Introduction: Making Your Own Branding Iron

The video link, in case it doesn't show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yo6hWKTo-g


What is more awesome than burning your mark into something? Not much, I can tell you that! Watch the video and follow this instructable for instructions on how to make your own custom branding iron.

Materials

  • Wood
  • Steel rod
  • Threaded insert
  • Varnish

Tools

  • Wood and metal lathe
  • Bandsaw Drill press
  • Pliers
  • Sand paper/files
  • Threading die
  • Blowtorch


Let's go!

Step 1: Caution!

Picture of Caution!

But first!

You're going to be dealing with hot metal, needless to say the chance of bodily harm is high. I know it's tempting to check how warm the iron is with various body parts, but do yourself a favor and be safe.

Basically, if you're going to be an idiot, don't come here complaining!

Now, let's go!

Step 2: Making the Brand

Picture of Making the Brand

So, for anyone who thought we were going to grind our brand from metal, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. Instead, start up your CAD program and model up the brand you want. In this example, we're using the Switch & Lever logotype.

Extrude the logo a few millimeters out and add a backplate to the logo. If you're going to be making a brand with many individual parts, such as text, the backplate holds it all together and provides a rear surface for further fixtures.

In the back extrude a cylinder 6mm in diameter and about 10mm in length.

If your brand contains several parts, attach them together with a small bridge as seen in the last photo. You'll see why in the next step.


Caution!


Remember to make your brand mirrored so the mark it leaves in the end will be the right way around!

Step 3: Order the Brand

Picture of Order the Brand

We're going to be using an online service called Shapeways to get our brand 3d printed, directly in stainless steel.

Remember the bridge from the previous step? The bridge will ensure that Shapeways sees your brand as one solid piece, instead of multiple, and will save you a bit of money in the end as Shapeways charges a fixed fee for every individual part.

Once at Shapeways make sure you read through the material guidelines for stainless steel and make sure that your model fits within the guidelines.

When you're sure that everything is okay, hit upload and wait as Shapeways automatically checks your file. If it passes, do a manual check to make sure everything looks like you expect before you order your brand in stainless steel.

Finally, all you need to do is wait, and wait, and wait, until finally Shapeways ships your brand!

Step 4: Receive the Brand

Picture of Receive the Brand

It's here! It's here! Finally it's here!

Tear into the package and retrieve your brand!

Step 5: Clean Up the Print

Picture of Clean Up the Print

Once you have the printed brand you're going to have to clean it up a bit.

Start by snapping off the bridge with a pair of sturdy pliers. Then just sand down the little stub that remains and give the cylinder a slight chamfer all the way around.

Step 6: Threading the Cylinder

Picture of Threading the Cylinder

Since we're going to need to attach the branding iron to something, unless you fancy holding hot metal in your hands when branding, we're going to cut threads on the cylinder in the back.

The metal is incredibly hard, so to thread it by hand we're going to need a bit of help. Hold the brand lightly in a vice and put it in the drill press. We're not actually going to run the drill, but rather use the chuck to hold downward pressure on the threading die while turning the handle. Grab the apropriate threading die, in this case M6, fit it in the handle and thread slowly, keeping constant downward pressure. Once you're a couple of turns in the die should guide itself down.

Step 7: Making the Branding Iron Handle

Picture of Making the Branding Iron Handle

You can make the handle a number of different ways. For this branding iron we're chucking a piece of oak up in the wood turning lathe and turning a simple handle. You don't have to do anything fancy, but of course if you are comfortable with the lathe the sky is the limit. Knock yourself out!

If you don't have a lathe, don't sweat it, just use whatever tools you have at hand to shape a handle.

Step 8: Fitting a Threaded Insert

Picture of Fitting a Threaded Insert

Drill a recess down in the end of the handle and fit a threaded insert into it, which should match the thread you cut on the metal band. Adding a bit of epoxy to the threaded insert before pressing it in will ensure that it will never come out.

If you don't have a hydraulic press, you can press it down with a drill press, or even carefully tap it in with a rubber or plastic hammer.

Step 9: Finishing the Handle

Picture of Finishing the Handle

Once the epoxy cures, cut off the base, sand down he handle and give it a good coat of varnish to protect it.

Good job, you're done!

Step 10: Extending the Handle

Picture of Extending the Handle

Unfortunately, if we would screw the branding iron directly into the handle we would likely set fire to the handle with the blowtorch when heating up the brand, and our hands would be caught in the cross fire.

