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Branding iron - electric or not?

12750 Views 38 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  davgr
I'm looking into getting a custom branding iron to put my logo on my work. Electric ones are more than double the price of the ones you heat up with a torch, but are obviously more convenient as you just plug them in.

What's the quality difference between these two? Are the non electric ones a big pain to get consistent and even?

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I have an electric one and think the convenience is well worth it. Heating with a torch is almost guaranteed to give inconsistent results. They are nearly impossible to re-position to burn again without ghosting. You will be wishing you had the electric model as soon as one project gets messed up at the end. The electric model does require about 10 minutes to fully heat up.

I have an electric one. I have to plug it in and let it heat up for about 15 minutes for it to be up to temp, so it does take a little longer to get going than the torch heated ones. The reason I went with the electric one, was because I can just plug it in and go, no need to keep lighting a torch, running out of propane, open flame, etc.
I have a manually heated iron. I don't use a torch on it, instead I use my little hotplate. It will heat that bugger up in about 1 minute flat.
I use to use the torch, but as others said, I had trouble with ghosting.
This cured the problem, the hot plate cost a couple of dollars at a yard sale. The iron was around $50.

For the guys that use the electric units, would one of you please heat it up to usable temp and check that temp with a non-touch IR thermometer?

I would like to know how hot they actually get.
I have a lent, and it does work well (electric) The damn head is bent, so i have to rock it side to side and back and forth. I was going to try to fix it, but don't know how strong the head is.
Have used both. I have the electric one. Challenge is it takes 15+ min to warm up to a consistent temp. Electric is great if you need many imprints at one session. The press time is very consistent mark to mark in the same wood type. Although, the press time is a little different depending on wood type and it takes some practice to figure out the right count. I find 6-10 seconds about right for various hardwoods
Have to admit, I hate to wait for the electric to heat up. Several times while being impatient, I used a torch to get the brass head up to temp (maybe a minute) and then let the electric heater keep it going.

Best way I've seen on here so far! Good One!

"I use my little hotplate. It will heat that bugger up in about 1 minute flat."
Thanks everyone, sort of reinforced what I had been thinking. I'll likely be saving up many small projects and then branding them all at the same time, so having to wait for it to heat up isn't as big of a deal.
I have the electric version. If I had it to do over again I would do the same thing.

Plug it in, go work on something else for 15 minutes. Then apply. The convenience and consistency make it an easy decision for me.
Heated with a torch or on a gas burner would certainly be faster, electric would be good if you're branding quite a bit, a setup for any other method would certainly be more time consuming, but cheaper.
My avatar is my brand. I got it here.

I heat it with a torch. Practice on scraps, it's not a big deal.
I think it depends on whether you brand one thing at a time or in large batches. The torch method is most convenient for one at a time items, whereas for batches the electric will be more efficient.
I have an electric. I don 't mess with torches and open flames in the shop, and the electric iron gives even, predictable results.
I'll second that request Dallas made: can someone measure the working twmp of the electric units. Mine is an unheated one and that would be useful.
electric heating has one major disadvantage. There is a heating spiral and it may be burned over time. I personally use a gas burner and I have no problem. It's true that I use it every day, I have practice :))).

Brown Font Art Pattern Paper

Wood Font Line Art Plant

Gesture Font Finger Art Crest

White Font Line Circle Graphics

Font Circle Wood Pattern Art


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If you do not know here, I made a small video
I have a torch model. I typically heat based on experience and then test on a piece of scrap. Cheaper to buy initially, but it takes practice to get consistent results.

Next time I'll buy an electric model just for the ease of use.
I am going to bump this thread with a follow up of where did you get your branding iron and how do you like it? Also is your answer still the same between electric and external heat?

BYW, the hot plate idea is awesome.
I still insist that it is possible to achieve the same results with both types of heat :). A hot plate is a really good idea
I just have experience with using 2 items. The first iron I had was one that needed to be torch heated, and it would work if I got the heat "exactly" correct. Too short and it made for an impartial burn, too long it got things a bit crispy. So I started using an egg timer to keep track of how long I heated it, but it was still inconsistent because I also need to account for the ambient air temps as well. Cold days it was pretty much a mess all the time, hot days and it was burning up the wood after a short heating time.

I got an electric, and even with saying "electric" there are several types, and sizes/temp ranges of the actual tool, the electric burner. I spent the $$$$ and got the heavier, bigger model after talking with the guy I bought mine from.

Terry Desilets of Custom Branding Irons

Both my logo here, and this pic are of my brand. It's on some very light Cherry. I tried using my old brand on the same wood, and it just didn't work well. This pic is a super macro close up of my burnt on image. You can see the disturbance in this cherry. We all know Cherry burns like crazy, just try to rip a Cherry board. It's why I used it to test my brand on. Even plain old white pine holds an image better than this. So what I am saying is this is the worst yours will be, under an almost microscopic photography.

Plant Tree Wood Textile Twig

I also bought my Wife one when I ordered mine. Hers is much smaller, and is just her name, that she puts on all of her baskets after she finishes a weave. Hers is a smaller unit with a 10 minute warm up time. My much larger head I allow to heat for 15 minutes. Both of us are quite happy with the results we get. I probably should also point out my brand is now 13 years old, and has been applied to several thousand wooden pieces, and projects. Still going strong.

Plenty of places to get one of these. Knowing what I do about service, before, during, and after the sale I would keep going back to Terry.

Nope I don't get a red cent for saying that either, just a really satisfied customer.


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