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My dad asked me to build him something for his place with some old family cattle brands burned into it. What would be the best way to do this? Should I heat up a metal rod in a gas grill or with a hand torch? Would charcoal work better?
 

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Not a torch, you'll want all of the brand to be hot enough at the same time.

I haven't done this, but an idea. Those big tin cans, are they called #10? Like the big ones that sliced peaches come in at Sam's Club. Top out of the can, make a bunch of holes in the bottom and around the lower sides of the can. Place in a charcoal grill, a couple of sheets of balled up newspaper in the can, then 2/3s full of charcoal. stick a match in to get the paper going, when the charcoal is hot set the brand on top of it. Increase air flow if you need to get it hotter.

An uncle did that with charcoal and a can to get the charcoal started for a BBQ, then he'd dump it into the grill. For this leave it in the can to concentrate the heat.

I don't know how hot the brand needs to be, maybe just starting to glow? The hotter it is the less time it needs on the wood lol.
 

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If you do it at dusk it will be a lot easier to see the color of the iron. I only played around a bit with wood burning as kid, with a soldering iron etc. Someone more experienced can recommend how hot you want the brand to be.

When being used for real, the surface the iron is pressed to conforms to the brand, wood won't do that, the brand might not be all that flat, but that can add character I guess.

Modern brands are electric, think of the coils on an old fashioned electric stove. Ok, don't t think about it too long.
 

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Brian, start from the beginning.
what size boards, what size brands, how many different brand designs, yada yada yada.
do you have a lot of branding irons laying around that you can use, or are you going to make some yourself. or, make a "running iron" to free-hand brand designs.
a charcoal fire (BBQ briquettes) will heat it just fine, if you want to go that route.
need more information.
there are other ways to "reproduce" a brand image with a a router and 1/4" round nose bit then blacken the graphics.
 

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If you have to burn a brand, go outside and build a fire. Bunch of charcoal briquettes if you have to.
For a one-off, do as Bengal says = do this at dusk so you can watch the metal heating.

Have you got the old family branding irons? Could you get replicas welded up?
Give him a set of the real things. Build the blank, build the fire, let him do the branding himself.
 

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My dad asked me to build him something for his place with some old family cattle brands burned into it. What would be the best way to do this? Should I heat up a metal rod in a gas grill or with a hand torch? Would charcoal work better?
When I first read your post, I thought you had the branding irons and would heat them up and burn the wood. Now I think you have the patterns, but not the irons.

Have you looked at ordinary woodburning tools? The cheap ones are not much different than a pen-style soldering iron. You could burn in the patterns by hand. I had a cheap woodburning kit when I was a kid and I am pretty sure it was nothing more than a soldering iron with a variety of tips.

If you are good with hand drawing, it might be easiest to use a pencil and draw them yourself before going over them with a woodburner. If the wood is flat, you can transfer the cattle brand patterns to the wood by printing it extra dark in reverse on a laser printer. Use a household iron to melt the toner onto the wood. Practice on scrap first.

Do a web search on "woodburning". Some people make fine, detailed images that way. Yours would be simple in comparison.
 

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in response to the "How to" question:
you would be surprised at how much "damage" you can do to a piece of wood with a regular soldering iron.
draw your images on wood and trace it out with the soldering gun to the depth you feel is necessary (1/16")
are you making a sign, table, chairs, some kind of furniture ???
425050
 

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An 8" nail has a 3/4" diameter head. Costs me $0.50 each. I carve brands in the nail heads with a Dremel and cut off wheels. 1/16" deep is plenty. Added a gouge-style handle and heat with a bottle torch. I sign all of my wood carvings that way.
 

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Brands dont much care how they get heated, so long as all of the branding surface gets heated. Pay close attention to the first line of Mr Bengals reply, "you'll want all of the brand to be hot enough at the same time". That will limit what heating method you use depending on how large the brand is.

Smaller brands, say the size of an index card (roughly 4x3") would be the limit of what i would say you could do with an average blowtorch. A gas grill probably wont work too well, even at the index card size. The burners in those are meant to output a lot of heat, sure, but theyre meant to do so over an equally large area. It would be a challenge to get a brand up to a working temperature, not worth it in my opinion. A charcoal fire would be the best option, for nearly any size of brand too, so long as you have a big enough spot to build the fire. Get a fire big enough to fit the brand going, stick said brand down in the coals, get it good and toasty and get to poking.

Oh, and whatever you do do not use an actual project as the victim for your first attempt at branding. Brands on wood can be a bit finicky, it takes some experimentation to figure out how hot you need the brand and how long you need to keep it on the wood. Too hot or too long and you end up with charcoal. Also, branding goes before finishing, DAMHIK
 
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