Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tool Review -- Lee Valley's Non-Electric Branding Iron

My son got me this for Christmas, and I'm delighted with it.

In two lines it says,

The machining of the brand's face is exquisite, and the tool works as advertised. There is some skill to using the tool, though, and that can only be acquired with practice. Try the brand out on scrap material before applying it to anything that matters to you. The skill is in getting the thing straight, and applying sufficient overall pressure so as to produce a uniformly burned image. It seems to help to rock the tool very slightly from side to side, and from top to bottom. Be careful that you don't let the brand lift at all while rocking it -- you're liable to produce a somewhat doubled impression. Here's a view of three of my practice brands that illustrates some of the pitfalls.

All three are marginally acceptable. The upper one is a little bit overdone, but it's the best. The other two suffer from near-voids. (The bottom one would have been perfect had I leaned just a little harder on the right side.)

The instruction sheet that comes with the brand is quite adequate. The sheet calls for 1 - 3 minutes of heating with a propane torch. I've found that 3 minutes with a moderate flame produces a reliably heated brand. At first, you're probably better off to err on the side of overdoing your impression, rather than be afraid of the tool and get an impression with voids.

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