How to Use a Branding Iron

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About: I love making all kinds of things, with a bent toward woodworking. I do projects for clients, improvements around the house and even some furniture pieces. Follow along!

This branding iron from Cranford Design Works is a great addition to my shop. This kit allowed me to turn the handle on my own. In this video, I show how to use a branding iron and answer a few questions you might have about them.

Step 1: BACKGROUND

I have always liked branding irons. I've seen people mark their work with them, and have always wanted that for myself. A quality branding iron can be costly, but they can last a lifetime if cared for properly. And they can leaving a lasting impression on your pieces that will not easily be removed.

Step 2: TOOLS & MATERIALS

Cranford Design Works Branding Iron Kit - t.co/fw0rpgFlTy

Table saw - http://amzn.to/2GcfFcI

Lathe - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

Carbide turning tools - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

4-jaw chuck - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

Drill chuck - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

Pull saw - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

Sandpaper - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

5 Minute Epoxy - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

Lacquer - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

Random orbit sander - http://amzn.to/2u2QYdK

Step 3: HANDLE

I have always liked branding irons. I've seen people mark their work with them, and have always wanted that for myself. A quality branding iron can be costly, but they can last a lifetime if cared for properly. And they can leaving a lasting impression on your pieces that will not easily be removed.

The kit I have came with a maple turning blank, a short steel rod, a long steel rod, a brass ferrule and the head of the branding iron itself.


First, I marked for center on the turning blank for the handle. Then, I took it to the table saw to rip off the sharp corners. This helps it to turn more easily.

Step 4: TURNING

Next, I chucked one end up into the 4-jaw chuck on the lathe. I did this loosely, and brought the tailstock with the live center up to the blank tightly. Then, I secured the blank firmly into the chuck.

I wasn't going for any crazy shape, but just a general shape that is a bit more rounded at the back of the handle than I have done in the past. I saw an example from Cranford Design Work and liked how it looked, so I attempted to make mine look the same. Once I got the blank mostly round, I measured the size of the ferrule, and turned down the part of the blank to accept the ferrule. It is much easier to do the finish shaping of the handle after the ferrule is already on the piece.

Step 5: ADD FERRULE

I used some 80 grit sandpaper to scuff up the inside of the ferrule. The idea is that this gives the epoxy a bit more of a bite and it can hold even better. Once the wood blank has been turned down enough to accept the ferrule, mix up a little 5-minute epoxy. Add it to the work piece and to the inside of the ferrule. Then, slowly rotate it onto the work piece. Be sure to have a paper towel handy for any of the epoxy that squeezes out.

Step 6: SANDING & FINISHING

Now, it is time to finish shaping the handle.

After I've sanded everything starting at 150 grit and going all the way up to 600, I applied the finish to the handle. I just used a can of spray lacquer that I had, and I probably put on about 6 or 7 really light coats.

Step 7: DRILL HOLE

Then, I moved the tailstock back and put in the drill chuck with a 3/8" spade bit. I did some tests before I drilled into my finished piece and found that one particular brand of drill bit was a really nice fit for the steel rod. It was a tight enough vacuum fit that when I pulled it back out, it made a pop like a cork! It is recommended that you drill about half of the distance of the handle. I did a little less than this, just because I wanted a longer overall tool.

Step 8: ADD STEEL ROD

At this point, the wood blank could be removed from the lathe chuck. I left the tenon on it so that I could use that to stand this piece up in a clamp to accept the steel rod. I clamped the piece vertically, mixed up some more epoxy and put it into the hole and on the rod itself. Don't forget to scuff the rod again for that grabbing power, but don't scuff it too high...you don't want to mess up the look! I set the rod into the hole, wiping off any of the epoxy that squeezed out. Then, I left it overnight to cure fully.

Step 9: ASSEMBLE

After the epoxy was fully cured, all that was left was to assemble everything. The steel rod just fits into the recess on the head of the branding iron. Then, using the embedded set screw, I secured the rod tightly.

Then, it was time to brand everything! I tried it out on a variety of soft and hard woods, leather and even cardboard. The cardboard was one that Cranford Design Works told me about. I'm not sure I would have even thought of it. In fact, when they shipped the kits to me, two sides of the boxes were branded with their logo, and i thought it was a really nice touch.

Step 10: CONCLUSION

Overall, this was a fun project to turn this handle and learn all about branding irons. This kit I got was the right mix of DIY, precision and fun! Let me know below if you have any questions, and if you haven't already, go watch the video. Thanks for following along with this project!

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    8 Discussions

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    aCuriousCreator

    7 months ago

    Looks really nice! Thanks for sharing. Out of interest, what does the ferrule actually do? Are they just aesthetic, or there to add support?

    7 replies
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    BruceaulrichYonatan24

    Reply 7 months ago

    I've never had it happen, but I have heard of it happening before. ha. I was wondering if it still held true in this case, where it is not a super tight friction fit, but rather using epoxy to hold in the rod?

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    Yonatan24Bruceaulrich

    Reply 7 months ago

    I don't think it matters, you aren't hammering onto it and there's nothing that would make the wood split....

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    BruceaulrichYonatan24

    Reply 7 months ago

    I see. I've heard your name on the Creator's Collective podcast...you get a lot of your questions read on there. Cool to see you here!

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    Yonatan24Bruceaulrich

    Reply 7 months ago

    Been here way before I even heard of something called a podcast. I think I remember you commenting on a few of my I'bles in the past, and have I heard your name before in one of Jimmy Diresta's vlogs or on Making it once?

    :)

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    BruceaulrichYonatan24

    Reply 7 months ago

    I don't know that I've been mentioned on Making it podcast, but I was in one of Jimmy Diresta's vlogs a few weeks back. We were at Workbench Conference and I was at dinner with he and some others. That was fun. Yeah, you have a ton of instructables!

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    BruceaulrichaCuriousCreator

    Reply 7 months ago

    I think they do add something to the look of the piece, but I believe they help hold the fibers of that area so that when you insert the rod in, it doesn't blow out. This would not really be the case for mine, since the rod was slightly undersized and I used epoxy. I believe with older tools, you would just try for a friction fit, so you would make whatever you're inserting a little bigger than the hole/slot, so that it would wedge in there really well. In that case, the ferrule would really hole the wood from blowing out or tearing.