For this reason take some rod stock and drill a hole on one end and thread it to match the thread on the branding iron. Flip it around and cut a male thread on the other end fitting the threaded insert in the handle. Now the branding iron sits on a respectable distance away from the handle and bodily harm.

Step 11: Assembling the Branding Iron

Picture of Assembling the Branding Iron

Now that we have all parts all you need to do is screw them together. If you've done everything correctly it should fit together without issues!

Step 12: Improving the Quality

Picture of Improving the Quality

One final step which can improve the quality of your brand is to lightly sand the branding surface against a flat surface. Since the 3d printed metal is a bit rough smoothing it out will aid in heat transfer to the material you're branding, and thus neater brands.

Step 13: BRANDING!

Picture of BRANDING!

We're finally there, you get to try out your brand!

Grab a blowtorch and heat up the brand. You're going to have to experiment a bit with how hot you want to get your brand, how long to keep it in contact with the material, etc. Different materials will react differently to the heat. For instance, the leather in the picture contracted a fair bit, requiring wetting and smoothing out to regain its shape.

Have fun with it!

Step 14: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Now go out and mark the world!

If you like what you've seen, do subscribe here and on YouTube for more stuff to come from Switch & Lever!

Thank you, and see you next time!

Comments

RickR124 (author)2017-04-18

I followed this to make a branding iron, except I added the threads to the post in the CAD software, and they didn't come out very well. The threads came out all messed up. Too file a detail for the printing or infusion process, I guess. I will try to fix them with a die cutter. Thanks for the great instructable.

Tymkrs (author)2015-05-31

Great idea! This inspired us to make a branding iron with a waterjet one of our hackerspace members wanted to play with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbCJf4IblDg - starts at 21:41

freymond-gaudry (author)2015-04-29

hey cool stuff, but when I upload my model it would cost me more than 100€!

The cost of the print depends on a number of factors, such as size, volume, and the space it would take in the 3d printer. If you want it cheaper your options are to make it smaller, or remove unnecessary geometry. For instance, if you have big objects, you may be able to hollow them out, and thereby use less material, and get the price down. Shapeways has some guides on their site on what to think about when modeling for print.

okay thanks! I'll re work my model. It seems too to increase the price each time I upload a new model with mods, about 10$ more each time! is it a bug??

Probably not, but I'm not really qualified to say as I don't work for Shapeways, so I don't know what goes on in their systems. Look for correlations between price increase, volume and size though.

yes , you seemed to well know this service, and to contact them, you have to buy before! thanks for your answers, again good job!

livichris made it! (author)2015-04-03

made one of these... ordered yesterday... can't wait for it to arrive

That looks really cool! Please do post when you receive it and start using it. Would love to see how it looks branded!

definitely will, how long did yours take to arrive?

About a month or so. It really depends on how much of a backlog they have, how quickly they can get to your order. So it may be faster, it may be longer. Though, I believe they give an estimate on the site how long it will take.

arrived yesterday, took a little time to flatten the surface but not bad for a few attempts

No, hey, that's very cool! Maybe just needs a bit more heat, but I'm sure that's easily dialed in! Thanks for sharing it!

22-24th April according to the order. Thanks for posting this, I can't wait!

livichris (author)livichris2015-04-03

Sorry, just read the silly comments below which seemed to start around someone being pedantic about the use of the word "make" and it then descending into a disrespectful tit for tat between people who need to lighten up. So to avoid misleading anyone, I'd like to change my first post to "made the model myself yesterday but asked someone else to make it, but not by themselves, with an automated machine"

RedBinary (author)2015-03-01

This is pretty neat and I'm happy to learn of Shapeways, but I think there are some design considerations that could improve this. Firstly I believe that brands as used in maker's marks for wood are usually made out of a metal with better heat transfer characteristics such as copper and aluminum. They also typically have a slightly convex face to aid in transfer of pressure and heat into to wood.

You don't mention how much you paid for the parts from Shapeways, but there are brand making companies online that would provide the exact same service. You send them your 2D art and they ship you a brand, handle and all. For $50-$80 USD you get a brand that you heat up with a torch as you do here. For $150-$200 you get one with an electric heater built in.

RicardoT1 (author)RedBinary2015-03-01

Hi! Can you mention the companies? I really appreciate the help.

