Using a branding iron is easy, but if you are reading this, the chances are that you have never used one before. As with any tool, it is important to know the basics and practice a few times to get good results.
In this blog post we will dive into the basics of branding and share a step-by-step guide about how to use a flame heated branding iron on wood.
Basics of Branding
Before testing your branding iron for the first time, it is useful to get familiar with the basics of branding. They are:
- Heating up Time: The ideal Heating up time for a flame heated branding iron depends on factors such as the size of the branding head, the materials that you are branding and the source of heat.
- Dwell Time: Dwell time refers to the time that the branding head is in contact with the surface of the item being branded. At the right temperature for your material, you should be able to make a good impression in 2-4 seconds.
- Pressure: When holding the branding iron against the surface being branded, it is very important that pressure is applied evenly and without moving the branding head to get an even impression.
3 Steps to Use a Flame Heated Branding Iron on Wood
It takes very little practice to use your branding iron. Just make sure you have a few scrap pieces of wood to test your iron on and follow these 3 simple steps to achieve the best possible results.
1. Heating the Branding Iron
What is the best way to heat a branding iron? Most people use a plumber's torch, but you can also use a gas cooktop or propane grill - anything with a clean-burning flame. Move your branding iron over the flame for around 2 minutes to allow the brand to heat up to a temperature that allows for a clear, crisp brand.
If your branding head is very large, for example if you are planning to use your branding iron in your wedding ceremony, you may need to heat it up longer. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that we recommend using branding heads with a size up to 25in². A plate bigger than that will be cumbersome to use, and it will be hard to get an even mark.
If you usually work with different types of wood, it is a good idea to have a few scraps of each type of wood to test your brand on to discover the optimal heating time. Each type of wood may require a slightly different temperature and dwell time. Practice makes perfect!
Remember to always wear a heat resistant glove when using your torch heated branding iron, as it gets very, very hot!
2. Preparing the Surface
After heating your branding iron, it will be ready to use immediately, but there are two things that you can do to make your mark perfect.
Use a piece of wood as a guide - this is particularly helpful if you want to produce identical impressions on multiple items - and spritz the wood with water or wet the area with a towel just before placing your brand over the surface.
The water makes it harder for the wood to burn, so only the surface in contact with the branding plate is going to burn, achieving a cleaner burn.
3. Making Your Mark
Now it is the time to use your new branding iron. Place your brand on the surface and exert about 5-15 pounds of pressure for 2-3 seconds to leave a clear impression. Remove the branding head and check the mark!
Remember that, unlike an electric branding iron, which maintains a consistent heat, a flame heated branding iron requires reheating after a few minutes of use since it is not connected to any power supply or heat source.
You can get the same results with a flame heated and electric iron, the difference is in their ease of use. Not sure whether an electric branding iron or a flame heated branding iron is the right choice for you? Learn more about Electric vs. Flame Heated Branding Irons.
Practice Makes Perfect
It’s easy to learn how to use a branding iron, but we recommend you always test it on each specific type of wood before using it on a project. After taking the time to craft your wood creations, you’ll want your brand to be perfect.
If you want more tips about how to use a flame heated branding iron on wood, check out this video by The Marble Mountain Craftsman.
Gearheart create the best branding irons in the USA and have hundreds of happy customers. Order your custom branding iron today!
While you’re here, you may also want to check out our Guide to Take Care of Your Branding Iron.