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Making DIY projects is so much fun and rewarding especially when you can’t stop looking at your beautiful work after. There are times that the project is so perfect we want to put our signature on it.
If you are like me who loves making beautiful things out of wood (or leather for some), then you will love this branding iron project. A year ago I made a box for my shirt business which was perfect, except for the name on it. Since I didn’t want to spend anymore for spray paint just for that small detail I used markers. It was ugly. 🙁
Though “real” branding irons can be custom-ordered, some might not be up for spending quite a big amount of money for it – like me. Which is why I got excited when I came across this DIY project. Read on to see how earz_cd made his cool branding iron!
- Spray Adhesive
- Brass Cabinet Knob
- Dremel Style Tool with small carving/engraving bits
- Locking Pliers
- Computer and Printer
- Scissors, Utility Knife, X-acto Knife, etc
- Source of heat (camp fire, stove burner, propane torch)
I wanted a fairly small brand with my initials. I laid it out on the computer using a photo editing software. I made a mirror image of my design and printed it out.
I found this little brass knob in the clearance bin at the hardware store. I wasn’t sure if it was solid brass or just brass plated, but I bought it because it was flat and round. It also had some threads cut into one end so I can eventually mount this on the end of a handle.
The flat end was slightly rounded, and to get an even brand mark, the brand needs to be perfectly flat. I used a flat file and flattened the top surface of the brass.
I flipped my paper template face down and placed the brass piece on top, marking around the brass. I then used a spray adhesive and glued the brass to the template. I cut around the template leaving a little extra length and just folded the excess around the brass. I clamped the brass in a vise and used a dremel with a flex shaft to engrave out all the white sections of the template.
I used a pointed cutter and a round cutter.
Go slow because once you remove material, it’s really hard to add it back.
This photo shows how deep I engraved it before the first burn test.
To test it out, I just clamped it in some vise-grips.
I used my propane torch to heat it up and tested it out on some scrap pine. You’ll have to practice getting the iron hot enough and putting the iron onto the piece evenly to get a good burn.
Here’s a breakdown of the first attempts:
- Not hot enough
- Uneven pressure
- Really uneven pressure & too hot/left on too long
- Slightly uneven
- Great burn – but the brand needs deeper cuts
I let the brand cool down and clamped it back in the vise and made deeper cuts through out. In the process, I also ended up making the letters narrower that I had originally wanted, but it still looks ok.
I tested the finished brand out on a scrap of oak flooring. The smoke from burning stains the surrounding wood on some of the darker burns. This staining can be removed by gently sanding it off with some sandpaper. Don’t sand too aggressively because you could end up sanding off your brand.
All said and done – design to final burn took me about 3 hours working at a leisurely pace. If someone would clean my garage so I could find my tools, these projects would probably take less time.
Now with just a relatively inexpensive door knob and a maximum of three hours, you can now beautifully “sign” your wood and leather projects! I can’t wait to have my DIY branding iron. How about you?