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So, this all started because I'm getting married. And for wedding favors we wanted to hand out little wood disks with a magnet glued on the back, with a monogram woodburned into it. Sounds great right? Except we need to make like 200 of these things. So no way I'm doing it by hand. Thus..

Why not make a custom brand that you can use as much as you like?

I wanted to make one that would last and that could be used many times over the years. I thought a simple coat hanger wire one would distort after lots of use, and I wouldn't be able to get the detail I wanted.

I had never done anything like this...

But I won a cordless Dremel from the Halloween Challenge! Time to put that thing to use!

Step 1: Materials

Total cost of construction was only about $25, it would have been even cheaper but I needed to buy special bits for my Dremel.

What you'll need:
Materials

- The design of whatever you want to wood burn
- A piece of metal plate stock - I used 1/4", that should work for most everything
- A solid or hollow metal rod for a handle

Tools
- A Dremel or other rotary tool - I won one from Instructables in the Halloween challenge, thanks Instructables!
- Tungsten Carbide cutting bits - get a fine and regular size
- A hacksaw or other metal cutting device
- A vise to hold the workpiece
- A sharpie, and a pencil or carbon transfer paper
- Safety gear - earplugs or headphones, safety glasses
- Some sort of welding gear to attach the handle to the brand, or a high temp bonding agent of some sort

First thing to do is make up your design
- Some things to know - A design with straight lines is easier to carve than one with lots of curves (not that it stopped me)
- You need to remember to MIRROR your design! Or else your brand will always be backward!
- The smaller the detail, the harder it is - again, didn't really deter me but just FYI

Choose your metal stock
- You need the metal you use to be thick enough so that you wont cut through, but not so thick as to be tough to heat
- The handle should be generously long - you don't want a brand on you!

Once you've bought or scavenged everything, time to get started... 

Step 2: Transfer the Design

Okay, now that you have your design - mirrored, right?
Print it out, and cut it out - give some extra on the sides, but not a lot

Next, cut a piece of metal off the stock plate that is larger than the design, but again not by much. About the size of the paper.
I cut my metal much too large, and had to trim off the excess later - Wasted effort (1/4' plate takes a lot of cutting)

To transfer the image to the plate, I filled in the backside of the paper with a soft pencil - graphite paper would be easier, but I didn't have any so I did the poor mans transfer.

Tape the paper down to the metal, then use a pen to press down everywhere across the design, transferring the graphite to the metal.
You'll get a faint image of everything, then I went over it with a sharpie to make it easier to see and more permanent.

Time to start cutting!

Step 3: Cutting Out the Design

Mount up the plate on your vise nice and tight - you definitely want it to stay still.
Also, the more light you can get on it the better, I had two lamps pointed at it

Suit up with your safety gear - I used headphones, its a lot nicer to listen to music than just here a dull whir
Please do use some form of ear and eye protection, its loud and there will be little bits of metal flying everywhere

Some thoughts on using the carbide cutting bits:
- Tungsten Carbide bits are awesome! They cut very well and have a pretty long life if used properly, but they are a little $$ - about $7-8 per bit
- Use a high speed, if you go too slow the bit will catch and buck, and you might cut something you don't want to. 
- Don't press to hard - but keep a firm grip - I tended to use 2 hands most of the time, to have maximum control

Now that you're ready to go:
- Start by roughly outlining the shape of everything, except maybe very fine details, just to get a feel for how the bit cuts into the metal.
- Scratch or mark out the main outer dimensions of the brand - I obviously had a much larger piece of metal than I needed, so I planned on cutting the excess off - So no need to grind there
- Once you'e got a rough outline, I nibbled my way in from the outline to the edge of each shape - Take your time!
- I left the small numbers that would be the toughest for last, and cut up to all the edges of the big guys
- I switched to the fine point bit and very slowly etched away at the numbers in the date, just taking a little at a time

Some other tips:
- For long, straight line: you can use a thing cutting disk, it will be much faster and easier to make a long cut
- Don't try to dig in deep straight away - go layer by layer, it will preserve your bit and actually be quicker

Once I thought it was ready for a test run (took about 2 hours of cutting/grinding) I cut away the excess.
Now time for the handle!