RedBinary (author)RicardoT12015-03-31

I'm not sure if you're asking me or the author. If me, the only one I have bookmarked is branding-irons.biz although I have not made a purchase yet.

If you watch the video it's mentioned how much the print cost. You could order it in brass as well from Shapeways, but the cost is roughly 1.5 times higher. It's an interesting point you make about the heat transfer properties, though I haven't really had any issues with the heat transfer of the steel. Making it slightly convex would (as someone commenting on the video said as well) make sense, but may require a bit more post-work to smooth out the face of the brand. This brand works great for flat surfaces, but if the surface is a bit irregular it doesn't contact as well. In this situation I could see a convex brand giving better results.

Of course you could have someone make it for you, but to me that misses the point. The joy is not entirely in the final product, but in the making of it as well.

WVvan (author)RedBinary2015-03-01

In the video it shows the Shapeways price as 27.61 Euros.

adrian.orrochys (author)2015-03-06

interesante

hornbadoing (author)2015-02-28

So its not "How to make a branding iron" its "How to pay someone to make a branding iron for you". And here i got my hopes up for a real tutorial and not just another fool pushing advertisement for a company.

"Fool pushing advertisement for a company"? Say what now? I have no affiliation with Shapeways, though I have used their services several times and I'm more than happy with their service. Should you not stand by the companies you believe in? I'm confused. Heck, if anything I wish they would support me, maybe I could get some sweet free 3d printing done then! One can always dream!

If you only believe the branding iron is the little metal part at the end and choose to ignore all the other work that went into its design and manufacturing that has to stand for you and your burnt fingers grasping onto the hot little nub. I mention Shapeways in 2 out of 14 steps, (one of which I wouldn't really call a proper step), should I have just left it out and told people to go find their own way of getting it made? Wouldn't have been much of an instructable then. Haters gonna hate I guess.

Take care dude!

I can see where he is coming from. The issue is the title, "Making Your Own Branding Iron" is quite misleading.

I would rewrite it as "Mounting a Branding Iron Head to a custom Handle.

The work show is well done. Though the title leads us to think you are going to show us how to make the head itself.

hornbadoing, Was not at all out of line in calling you on that fact. Calling you a "Fool" was out of line.

Your, "Take Care Dude!" is very disrespectful. I suggest you look at the spirit of this site. Namely their 'Be Nice' policy.

As I said if you only think that the branding iron is the little metal tip at the end you may have a point, but it's very vague. I do show how to do the branding iron tip in CAD, I talk about what to take care about when designing it, I show how to use Shapeways to get it and I show how to finish it, including threading and polishing it up. You're getting caught up on that I'm not actually producing the tip myself, while I'm making all the other parts, including the handle and the extending rod. If you choose to ignore that then I don't know what to do.

If "take care dude" is disrespectful I have to seriously look over how I end phone conversations and sign mails. I've been saying "take care" to my mom for at least a couple of decades, if not more, that may have left irreparable emotional scars!

Intentional or not the whole issue is the title is misleading.

As for all the disrespect from both parties ... IDK what to tell you.

After a response filled with sarcasm. Saying, "Take care dude!" is indeed disrespectful.

The idea of this site is to help individuals ideas grow in a constructive environment.

This conversation is not what we need.

Well played... and great work!

Take care dude! ;-)

guaps (author)hjartland2015-03-05

"Take care dude" is disrespectful, but "just another fool" isn't? Strange logic. Personally, I think he made his own branding iron. He didn't chop down the tree where he got his wood for the handle either.

hjartland (author)guaps2015-03-05

I said ... "Calling you a "Fool" was out of line."

How is that strange logic? I called them both out on violating the 'be nice' policy.

guaps (author)hornbadoing2015-03-05

Harsh critique. Did you do any research about whether he was sponsored by that company first? Seems like a reasonable step in making a branding iron to me. Not all tutorials need to source all steps from scratch. He didn't chop down the tree for the handle either...

sketchglass (author)hornbadoing2015-03-03

quit being such a hornbadoing!

this is a great instructable. I love the balance of the processes involved. just the right amount of cad, 3d printing, turning, machining, and fire!

well done switch and lever. Leever or lever?

hmiller-1 (author)2015-03-05

Mr. Switch and Level could have a career in voice over work, if he chose. He's got a good voice for it.

There's lots of instructables that require a 3-D printer these days. I don't knock him for that. I learned a company exists to help with that, since I don't have a 3-D printer handy.

