Woodworking branding iron

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  • Bill in Buena Park
    Thanks Loring, that's interesting data on heat-up time. I own one of these as well, and usually use a trial about the 10 minute mark on a scrap similar to the workpiece to see if its ready. You're absolutely right on the "no re-dos", there's no way to get perfectly realigned for a second try without getting a ghost image.

    I use mine for most pieces except turnings, which I now laser engrave - and add my signature (or initials) and date for the "personal" aspect.

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    FWIW, I wanted to get a better handle on the temperatures it took to get a quality burned impression.

    The image below was a series I took with the temperature marked (using an IR thermometer that went to 752 F)
    The leftmost impression was after the iron was on for the recommended 15 minutes. The second and third was as it cooled down - it rapidly went to unusable.
    I plugged it back in and took some impressions as it heated up again (the last four.as it heated to over 652 .
    Each impression was for 15 seconds with a slight rocking as recommended by the instructions.

    Clearly the result is you need more than 600 F and 650 F starts to char all around (but as the instructions say you can sand it lightly to remove the background charring. The one on the right will, in my experience, clean up nicely with a light sanding to remove the slight overburn.

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    One more thing I found odd was that I measured all these temperatures were measured on the barrel right behind the branding plate
    where I assumed the heater was and that the plate would be the same temperature. What I found was that the face of the branding
    plate was much cooler as shown by the blue line. The letters are the time and temperature points where the test impressions
    were taken, left to right.. Note that I unplugged it at about 17-1/2 minutes and plugged it back in at about 23 minutes to heat it back up.

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    Click image for larger version  Name:	Branding iron.JPG Views:	0 Size:	30.8 KB ID:	840454
    Found on the internet "The initial process of wood burning is at 160-260 degrees Celsius (320-500 degrees Fahrenheit). Irreversible changes begin to appear in the wood, ending with fire. The ignition temperature of the wood varies between 200-250 degrees Celsius (392-482 degrees Fahrenheit).Mar 15, 2020"
    So its likely the blue temperatures were really making the burned impressions; yet I am surprised by the difference in temperature (BTW it was 96 F degrees in the shop that evening - why it starts at nearly 100 F.) The temperatures read off the heater barrel (red line) were more stable to read.
    The picture of the iron above has a red and blue arrow showing where the temperatures were measured.

    The point of all of this is so I can use my IR thermometer to determine when its optimal to make the impression instead of guessing based on time.
    Last edited by LCHIEN; 08-30-2020, 10:35 AM.

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  • GrumpyDad

    Class act. Also as the years pass your grandchildren will cherish the mark. Very nice

    Harumpf I say!

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    And this is my pawn shop storage case. Got a cheap eBay dedicated timer so I don't have to hunt one up each time.

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    Last edited by LCHIEN; 08-04-2020, 03:48 AM.

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    Originally posted by leehljp
    I like the last one that is attached with brass nails.
    Yes, the plate method saves time and eliminates lots of risks of screwing up which are many as I pointed out.
    Downsides are the wood might not match and it looks a little less like part of the original, a bit of an afterthought.

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  • leehljp
    I like the last one that is attached with brass nails.

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  • capncarl
    I have a very simular branding iron from Rockler, it have a saw or something. I was branding all of my Tiny Tables, Tiny Trees and Tiny Mushrooms that went into the art galleries to be sold but I recieved numerous comments about it making it look more like “production” work, like you would get from an Amish furniture store, rather than a one of a kind artisan piece. Now I use my branding iron for gifts and customer pieces for family. The rest of my work I Autogrqph and put the wood type using a fine point paint pin.


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    started a topic Woodworking branding iron

    Woodworking branding iron

    Hank remarked on my branding iron. I've had it for years, Got it from Rockler, its the electric one, at one time they sold one that was heated with a torch.

    It certainly makes a distinctive addition to any piece.

    My comments on using it:
    • It takes about 15 minutes to warm up to a good temperature. A long time for an impatient guy like me.
    • It takes about 15 minutes to cool off to put away after using it
    • There's no thermostat or anything - I'm a bit worried about accidentally leaving it on - either self-damage or fire risk.
    • I bought a $5 mechanical kitchen timer to put in the box to keep track of time while I'm doing other stuff in the shop else I'll forget. Now that my shop has a home assistant (Alexa or Hey Google) I can just set a timer by voice command.
    • therefore plan on needing at least half an hour time and having other things to do while waiting.
    • It is a bit tricky to get a good impression, it depends on time usually 5-10 seconds or so and you need to rock it top to bottom to get an even impression.
    • Appearance Depends on the wood type and texture and time pressure is applied.
    • Its so easy to screw up an important piece, its scary - good thing to practice on a similar piece of scrap before every one.
    • Sometimes its safer and more time efficient to make small thin plates en masse and then affix them to the piece with brass nails or screws.That way if you screw up you don't lose so much
    • I sometimes use a punch to add the date/year
    • Handle gets a bit warm and the heat rises
    • Hard to get centered and level - I'll clamp a piece of scrap as a guide, make it level and mark the center of it. It gets burned of course from being right next to the base of the brand
    • Re-dos are impossible
    • It comes with a small bent sheet metal stand for protecting the bench while it is heating.
    • If you over-burn it, it can be saved by some sanding.
    So anyway that's the pros and cons.

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    Last edited by LCHIEN; 12-29-2021, 05:59 PM.