Step 4: Attach the Handle

To weld on the handle, first cut the length you want from the metal rod - be generous, the end is gonna be hot so you want to be far away from it!

Use sandpaper or a grinding head on your Dremel to sand down the end and about 3/4" up the rod so its clean and shiny.
Sand and inch or so square on the backside of the brand - this is important to having a strong weld

I used a welding magnet to hold the handle in place while I welded it to the brand.
I used my flux-core wire feed welder to make a solid weld on each side of the handle, and that seemed nice and sturdy

If you're using a hollow handle:  make sure you 'aim' your weld more at the brand plate - its a lot thicker and will take longer to heat up, if you go right at the joint or the pipe you'll melt through before the plate is hot enough to fuse.

Once its firmly attached, clean up the weld with a metal brush or your grinder
I may wrap the end of the handle in cloth to insulate, for now I just wore a welding glove while I used it.

Then test that thing out!
I didn't have a propane torch, which would be ideal, so I used my stove - took a while to heat it up sufficiently.
You may need to go back and grind out more material if you see that the design isn't clear or the background is contacting the wood.
Also, how much pressure you put on the brand while in use and hold long you hold it in place will affect how the brand looks - take some practice runs before you do anything irreversible.

But other than that, enjoy your woodburning masterpiece!

I did this over a weekend, it took about 4 hours total time.
<p>Me and my friends</p>
<p>Hey mate, Nice work with this tutorial. I've followed every step and end up with a good result. I haven't tested branding a wood yet 'cause I couldn't reach a good temperature to burn it on the wood. Thanks for sharing.</p>
<p>Hey, so I'd like to do this with the attached design (I'm currently doing it with a paper transfer process, which works well but is pretty time-consuming.) Couple questions:</p><p>1. Would a brand have a good enough resolution to get this design on a coaster? I'd really like the QR code to still be able to scan.</p><p>2. I'm thinking it's too detailed to make this by hand - I'll probably contract someone to make the brand (there's a local makerspace with a CNC router who could probably do it.) Do you agree with this assessment? </p><p>Thanks,</p><p>Xave</p>
<p>Sorry I didn't respond earlier, I hadn't checked in in a while. For that kind of detail a CNC would definitely serve you better, but I don't think even if you had a perfect brand it would work well, at least consistently. When it burns in the burn will most likely 'bleed' a little bit, which would render it unreadable. If you were able to very tightly control temperature on the brand and had a very consistent, tight wood grain then it might be possible, but still difficult.</p><p>Hope that helps!</p>
<p>Thanks very much! I appreciate the feedback.</p>
<p>Would it be possible to laser cut a woodburning brand like this?</p><p>Anyone any experience with that?</p>
You'd need a massive laser to really cut into thick steel, so I would say its not really feasible. You could probably etch the design on steel with one then manually remove the material.
<p>Alright, thanks for the advice!</p>
<p>I am thinking about wood coasters for our wedding favors and branding them, similar to what you did. Once you had the brand made, how long did it take you to brand the 200 pcs? Did you have to reheat between each piece?</p>
<p>I make a charcoal fire in a grill to heat the brand, and usually got about 2-3 burns per heat. To make around 200 pieces (that's also how many I did) I think to took around and hour maybe 1.5 hours. Make sure that if you are cutting your own wood, that you dry it out well beforehand - if it still has moisture it will greatly reduce how well the burn works. And if you are drying them, make sure you weigh them down under a flat board to prevent warping. If you have any other questions feel free to ask!</p>