I am not sure why the bridge needed to be cut though since it requires twice the work now. Maybe it makes a better branding surface? Would flattening the cylinder, punching a hole and using a cotter pin work as well as threading screws by hand? I don know.

Like any instruct able, make your own and add to why you did variants. But to cut down a doer, helps no one in the end and makes you should like a Monday Morning Quarterback with a pot belly who never did anything worth while. Just shut up and get makin.

The bridge doesn't necessarily need to be cut, it's all depending on your requirements. I wanted to be able to brand either the logo, or the text, or both, so I had to split it up. If it would be one piece I would've just extended the backplate big enough to cover both elements, and have just one cylinder in the back to attach the handle to.

Cheers!

milkdud55 (author)2015-03-03

Can you use Autodesk to design it?

Autodesk what? It's a company that makes a lot of different softwares, everything from 2d to 3d design, video editing, layout, etc. So no, I don't think you could use the company to design it, you may however be able to use one, or several, of their softwares.

mothman92 (author)2015-03-03

Well done.

I know you are catching a lot of flack over this instructable but it is a well put together concise bit of information on a very neat project. Just because other people's expectations were not inline with reality does not mean that you did not do a good job with this.

RMHayes1954 (author)2015-03-02

"Make your shop a model of innovation, frugality, and self-reliance. If you don't teach your craft to the next generation, who will?"

Thanks for the details of completing a good job. I don't know Shapeways but will check them out. BTW - for my brand I need 2 minutes with a propane torch or 4 minutes on the kitchen gas stove to get a good image on wood. Press it hard until you see a trickle of smoke, then remove before it over-burns.

omikeo (author)2015-03-02

GOOD STUFF, well done vid, thanks, mike

jdockstader (author)2015-03-01

One thing you might consider is modeling the threads into your studs used in step 6. I realize you attached your bridge to them but modeled threads are a lifesaver. You'll still need to chase them with a threading die but it'll go MUCH faster. I've done a lot of DMLS for work and the extra work on the front end is worth it.

I did indeed consider it. I figured that the two minutes it would take to cut the threads by hand would be a better use of my time than the much longer time it would take to figure out how to model them. Sure, if you have many of them to do that's a different matter, but for one off things it's definitely easier to just cut them by hand.

Raitis (author)2015-02-28

Just wanted to say that I like your work and the uptight folks commenting here are probably only exceptions.

Given the fact, that it's still step by step instructable detailing how everything was done I see no issue even if it would have sponsor links or something similar. It's not abnormal to provide value and expect something back, now or later. And to anyone who thinks, there is little value due to fancy tools used - think again. One very simple thing I get from every instructable using a tool I do not own is the knowledge, that I could do that if I had one, meaning that there's way less risk and more certainty when buying tools and expecting to make something not necessarily standard with them. The same goes for services - I would have doubts about ordering a printed metal part for use in branding iron because I wouldn't be sure if it can withstand the heat. I could go on and on, but won't. Close to none of the people you see using sophisticated tools on this site started with them. If you want to make something - you will find a way how.

jakall3 (author)Raitis2015-03-01

Ditto

Battlespeed (author)2015-02-28

This is a way to do it without needing a branding iron or having anything made for you.

Then if you want the "branded" (pyrography) touch, just use the wood burner on the image, although I don't think that look is very cool. This is an image I just did up on a piece of crummy scrap spruce after watching the video - you get great detail if you fine-sand the piece first. The wood burner was $20 or something like that.

jakall3 (author)Battlespeed2015-03-01

This isn't a comment, it is hijacking. While is admit your method has merits, it's rightful place is another instructable, not here.

You don't really need a wood burner, a clothes iron would do if you're a bit patient. This method is quite commonly used when you're home etching your own circuit boards. One method to make the toner transfer easier is to buy glossy inkjet paper to print on in the laser printer, the toner lifts easier from that.

Though, it lacks the permanent nature that the branding has, even if you clear coat it. It's more a method of transferring an image onto wood than it is branding.

starforest (author)2015-03-01

Thats very neat! One would think that some materials would not be good for branding as it would result in disaster.

WVvan (author)2015-03-01

Nice Instructable. Especially like your style in the video.

48pluskaas (author)2015-03-01

love your work :D

bricobart (author)2015-03-01

Never heard about Shapeways, but thanx for planting this idea in my mind. I slightly feel that one of these times I'm going to need some 3D-printed steel ;)

afing (author)2015-02-28

Awesome!

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