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I Forge Iron

Branding Irons...the "old" way

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Good morning,

world anyone care to make a blueprint or post how they make a fire-heated branding iron from start to finish using traditional methods in most of the process?

I ask because I realized yesterday that if I were to do it the traditional ways (aka no mig welder or angle grinder) what already takes me sometimes up to 22 hours (depending on design intricacies and size of brand face) would take weeks on end.

Please excuse me for being new but I just don't see how you could forge-weld
the face pattern like this very easily fire-heated290.jpg.

My very first commission was to make a large brand with this as the pattern:
I wanted to make it perfect and seamless and untouched by a modern welder, like one perfect life-sized version of that chevron carved out of metal. What I came up with came out awesome but still I had to resort to welding and the angle grinder for joining the parts.

I live in a cattle dominated state and have seen many authentic antique branding irons used on ranches around here. Some are shoddy looking but functional, others are just beautiful and you can tell that some smith really put his heart into it.

Can someone describe from start to finish how they would make a brand using traditional methods only?

Thank you,


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I think you might have answered your own question...

carved out of metal

You could make a piece just like that, with clean, crisp lines and perfect symmetry, but you are talking about a lot of meticulous hand work... drill, chisel, & file work.

"perfect and seamless and untouched by a modern welder" is a tall order, but folks have been doing fine metal work for centuries. It's really a mater of how much time you are willing to put into such a project. I've seen some beautiful carving done in knife blades recently; vines and leaves and even bugs and worm-holes, but it requires a lot of skill and patience.

No task is insurmountable, but is the time it takes worth it?
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from what ive seen of originals its mortice and tennon with forge welds and rivets where needed ... lotsa work for a complex dezign . most of the brands were fairly simple dezigns for many reasons and construction was one of them .it was also a matter of hide damage ... you wanted to keep the wound to a minimum .I always ask what the coustomer wants and most dont want to spend the money for a traditional made one.good luck!

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Rivets and forge welds...because the design must meet the constraints of the available skills and technologies of the relative time period in which they existed. In other words, you have to design around whatever your skill set can achieve with success.

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Here is a start of a branding iron that I haven't finished yet. I started with 3/8"x1". The forging is self explanitory, and you can see how the pieces will be joined. There is plenty of material left to forge weld the three pieces together and forge the handle. It will take a half a day to finish, and I already have over half a day in it. I couldn't find my other pictures of branding irons.




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