Trouble Shooting Tips For Branding
Decorating wooden and leather items with custom branding irons is the newest frontier in arts and crafts. People who are not part of the crafting world might not realize how much skill is required, and how some crafting tools can even be dangerous if you do not use them properly. Lifelong crafters, though, have a lifetime of stories. Every arts and crafts enthusiast who has sewn something by hand has accidentally poked her finger with a needle at least a few times. Who can forget the hot glue gun, the peril of crafting in the 80s? Everyone learned pretty quickly which parts of the glue gun you shouldn’t touch when it is in use. A harder lesson to learn, though, is how to attach the sequins to your jeans jacket without leaving strings of dried glue everywhere.
So it is with decorative branding. Branding irons are very safe to use; it just takes common sense to avoid injury. Getting the brands on your artwork to come out looking how you want them, though, requires considerable skill and practice. Here are some tips to make sure that your branding iron looks good and that you achieve the desired effect on your branding craft projects.
Be Aware of How Long Your Branding Iron Stays Hot
If you try to use a branding iron that is too cool, it will not leave a noticeable mark on the item you are branding. Before you start branding items, make sure the iron is hot enough. You should also be aware of how long it stays hot. Torch-heated brands cool off very quickly; you have to reheat them every few minutes. That could mean reheating your iron each time you brand an item. Therefore, torch-heated branding irons are the best choice when you are only branding one item, or maybe just a few.
By contrast, electric branding irons stay hot enough to brand successfully for a much longer time. Because they do not require frequent reheating, electric branding irons are the best choice when you are branding a large batch of items. For example, they are best if you are branding drink coasters for a wedding or Christmas ornaments for everyone on your list of Christmas card recipients.
How Do You Heat a Branding Iron Before Using It?
It is easy to heat an electric branding iron; just plug it into an electrical outlet. Within 20 minutes, it will be hot enough to brand a large batch of items. With a torch-heated iron, you have more options. You can heat it with anything that has a clean burning flame. The most obvious choice is a plumber’s torch, but not everyone has one of those. If your kitchen has a gas stove, you can just turn on one of the burners and hold the branding iron over the flame until it gets hot enough. While it is possible to heat a torch-heated branding iron over a wood fire, such as in a fireplace, it does not give you the best results. The heat is uneven and inconsistent. Besides, soot can accumulate on the head of the branding iron, so the brand will not look clean.
How Do I Know If Aluminum Branding Plates Are Right for Me?
Aluminum branding plates cost less than brass ones, which makes them an attractive choice. Aluminum branding plates tend to lose their shape and definition if heated and used too many times. Thus, they are better for small projects. For example, they are fine for a one-time project in which you brand leather gloves for the members of your bowling team. Another advantage of aluminum branding plates is that you can brand food items with them, which you cannot do with brass branding plates.
How Do I Know If Brass Branding Plates Are Right for Me?
If you need to make the same brand over and over on numerous items, then brass branding plates are the obvious choice. They last indefinitely, no matter how many times you heat them. For example, if you make wooden furniture and brand your logo on every piece, then a brass branding plate is definitely the one you want. While aluminum branding plates are limited in the types of surfaces they can brand, you can brand almost anything with a brass branding plate. They can even handle rough or painted surfaces. Of course, all of Gearheart’s branding irons are designed to work best on wood and leather. The only thing you can brand with an aluminum branding plate but cannot brand brass with is food.
How Long Should I Apply the Brand?
You only need to apply the branding iron to the item being branded for a few seconds. With an electric branding iron, four seconds is plenty. If you are using a torch-heated branding iron, you may need to apply it for up to 15 seconds.
How Hot Should an Electric Branding Iron Be?
The ideal temperature for an electric branding iron depends on what kind of material you are branding. Plastics require a low temperature, so you should set the branding iron’s temperature control unit to between 20% and 30%. When you brand leather, the ideal temperature is between 40% and 60%. To brand wooden items, set the temperature to 70%.
How to Cool a Branding Iron
When you let your branding iron cool down, you should always place it in a horizontal position. If you place it vertically, with the branding plate down, it could damage the branding plate or other parts of the branding iron. Let it cool for a long time before you touch the branding plate. It takes a branding iron much longer to cool down than it does to heat up.
Branding irons are a safe and fun way to make beautiful arts and crafts projects. If you follow the instructions about temperature and application time, your brands will come out looking good. Contact Gearheart if you have questions about troubleshooting your particular branding iron.