<p>This tutorial was great! A total money saver and a lot of fun. There were a few things that I did differently, but I couldn't have made my wood brand without this tutorial. Thanks a ton!</p><p>(My brand is about 2&quot; x 3&quot;)</p><p>My Changes:</p><p>I reversed my image on the computer, printed it, cut it out, and glued it onto the metal. I couldn't make the graphite transfer work, but this was perfect. I used regular copy paper and a very thin layer of regular Elmer's glue. </p><p>I used a Dremel engraving bit, a teeny tiny round one, to outline the design and just barely scratch the metal below. I was using a rusty old hunk of steel that was pretty tarnished, so I could lightly score the design into the rust. Then, once the design was one, I scrubbed off the paper.</p><p>I had purchased a set of cheap tungsten carbide bits for my Dremel off of Amazon. It was thirteen bucks and it was a huge lifesaver. They were infinitely better than any of the diamond bits I've used from Dremel and, despite being abused for this, every one of the ones I used is still in working order. </p><p> Anyway, I ground around the design with a ball-tipped bit and then used a variety of bits to eat away at the rest of the blank space surrounding the Bee. Without the set I bought, this wouldn't have worked, because of my unsteady hand and the odd little shapes in my design. </p><p>After I had everything done and I'd tested the brand to satisfaction, I cleaned it up and used some jeweler's polishing compounds to, well, polish the whole thing. This isn't necessary, but I think the finished piece looks more professional even with the tarnish, once it has been polished. </p>
<p>Again, thanks to jonathon.ewell for an awesome Instructable! I spent twenty bucks on supplies, instead of eighty on a manufactured brand, and I was able to do it myself! </p>
<p>very nice! I wonder if something like J B Weld would work to hold the handle to the brand, will have to try it and see. Thanks! </p>
<p>Depending on the flavor of JB Weld you use, it looks like temperate ratings range from 300-500 or so degrees Fahrenheit. If you're using a torch you'll get a lot hotter than that, and in general I think repeated heating/cooling would end up separating the bond. There may be some other high temp bonding agents out there however.</p>
<p>I am IMPRESSED! Here's a few things which I really liked about your instructions...First, your easy going delivery didn't discourage a novice like me... Second, you took time to stress safety which is often just mentioned...Third, you are polite and positive; you didn't come off as a KIA (Know It All)...And finally, the tone of our replies shows you to be very approachable without the person inquiring left feeling like a dummy. Thank you!</p>
<p>Thanks! I definitely want anything I post to be helpful, I've had (and continue to have) lots of people help me learn, so I want to pass it on. Best of luck in your building endeavours! </p>
Nice 'ible Johnathan! I'm a woodworker and would like to make one of these for branding my projects &amp; have a couple questions. Could this be done with aluminum? Would it take the heat and hold its form? I think it would be much easier to cut the pattern into and I have the stock, tools etc. Thanks. <br>..Jon..
<p><strong>I actually just posted a full tutorial on how to do just that!</strong></p><p><a href="http://lawsoncycles.com/how-to-make-a-wood-brand-aluminum-part-1/" rel="nofollow">http://lawsoncycles.com/how-to-make-a-wood-brand-a...</a></p><p><strong>Using aluminum as your branding material actually works very well, in addition to being much easier to shape.</strong></p><p><strong><br></strong></p>
Hmmm, aluminum would definitely be easier to cut or mill, but I think it would deform over long term heating/cooling cycles. By all means give it a whirl, if you use aluminum you'll probably want a relatively thick block, maybe an inch or so thick, and you'll need to make a threaded handle or something (unless you have a TIG welder and can do aluminum, in which case props to you). <br>Hopefully that helps!
Really awesome idea. Thanks for sharing :)
Well done! <br> <br>To help with the mirror image, I use Microsoft Word or a copier that has a setting to make reversed images.
I use GIMP (open source image editor) to do a lot of stuff, its super easy to flip or rotate images in that too!
My wedding ring is part tattoo, part branding :D
Wow, a wedding brand.<br><br>I only bought my wife a ring...

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Bio: I'm an IT professional in Philadelphia - but thats just my day job. I love to repurpose things, and since I grew up not having ... More »
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