When I first started I decided that I would brand my equipment. I pretty much have all of my equipment except my inner covers branded...telescoping covers are branded on the inside, bottom boards on the bottom, and boxes on the ends. The large branding iron is kind of a "freehand" brand and cost me around $55...I bought it from this guy who sells on ebay: razin
. When I got this brand a couple of letters were "low" (or others were "high". What I did was get a flat file and file it until all letters were pretty much level with one another. I heat the iron with an old gas heater (one of those un-vented, illegal to install heaters that we still use for heating) at our store...I take out a couple of bricks and let the irons sit over the flame. I can get four good brands out of each heating, sometimes five....reheating takes just a few minutes....once the iron has been reheated several times it seems it reheats faster. For my low volume of branding requirements this works well.
I had been scribbling my brand on the top bars of my frames with any ballpoint pen that I found...it "kind of" lightly engraved as I pressed down hard. I recently splurged and bought one of Rockler's small branding irons
for branding my frames and I'm well pleased with it. The smaller letters are sharper than the letters of the larger branding iron which makes the brands look good and clear. I found a coupon online that brought the final cost down to $53...almost as much as the large iron. I can get a half dozen good brands out of the small iron before reheating and this one also reheats faster the more times it is reheated.
There's a small learning curve with both branding irons, but no biggie...if the brand is scorched around the edges that's ok with me...if it's a clean brand with no surrounding scorching that's fine, too. I'm doing it for identification, not looks.
I was talking with Ted Kretschmann the other day, he is the largest (and only) commercial beekeeper in Alabama. He strongly stated that equipment needs to be branded due to a high increase in hive thefts in the last few years...with this year being the worst yet.
Anyhow, here's some pictures of woodenware that I've branded so folks can see what the end results look like from these irons. There's other places to get them, better brands, etc., but this will give you some food for thought....
I've also got no interest/connection with either of these two sellers other than being a satisfied customer (even if I did have to file down the large iron)...
These boxes only have primer on them...with a good exterior latex paint on them they look a lot better.