Branding Nails




About: I make and create anything that comes to my mind from skateboard hooks to garden rooms. And I footle around with electronics and instruments at night....and I have a passion for reducing waste packaging by m...

A great little project to make some tiny branding irons out of wire nails...

Step 1: Get Your Bits Together


Wire nails - I used 125mm wire nails that have a head of about 10mm diameter

Block of wood - for the handle

Sticky backed vinyl sheet

Propane gas


Etching tool - you will need to make your own, easy to do

Salt water solution



Sharp knife

Rotary tool + grinding wheel

Step 2: Hammer

Hammer the nail into the end of a block of wood...

...this will make it easy to hold the nail to work on the end

Step 3: File

File the nail head flat ready for etching

Step 4: Stencil

Cut out your design from a sheet of sticky backed will be tiny!

Remember to reverse the design especially for text and with all printing it has to be reversed so it will be the correct way when burnt into the wood

Firmly stick the stencil to the nail head

Step 5: Etch

You will need to make an etching tool...check out my Metal Etching video or have a look at Laserage's Instructable on how to etch with a battery.

Attach the etching tool

Plug in the transformer

Pour out some salt water solution...

...and dip the cotton wall on the end of the etching nail into the solution.

Press the tool onto the end of the nail head and hear it sizzle...etching is taking place.

Fumes are produced...PLEASE make sure you undertake this in a SAFE well ventilated place and do not breath in the fumes.

Step 6: Clean Up

It will take around ten minutes to produce a good deep etch and a nicely defined edge to your stencil.

A crud will have formed on the end...scrape away with a knife to reveal your design

Step 7: Grind

Cut away the excess metal around your design...

...this is too enable the brand to be as clean as possible without metal to the side scorching around the brand.

Take it slowly with a steady hand so the etched edge isn't nicked by the grinding wheel.

A rotary tool and small grinding/cut off wheel works really well...a hand file should do the job as well.

Step 8: Handle

Cut the wooden block to a convenient length as a handle...

...plane...cut...sand to a nice finish that feels good in your hand.

Step 9: Burn

All ready to brand some timber...

Heat the end of the branding nail with a propane torch.

It will take a little practice to work out how hot you will need it...grab a scrap piece of wood and do some practice runs.

Place on the timber for a couple seconds...

...pull away...


Step 10: Brand Your Branding Nail!

Why not brand your own branding nail!

It makes sense so that you can easily see the design of the tool...especially that you will want to make lots of them.

Remove the nail from the wood...

Heat up the nail head as those fingers as you do not now have a nice timber handle to insulate from the heat!

Brand the handle...

...Carefully tap the nail back into the handle.

Step 11: Looking Good!

Step 12: ENJOY!

These are super useful and so small...perfect for branding little things!

I am entering this project into the Pocket Sized Contest as they are pocket sized! and if you have enjoyed this project, I would really appreciate your vote...thank you so much.

This project is part of my YouTube channel where I try to make cool and interesting projects.

Please check out my channel if you want to see more of the projects, if not there will be more coming to Instructables soon.

Why not check out what I am up to on Facebook.

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    35 Discussions

    Fikjast Scott

    6 months ago on Step 12

    wow you really did a great job, the etching takes this project up a notch.


    7 months ago

    Very nice tutorial !! And congrats for the win! :)


    7 months ago

    Thank you all so much for voting me into the finals...super happy


    8 months ago

    fantastic! I am now set for some gifts for some of my Texan neighbors and family. Wow.

    Thank you very much.


    1 reply

    8 months ago

    Very neat! How do you keep from burning in too deep, causing a circle from the nail head?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    Grind away as much as possible for the outside of the shape will help, then practice on scrap piece of wood to work out best heat to the mail head and length of time held on timber for the brand.
    Due to the tiny size of the branding iron there is a tendency of scorching though excellent results are easily achieved.
    Give it a go!


    Reply 8 months ago

    Intricate logos are possible, I made one of my logo, just had to make sure it had a really deep etch to make the edges clean. Then some practice in hearing and length of time e branding to get a good brand. Thanks for your kind words.


    8 months ago

    I never would have thought to use a nail head for a branding iron, but it's perfect for small logos! Great instructable, thanks for sharing.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    Thanks Makerneer...they are great for branding little things or a discreet mark on larger projects.


    8 months ago

    Great idea.
    IMHO it can be combined with a laser toner transfer (that used for homemade PCB's) - that may be good to make something complicate. Like a logo. Of course, fine elements will be "smoothed" during the etching, but it may bring some improvement.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    Good idea, i am sure that would work...i haven't ever tried it, I must look it up. Thanks


    8 months ago

    Ohhh maaaannnnn!!! this is one of the coolest and most innovative ideas i have seen. i wondered how you would cut the patterns into the nail head. etching it did not come to mind. thanks for sharing.

    1 reply

    8 months ago

    I love this idea, thanks for posting!

    I'm experimenting with making batik stamps, maybe I could try to use this technique for this purpose as well, so you've inspired me with this project.

    I alsolike pyrography by the way, so I could use these in a woodburning project as well.

    1 reply