Artists sign their work, but when the canvas is a piece of wood, creating a lasting signature means permanently scarring the wood. Branding is the ideal way to do this. Wood branding uses heated metal to scar the surface of the wood. It's similar to wood burning, but branding uses a single plate image while burning is performed freehand. Imprint plates and branding irons are the two key tools used in wood burning.
Initial Branding Iron
Initial branding irons have the simplest design. These branding irons are available in electric and nonelectric and include a plate with only a single row of upper case letters or numbers. Nonelectric branding irons are a solid brass head attached to a metal shaft that's topped with a wooden handle that stays cool during the heating process. The brand itself is heated over any flame (propane torch, fire, charcoal grill) and applied to the wood. With the same general design, the electric initial branding iron has interchangeable tips and is used for soldering and burning as well. The electric head heats up to 482 degrees C at 110 volts.
Regular branding irons have a very simple design, but their larger size allows for much more versatility when branding than an initial branding iron. Available in electric and nonelectric models, these branding irons allow the brander to include two or three lines of text on each plate so that entire phrases, rather than just initials, are stamped onto a piece of wood. Wood branders can use these brands to sign a piece with a plate that reads "Handcrafted by" on the first line with a name on the second or with a plate that has a transferred copy of the person's signature. Company logos and mailing addresses are also often stamped onto the plate of these branding irons.
Drill Press Branding Irons
When rapid, repeated branding is required, a branding iron is created that attaches directly to a drill press. Designed for use only when the drill is off, the branding iron takes advantage of the tool's economical movements to repeatedly raise and lower the branding iron with little effort. The plate itself is the same as on a regular branding iron, and, since it sits stationary on the drill press, this type of branding iron is only available in electric. Drill press branding irons are spring loaded so that continued pressure is easily added after the initial contact. For logo designs on both the drill press and regular branding iron plates, a clear black and white replica of the image is sent to the manufacturer so that the image is stamped onto the brand plate.