Wood Lichtenberg Figures

Wood Lichtenberg Figures

Warning! This project uses high voltages. Build at your own risk.

This is a really fun and simple project that almost anyone can make. You can make it for yourself or as a gift.


  • Transformer (I used a 6KV Neon Sign Transformer. The higher the voltage, the thicker the stream and the more branches produced)
  • Extension Cord
  • Wood (I used an 8 inch by 3.5 inch piece of Poplar)
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Baking Soda
  • Cup/Glass
  • Sponge
  • Alligator Clips (optional)
  • Scissors or Wire Stripping Tool
  • Paper towels

Preparing the Transformer


First, strip the output and input wires from the transformer.


Then strip the extension cord so the three wires are exposed. Once stripped, connect the input wires from the transformer to the wires from the extension cord. It does matter which wires are hooked up to which.

Cables Connected

The one in the middle (should have green insulation once stripped) is the ground and is hooked up to the ground (green) wire from the transformer. The wire which comes from the left prong (the one that goes in the larger wall input) should be neutral, this hooks up to the white wire. on the transformer. The wire which comes from the right prong (the one that goes into the smaller wall input) should be live/hot, this hooks up to the red wire from the transformer.

Once the wires are hooked up, do not plug it in. You will plug it into the wall in a later step.

Preparing the Wood

Baking Soda

Take your glass or cup and put two tablespoons of baking soda into it. Then pour water into it until it is about 3/4 full.

Soda and Water

Stir the mixture until it is cloudy.

Grab your sponge and soak it up in the mixture while it is still cloudy, do no let the baking soda settle to the bottom.

Wood Coating

Softly rub the sponge onto the side of the wood which you want to have the Lichtenberg Figures.

Get your paper towels and dry the sides of the wood. Some of the mixture might have gotten on the sides.

Burning the Wood

Alligator Clips

I placed alligator clips on the output of the transformer because the wire would not reach far enough.

I also placed a wood beam under the piece of wood which I would be burning for extra insulation.

Alligator Clips On

Set the wire on each end of the wood.

Step back and plug the extension cord which was attached to the transformer into the wall.

Alligator Clips Drawing

Do not touch any part of the wood, transformer, or exposed wires while it is plugged in.

Almost instantly the wood should start burning. Once both sides are connected to each other, the figures will stop being burned into the wood. Once this has happened, unplug the transformer.

Just let the wood sit for about a minute and that is it. You should have your own wood with Lichtenberg Figures on it.

Wood Lichtenberg Figures Final

Make sure the transformer is unplugged before taking the piece of wood.

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