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Picture of Custom electric branding iron
Custom branding irons can be super expensive for leather or woodworking. These are great for putting a small logo somewhere on your product. So what's the alternative? Make your own!

if you want to go super cheap all you need is a really, really big nail. That's what I used to make my first branding irons to put my armadillo logo onto my leather products and used it for years. You can make a simple wood handle for it and just heat it up on a gas stove. Simple and cheap.  You can also use it as a stamp for veg tanned leather.

But it I was tired of heating it up like that so I customized a store bought Walnut Hollow wood burning tool called the versa-tool. You can buy this product at Michael's craft store or online for $29.99. It comes with a bunch of useless points that you probably won't use but some are useful. The newest model has variable temperature adjustment which they didn't make when I bought mine.   You definitely want the one made for wood burning because the cheaper models don't get hot enough.  This project modifies the transfer point which is a round disk shaped tip.  You can also use the tapered point that comes with the brand for pyrography.  Check out my video for that here.
 
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Step 1: Tools

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-Walnut Hollow Versa-tool. ($29.99 at Michael's)
-Transfer point ( get a couple in case you mess up or want to make more designs )

-Hack saw with new blade
And/or
-Dremel with various bits or cut off discs
-Jewelers files (cheapies from Menards)
-Metal files
-Sharpie (fine point)
-Bench vise

Step 2: Secure in vise

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The tips for the branding iron are threaded so you can interchange them. You need to protect the threads on the transfer point from being damaged. I wrapped a piece of leather around the threads and then secured them in the vise.

Step 3: Draw on design

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Use a Sharpie to draw on your design. Remember that whatever you make needs to be the opposite or backwards of what your finished design will be. If you do any letters the need to be reversed.

Using the hack saw or Dremel cut out the rough shape without touching your design.

Step 4: Rough cutting

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Continue to cut with the hack saw or Dremel close to your design. If you have a new hack saw blade you can get quite detailed with it but more so with a Dremel.

Step 5: Detail

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Using jeweler files and/or Dremel with a diamond bit cut out the details close to your design. Take your time and you'll be fine.

To make the eye I used a metal punch to make a tiny divit and then drilled it with a diamond bit for the dremel.

Step 6: Refine

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At this point you can use a fine 400 grit wet sand paper to remove your Sharpie marks and polish it up a bit. Don't round over the edges! You want them nice and crisp. I then compared them to my nail stamp and saw that I needed to clean it up a bit more.

Step 7: Test it

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Screw the threads into your versa-tool and test it out. Clean up any indistinct parts of your design and your done. If you take care to not cross-thread the tip as you put it into the tool this should last forever. Post your designs under comments if you make one. Cheers!
JettSuperior5 months ago

Very cool tutorial! Thanks for posting.

Awesome! Do you know approximately how hot the branding iron gets? I'm wondering if I could do the same thing only with a cheap $5 soldering iron! :D
Phiske (author)  xKOBAYASHIMARUx1 year ago
If I remember correctly the box said 600 fahrenheit. But I bought it like 3 or 4 years ago so don't remember exactly. If you click on the link it will take you to the manufacturers website. I tried a regular soldering iron years ago and just got frustrated. But if you have any success let me know. Post a pic

i sort of did but using a soldering iron in a different way i have an instructable of it

EthanJP1 year ago

How much for a custom one?

EthanJP1 year ago

How much for a custom one?

TheBeaver1 year ago

This is my first comment here as I just signed to the site. Thanks for your instructions! I am really needing to make a brand stamp to my woodcraftings and I was not having this idea. =D sometimes the solutions are under our nose! Cheers!

trker1 year ago
Did you use the same process to make your nail-head punch? It looks great
bgunville1 year ago
very nice project, I like a few of the suggestions but overall well done
silver551 year ago
The real difficulty is to find the thread with the right step.
Sorry I have translated from Italian by Google.
You are correct though. The threading may not necessarily be the same number of threads per inch, which is why hardware lists that along with the diameter and length
chabias1 year ago
Excellent!! I've wanted a brand for my logo for years, but they're SO expensive. I have all the tools to make this. Being a carver, I'm slapping my forehead. Thanks for this!!
Phiske (author)  chabias1 year ago
Cool! Yeah I was surprised I didn't think of sooner too! I've had the tool and been using it quite regularly for 3 or 4 years. I even made one out of a nail like 2 years ago that I've been using and still I didn't think of it till recently.
Raitis1 year ago
I guess it would still be pretty cheap and way more accurate to get your end tip milled on CNC or laser cut. At least that's what I'm thinking of doing, since this gave some food for thoughts.
Currently using a hand cut rubber stamp for my branded tags, but burned in sure sounds better!
Phiske (author)  Raitis1 year ago
I'm sure it would be more accurate. Perfect. I'm in south america though...
But there is a certain sense of satisfaction carving it yourself. Took about 45min. If your doing a lot of text definitely get it made!
woodNfish1 year ago
The best way to protect the threads of the disk from the is is to screw a nut onto it and clamp the nut in the vice jaws.
Phiske (author)  woodNfish1 year ago
That's a great idea.
I just went with what I had on hand. Was to lazy to go to a hardware store to find the right nut.
Nice! What diameter is the transfer point? What is the thread on the end? Having done something similar here is a good way to hold short threads in a vice without damaging them: Get a nut with the same thread. Split it. Screw the thread you want held into the nut and then hold the nut in your vice and tighten.
Whoops! I did not see the other replies before I posted my comment. Obviously great minds think alike :-)
kmalvar1 year ago
Great job. I used a 3 nuts on the threaded end to keep it in place in the vise, instead of the leather. I found the leather wasn't sturdy enough for my design.
Phiske (author)  kmalvar1 year ago
Cool! Post a pic, I'd love to see your design
nice job I'm surely gonna try this out.
Very nice! I like it a lot. :)
Cool idea!
rimar20001 year ago
Very clever idea, nice design.