (for a nominal fee of $5.00). If you do this yourself, or have someone else do this, our warranty will not cover any damage incurred (so be very careful). If not done properly, a short may develop (always test to see if jack gets hot, it shouldn't). If one small wire strand causes even an intermittent short close to the power supply; the Optima 1 power supply is capable of producing enough amperes to melt the lead/tin solder, not to mention the plastic insulation, inside of the jacks! It is best to have us, the power supply manufacturer, fix or retrofit any malfunctioning or mismatched cords. The use of "home made" or "non Optima 1" cords on the Optima 1 power supply is also not recommended, and may void your warranty if any damage to the Optima 1 power supply occurs.


Q. I Lost, or did not receive, the instructions for my Optima 1 burner or Optima 2 Plus Micro Motor Tool

Click here for our current Optima 1 InstructionsClick here for our current Optima 2 Plus Instuctions.  Ultima owners just download each of those instructions.


Q Which Pen tips should I get?

A.  Well, that all depends on what you are doing. If you plan to do "flat work" art similar to Cheryl Dow's (see books & videos section of my web site for pictures), I would probably recommend the PH12 and either the PH18M or PH18. Cheryl's art is somewhat realistic, with textured parts for the fur or hair. If your art is more abstract, I may recommend something else entirely.

Here are some general hints about pen tip designs. There are three basic tip styles, and a few "odd ball" types that we make.

Many of the pen tips are what we call "blade tips" (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 12s), and are used to make very fine textures on wood (or gourds or leather). These tips are just a little bit thicker than a standard single edged razor blade (0.015" or 0.381mm thick) for the HD style pens, but are usually only sharpened to a 65 to 70 degree edge (bevel to bevel). Most, of these pens are used for carving, but a few are used for flat work.

A few tips, while still flattened like the blade tips, do not have a sharpened edge like the blade tips, and they are bent at a 45 degree angle to be used as shaders (13s, 13m, 13L, 18s, 18m, & 18). The 2 and 3 can also be made into shaders, they are then referred to as the 2B and 3B when made into a shader (the "B" stands for bent).

There are then the writing tips, which I refer to as "single point of contact" tips (9, 9PP, 9MS, 9M, 19S, 19M, 19L, & 19XL). These are good at making small circles, writing (text sized depends on tip size), pointillism (using small dots to make up a picture), and sometimes used for shading (on gourds). While good at doing these jobs, they are not particularly good at extremely fine detail (except for the 9PP), or drawing straight lines (the wood grain tends to keep it from going in a straight line). One thing you have to keep in mind about writing tips (except the 9PP) is that they are usually used to make finer lines than their actual size. For example: Even though a tip like the 19M is about 2mm in diameter, you would have to push it into the wood 1mm to get a line 2mm wide. Another thing you have to keep in mind, is that the smaller the writing tips, the easier it likes to dig into the wood. So for finer tips, you need to have a lighter touch. For the 9PP, you actually have to "float" the tip, to keep it from digging into the wood (i.e., you don't rest it against the wood while using it, you use your hand and wrist to keep the tip depth into the wood even). Of the writing tips, the PH9 is considered an old design (obsolete). It was primarily used by carvers to just sign their names. Because it does not have a "choke point", it tends to inject a lot of heat into the handpiece, and is only good when using for only short periods of time. The 9M (M stands for "Modified") and 9MS are derivatives of the 9, but are ground symmetrically so that the end is perfectly round, and not oval shaped like the 9 is. Because the 9M & 9MS are ground like this, they have a "choke point" near the end of the tip, and tend not to inject as much heat into the handpiece like the 9 would. The 19 series of pens tend to heat up a little slower than most other pen, as they have a bit of mass on the end, so bigger ones take longer. The 19 pens can be used for shading, on either flat work, gourds, or leather. One technique is to use something like a 19S or 19M, and basically move it in small tight circles continuously moving it around to make foliage for bushes and trees.

The odd-balls in our collection of tips are the 8, 14, 15, 16 and the 17. The 8 & 17 are nearly identical, but for one critical difference. The 8 is simply a piece of resistance wire shaped like a blade, but not flattened (that's it). It tends to inject more heat into the handpiece than most tips because of this.  The 17 starts out the same, but its working edge or "face" is ground into a "V" shape, so that it works like a micro wedge. The 8 would be used where you want longer straight lines that would match up better to tightly curved sections you would make with a 9 or 9M tips (makes a U shaped trench). The 8 or 17 can also be used for larger calligraphy.  The 17 will make a V shaped trench. It is typically used to make course hair or fur on wood, or (what is known as) a "stop cut" line on gourds when using leather dye or water colors to stain them.  People doing pyrography on leather tend to like the 17 over a blade type pens, as it tends not to cut through the leather so easily. The depth and width of a line made with either the 8 or 17 are directly dependent upon not only on the heat level and speed you use them at, but also the amount of pressure you apply. You can get a fairly fine line with a 17 when used with only a little bit of pressure (at low or high temperatures). The 14, 15, & 16 are also "odd balls". The 14 & 15 are used by bird carvers to burnish down the "feather bums" when making feathers on a 3 dimensional bird. These two are the only left and right handed tips we make. The 16 is about 1/10th to 1/8th inch wide, and is used for calligraphy 1/4" to 3/4" high letters.

