You may have seen some of those cool "lightning strike" woodburned fretboards and stuff, but it's always seemed way too dangerous for me to want to have a go at. I've just picked up on this UK news article about a man who died whilst trying this technique. It's a harrowing and very sad event, and I'd urge anyone thinking about trying this to consider the very real dangers.

I take this as a reminder not to jury-rig power tools or electrical equipment - this can and does have fatal results. You don't get a second chance when death comes dashing into your workshop with a 2000volt homemade thunderbolt. Please be careful out there.

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Yes John, that's why i made the mains to primary circuit as safe as i could, but i might add a dead man footswitch before the box, on the HV secondary side, i could come up with nothing to make it safe, so i went down the physical isolation route, that way, i have to knowingly break the rules to touch the live area.

That is the way to go!  I did add a foot switch to the mains side...

For demonstration purposes, we have a large box with a plexiglass lid, the lid has a micro-switch, wired in series with the foot switch.  Signs everywhere say don't touch even the box... anybody gets close, the foot comes off...   

Used one of my first pieces for a neck.  A piece of oak.


Our American Association of Woodturners (12,000 + members) has banned any demonstration of these techniques at any of the national or regional symposia. There have been deaths other than this one CBJ reported.

There is a commercial unit available and it includes several safeguards. I have one and will post info and a pic when I get back home-I'm currently on the road teaching (woodturning).

I don't really use it-its sort of a one trick pony.


I don't understand why anyone would want to do this. You can get the very same random results using a woodburner. Why risk life or limb to take a short cut? As someone who has recently survived having 110 go up threw my left knee and out my right hand I have to say No. Just no. 

Cause, I totally understand your concern.  Not sure how this is a shortcut though, love to see how to get similar results with a woodburner.


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