Making Your Own Branding Iron

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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!

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

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

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

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

Tear into the package and retrieve your brand!

Step 5: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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!

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46 Comments

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.

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

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!

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.

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

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.