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Branding Irons

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Luthier Atlanta, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. Either drill press style or the hand held. Any good connections??
    Any one using them???
  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
  3. I didn't think of them, I have ordered items from them in the past thou.

    No I am looking for a custom one for my company.

    Attached Files:

  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yes, hot branding works well as a technique for quickly putting a custom logo on a headstock. Some years back, we made up a branding rig for a project for a client.

    You don't have to go to Lee Valley or Rockler (although I like both companies!) for the branding rig. It's easy enough to make your own. You don't even need copper; a steel block works fine too. Any machine shop with CNC and EDM machines can make up the die for you, from your graphics. I think ours cost $200, back in the 1990's. You can probably get it even cheaper now.

    We mounted the die to the ram of an inexpensive arbor press, in a simple jig plate that lined it up on the headstock with pins that slipped down through two of the tuner holes. For the batch of prototypes, we just heated the die with a hand-held propane torch. That worked fine. For a production version, it's easy enough to add an industrial electric heating coil in behind the die.

    The trick to getting a nice crisp logo is in finding a good balance between the temperature of the die, the pressure that you use to apply it to the wood, and how long you hold it there. You don't want to burn the surface of the wood with a red-hot die. That will give you a ragged image. You really want to emboss the surface, pressing the die down into the wood, while lightly scorching the wood. I don't remember the temperature that we ended up using, but it wasn't that high; like 200-300 degrees. You can control the darkness of the logo with the temperature and the time. You have to experiment a little to find the right combination for the wood you are using. But once it's dialed in, it's a fast and consistent process.
  5. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
  6. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Seems a rather inelegant solution.
  7. It is for neck pockets, I am having water slides made up for the head stocks.
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Inelegant? I thought that the finished results that we got were more elegant and expensive looking than water slide decals. The logo looked like it had been engraved and black filled, with crisp edges and angled side walls. We just lightly sanded the top surface and sprayed with clear. Much higher quality than what you'll get with one of those commercial branding irons.

    If you are just looking for a quick logo hidden in the neck pocket, get a rubber stamp made! That's very cheap and foolproof.
  9. I'm with Bruce. Branding irons leave an awesome mark when done well. And it's a one shot deal too, no screwing around with inlays, engraving, waterslides, badges and lacquer, etc. You brand, sand and oil it and it's DONE! :)


    Mine is a lot more simple than some, but it's exceeded my expectations for very little money and effort.
  10. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars