V carving Aluminum

Yep. Look at my Y plates. VCarve that X on them. Started with s 60 and it broke the tip right off. A 90 worked good. I was at 16000rpm and 50ipm

1 Like

This thread got me curious about the pros and cons of brass vs aluminum for branding irons. I found this page which compares them.

1 Like

You should contact @TinKirFX. Kris is a great guy and has helped me in the past.

1 Like

Anxious to see how this goes. I refinish electric guitar bodies and for years have wanted to brand my logo/signature on the bare wood of the neck pocket prior to returning to the customer.

I would recommend making your brand from brass and not aluminum. Aluminum dissipates heat too quickly and isn’t ideal for branding. Your feed rates and depth per pass is right on. That’s the settings I use. I’m using some combo of a 3/16 for roughing, and a 1/32 or 60° V for my detail pass.


Cool. It’ll still work. I noticed all you’re hold downs. May I suggest an alternative way to hold your piece in there? What I do is screw down a scrap piece of MDF, route a recess about 1/2 the depth of your metal, and then sink your workpiece in there with some double stick tape for extra measure. You’ll just need to offset the outer dimension of your hole by 0.015". Then you don’t have to worry about needing so much extra material to clamp, or run the risk of your bit hitting a hold down clamp.

1 Like

Nice, I think brass would be much better then aluminum since its melting point is much higher. Does the brass turn red when it gets hot, unlike aluminum?

Sorry I meant copper. Actually thought I was talking with the person that showed pictures of his brand.
Maybe you can answer my queston. Doe copper turn red when heated?

I think aluminum just liquid does before you have a chance to see it turn red like you would steel. At least that’s been my experience.

1 Like

There’s about 770°F difference between when paper spontaneously combusts (451°F), which I’m using as a base point for when wood starts to char for branding iron purposes, and the melting point of aluminum (1221°F).

At the risk of sounding too white trash, think about how hot a campfire/bonfire needs to be before the beer cans start to disappear…:beer:

1 Like

The brass doesn’t get red. It more just gets a slightly darker tone of brass in color. I try not to over heat my brand. I’ll have a scrap piece of wood on hand to test the brand out before hand to make sure my heat is just right. btw @PhilJohnson, the brand came out pretty good. I know you said you’re using a V bit, but are you actually using a v-carving process, or just setting a tool path like a straight flute bit?

1 Like

Ah, gotcha. Yeah, you’ll definitely want to be using a full V bit, not a tapered flat bottom bit.

1 Like

How are the measuring from the Aluminium piece?

This is awesome work Phil! I have been wanting to do this exact thing for a while; finally ordered some aluminum and viper bits to add some metal to the x-carve’s diet.
What is the total depth you are cutting into the aluminum? Do you think you could make it any less without effecting the clarity of the brand?

The down side to Aluminum as a brand is that it has a very small window between solid and Liquid. So be careful as you heat it. It doesn’t start to glow red till it’s in a liquid state so you can’t really judge heat by color.
Brass does glow red just prior to liquefying. But as phil pointed out Brass is much more expensive. Also if your going to try and machine it look for a “free machining” Brass it has extra elements added so that it it less likely to gum up tool bits.
(hint look on ebay for “Drops” or end cuts you can get some brass, aluminum, or steel cheap this way")

Nice Work Phil

1 Like

I really dig your handle!

1 Like

Gearheartindustry has a cool blog post about the differences between an aluminum and a brass branding iron.

FWIW I have been making these for several years and also have a blog post here: [Should I buy an Aluminum or Brass Branding Iron? – Yeltrowshop LLC]
on the subject. In full disclosure, I sell these. My findings: One gets such sloppy marks from the brand when heated to the danger point for aluminum, it almost isn’t relevant anymore. I’ve made 800+ impressions from a single iron made from aluminum heated to “branding temperature” (the temperature for getting the best detail) from an aluminum iron and it’s fine. Brass is really only needed when being sloppy about testing the iron temperature while heating. Over-powered electric handles can also get surprisingly hot (I’ve seen 1000F), which can cause damage at the interface between the handle and the head, so brass can be better there. With flame heating of the backside of the aluminum head that isn’t really an issue. My rule is “1 second to a little smoke = the sweet spot” for detail and mark quality.

Welcome to the forum @MattW.

So, do you have a project that you want to share or need help with, or is this just a post to link to your site?

Are you using an X-Carve to make the branding irons?


Brandon Parker

Hi Brandon! Thank you. The thread mostly was discussing the merits of the two materials (brass or aluminum) and I thought I could contribute based on my experience. With the machinery, skills, and enthusiasm of the users here, I would expect the forum users to make branding irons themselves. I use a shizuoka AN-S cnc mill running on linuxcnc. I also built a CNC router like the X-carve that ran linuxcnc. Let’s just say I learned a lot and as such have been kicking around an upgrade to an X-carve or similar machine.

1 Like