Custom branding irons can be super expensive for leather or woodworking. These are great for putting a small logo somewhere on your product. So what's the alternative? Make your own!
if you want to go super cheap all you need is a really, really big nail. That's what I used to make my first branding irons to put my armadillo logo onto my leather products and used it for years. You can make a simple wood handle for it and just heat it up on a gas stove. Simple and cheap. You can also use it as a stamp for veg tanned leather.
But it I was tired of heating it up like that so I customized a store bought Walnut Hollow wood burning tool called the versa-tool. You can buy this product at Michael's craft store or online for $29.99. It comes with a bunch of useless points that you probably won't use but some are useful. The newest model has variable temperature adjustment which they didn't make when I bought mine. You definitely want the one made for wood burning because the cheaper models don't get hot enough. This project modifies the transfer point which is a round disk shaped tip. You can also use the tapered point that comes with the brand for pyrography. Check out my video for that here.
Step 1: Tools
-Walnut Hollow Versa-tool. ($29.99 at Michael's)
-Transfer point ( get a couple in case you mess up or want to make more designs )
-Hack saw with new blade
-Dremel with various bits or cut off discs
-Jewelers files (cheapies from Menards)
-Sharpie (fine point)
Step 2: Secure in vise
The tips for the branding iron are threaded so you can interchange them. You need to protect the threads on the transfer point from being damaged. I wrapped a piece of leather around the threads and then secured them in the vise.
Step 3: Draw on design
Use a Sharpie to draw on your design. Remember that whatever you make needs to be the opposite or backwards of what your finished design will be. If you do any letters the need to be reversed.
Using the hack saw or Dremel cut out the rough shape without touching your design.
Step 4: Rough cutting
Continue to cut with the hack saw or Dremel close to your design. If you have a new hack saw blade you can get quite detailed with it but more so with a Dremel.
Step 5: Detail
Using jeweler files and/or Dremel with a diamond bit cut out the details close to your design. Take your time and you'll be fine.
To make the eye I used a metal punch to make a tiny divit and then drilled it with a diamond bit for the dremel.
Step 6: Refine
At this point you can use a fine 400 grit wet sand paper to remove your Sharpie marks and polish it up a bit. Don't round over the edges! You want them nice and crisp. I then compared them to my nail stamp and saw that I needed to clean it up a bit more.
Step 7: Test it
Screw the threads into your versa-tool and test it out. Clean up any indistinct parts of your design and your done. If you take care to not cross-thread the tip as you put it into the tool this should last forever. Post your designs under comments if you make one. Cheers!