Fire and wax together produce a rich black surface.
Fire might not be the first finishing technique that most woodworkers gravitate toward; then again, I am not most woodworkers.
As a blacksmith and toolmaker, I am around fire every day, and when I began burning my hammer handles, I found it to be a simple way to obtain an alluring surface that set my work apart. It is unlike any other finish I have seen, and it really stands out on its own.
I don’t claim any ownership over this application, because I am sure at some point I saw another blacksmith’s handle done this way. But by now I have done it enough to feel comfortable sharing this technique.
Beyond the charred oak barrels used in distilling spirits and some use of fire finishing in Japanese architecture, I have been hard-pressed to find mainstream examples of burnt wood used as a finishing technique.