"Make your own branding iron?", you say? Absolutely! Using materials found lying around the house, you too can act out those fantasies of riding, roping and branding
A site I visit regularly is Instructables and recently they had a multi-category BBQ competition. One of the entries demonstrated how to make your own barbecue brand, for branding your steaks while grilling. The gentleman responsible used a couple of bicycle wheel spokes that had been welded together and then shaped using vice grips into the outline of a cattle beast! Bicycle spokes are made of stainless steel, making it safe for use with food and heat, unlike say, fencing wire or coat hangers which are made with alloys which are potentially harmful. It was a seemingly straightforward project, so I gave it a go and thought I'd share the results with you.
I don't have welding equipment, so I made a simple branding iron. For this, you'll only need one spoke. Bear in mind though that most of it will be used up in making your desired shape, so when you go to use it, you'll need pliers to pick it up because of the heat. To make something a little more elaborate, and if you're wanting to attach a handle to it as well, you'll need at least two spokes and a welder of some description.
To make a basic branding iron, you'll need:
- An old bicycle wheel
- Steel wool
- Jiff or similar scouring-type cleaner
- Emery cloth (fine grade sandpaper would work too)
- Clean cloth
- A pair of vice grips (pliers would work but you get a better grip with VGs)
Down to business. Remove the tyre and inner tube from the bike wheel, then take off the protective rubber strip covering the wheel rim, which will expose the spoke screws.
Undo the screw holding the spoke in place, then feed through the hole where the hooked end of the spoke is connected to the hub.
Once removed, give the spoke a good scrub with the steel wool and cleaner. Dry, then rub over with the emery cloth. Wipe down to remove metal shavings.
Grab your vice grips and shape into whatever form takes your fancy. The Instructable went for a cattle shape, while I made a cowboy hat:
Voila - all done! Time for action: into a hot pan went some porterhouse - season, sear, flip and then the pan went into a hot oven. While the steak was cooking, I popped the brand onto one of the elements on the stovetop to heat up - it needs to be super hot. By the way, If I need to point out the obvious dangers involved in using heat and metal, then maybe you should go do something else.
Hold on to your cowboy hats, pilgrims! Using my pliers, I took the brand off the element. Out came the steak and with a resounding hiss, the branding iron went on! Upon removal, an impression of Noah's Ark was left on my steak - huzzah!
Be aware that your brand can be used on all manner of meat, whether it be beef, chicken, bacon or someone's buttocks seek permission first. Give it a go!