Now, I'll discuss some of the basic shapes in the different tips, and their uses.

Of the "blade tips", the 1, 4, 7, & 11 are what I call "long contact tips", and they are used to make longer fine straight lines (with maybe some curvature). Because of the length of the blade (or working edge), they tend to follow themselves through the cut/burn, so they tend to make straighter, and more evenly burnt lines even through wood grain. The 8 & 17 are also long contact tips, although not "blade knife" types, they too are used to make longer lines, just wider. Basically, any tip that has a straight working edge that is longer than 3mm, and is pulled through the wood from its heel to its point is considered a long contact tip. In some respects, the 14 & 15 could be considered in this category too, but they are used to burnish down wood on the edges of bird feathers.

Three blade pens that are the opposite of a long contact tip, are the 10, 12, & 12S. Because the 10 is relatively short, it is not the greatest at making longer lines. The 12 and 12S are similar in shape, but different in size. The 12 is used for making short hair or fur, among other things. Because of its curved edge, the blade is not ideal for long straight lines. However, it is ideal for making texture that looks a lot like fine fur, and it can turn very quickly (unlike an 11). The 12S is very similar, and is usually used when pyrographing very small items or features on flat work or a carving. Almost everyone gets the 12, as it is a very versatile texturing tip on carvings, flat work, and even gourds.

Pens like the 2, 3, & 5 are usually used on carvings, to get under wings and similar situations. Because these 3 tips are symmetrical, they can be left unsharpened and bent into a shading tip instead (2=2B, 3=3B, & 5=18M when bent).

Shading tips: Our two standard shading tips which most people use are the 13 and the 18, which are both each available in 3 sizes (Small, Medium, and Large). Most people either get the 13M, the 18, or the 18M.  The 13M is used on flat work pyrography for when your drawing man made structures, which tend to have straight lines, and (for example) is good for doing things like putting a shadow on the inside of a door frame.  The 13 can also be use somewhat like the 14 or 15, in burnishing down the edges of bird feathers and the like, especially on smaller bird carvings. The 13 has a 3rd use as a freestyle fish scaler on fish carvings (but not recommended for that use on flat work).  The 18 & 18M shaders are used more for animals, people, or anything found in nature. Because the 18 has a curved edge that comes to a point, it is more conducive for shading curved edges (things in nature tend to be curved).  The 2B & 3B are also shading tips, used for various situations where you want a tight rounded end. Any shading tip can also be used as a "stamper" tip.  For example, you could use an 18 or 18M and stamp the heel around a central pivot point or small circle to make a simple flower design.  The edges of shading tips are not sharpened, but it can still be useful.   For example, you might use the edge of a 13 or 18 to make the foreground grass in a field by turning your work upside down (grass is similar to fur in that it is thicker at the base, thin at the tips), and pulling the tip edge toward you in short fast strokes.   You would then use the 12 in the same fashion to do the finer background grass, and overlapping it a bit into the foreground grass.  Larger shading tips (13L, 18, & 3B) have a gap in the center section of the tip, as they are only made of 18 gauge thick wire.  The smaller versions of these tips (13M, 18M, & 2B) do not have a gap, but do have a fine (almost microscopic) "crack" where the metal wires met each other when they were pressed flat.


Q    Can you ship to Europe/Overseas, and/or what is the shipping cost? 

Yes, we can ship overseas to most countries.  Shipping costs depends on what the weight is.

You can calculate the shipping cost via (U.S. Post office web site). Direct link =   Select your country from the drop down list menu, check the "Package" option, then enter the weight (see next paragraph), and click the "continue" button on the bottom right.  Select Express or Priority Mail International, and use the "online" postage rate column to calculate your postage.  Be sure to add the insurance amount after this screen (it should be insured for the price of the unit, plus any accessories or extras)..

The Optima 1 Single unit weighs about 2 pounds 8 ounces (add 1 ounce for each extra pen ordered).
The Optima 1 Dual weighs 2 pounds 12 ounces (add 1 oz for each extra pen).
The Optima 2 Plus tool weighs 3 pounds 8 ounces.
The Ultima weighs 5 pounds 8 ounces (again, add 1 ounce for each extra pen). 
If you are ordering a Cheryl Dow book with your Optima 1 burner, add 9 ounces for your initial book, and 6 ounces for each additional book (we have to go up a box size for that first one).  Cheryl's DVD set weights about 4 ounces.

USPS is the least expensive method of shipping overseas. Generally, for complete units we only ship with methods that are insurable (Priority mail or Express mail International). Global Express can also be used, but it is generally more expensive. For small, less expensive items (a few burning pens or a cord), First Class mail is acceptable, and much less expensive. I believe that APO/FPO addresses are shipped at the domestic rate, but may only be sent via priority mail.

We do make 220/240 VAC versions of all of our tools. It only costs $2.00 more, as we add an AC adapter jack to make our US jack compatible with European wall sockets. Just make a note of it in the "Notes" field on our order form.

Q    Why is XYZ's Micro Motor handpieces cheaper than the Optima 2?

Well, they are "cheaper", but they are also more expensive in the long run.  Click here for a detailed explanation in our "tools tips" section, which gives several compelling reasons why that "Cheap Handpiece", will end up costing you much more money down the road after just a few years.


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