A transformation from potential to performance

Discussion in 'The Brush' started by GDCarrington, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    This is the story of an individual who saw two brushes at a retail store from a brand that has a boutique reputation. Thinking that he had a real deal, he buys the brushes for about 50% of what their suggested retail price was. He liked the handles because they were easy for him to hold, but there was a problem. Some hairs were shedding. No, make that, many hairs were shedding and the knots seems to be out of alignment and very uneven. Here is a quote on the performance of the brushes, " Those hairs were coming out so badly that I had loose badger hair all over my face getting in the way of the razor path." So he contacted the company and tried to discuss the issue, but the owner basically dismissed most of the issues at hand, and finally the purchaser realized that the discussions with the company and its owner would go nowhere. Later he looked and found another brush that was extremely suitable and to his liking. However, one thing was puzzling him. Could these brushes be restored?

    That is where I got involved. I was contacted about restoring at least one of the brushes. One would be a backup in case the other had a major problem. I agreed to do the work, and the two brushes were sent to me and I began to examine them. When they arrived here was how they looked.


    The hairs for a Fine grade were very dismal and the knots were really out of balance for relatively new brushes. So I began by noting the material of the handle was acrylic. That would allow me to use the steam method which really works best for the acrylic and ceramic handles, versus plastics and woods were temperature and porousness could cause problems. I use a bamboo steamer that goes over a standard kitchen pot. Place a quart and a half of water in a three quart pot. Bring the water to a full boil and place the first section of an 8 inch bamboo steamer on top the pot. Here is how that would look.


    Now while the water is coming to a boil, I placed a cloth on the bottom of the second section of the steamer, being careful not to fully cover the vents, and placed the brushes inside as displayed here.


    Now when the water was fully boiling in the pot and the first rack was covering the pot, I then turned down the heat until the water was simmering but producing plenty of steam. I then placed the second rack on top of the first rack and then covered up the steamer with the top. This is how it looked.


    Now normally it takes any where from 15 to 30 minutes of steam to release a strong epoxied knot from the handle. Most of the work is caused by expansion of both the handle and the knot. When the handle is removed from the steam, the base of knot and the handle contract at different rates. This make it easy to pull the knot out by the hairs with a set of pliers while holding the handle with an oven mitt. These brushes were very different. I normally check the handle at 10 minute intervals to see if anything is warping, or any issues are occurring, and I noticed at ten minutes that the hairs were frizzed out and a super bloom developed. I removed a handle with an oven mitt and took some pliers and pulled. The knot did not come out, but hairs came out in chunks. I kept pulling and noticed a semi soft glue inside that was attempting to keep the hairs in place. Now this was supposedly a hand made knot but it was held in the handle with a very weak glue. So I pulled all the hairs out the brush quickly in clumps instead of the whole knot at once. That was the fastest I have ever removed the knot in terms of steam time. I went back and removed the other brush and repeated the same steps and turned off the heat on the stove. Here is how the hairs looked after removal.


    I immediately noticed that the hairs were barely glued in based on the amount of glue on the clumps in the image. Another issue was that one of the handles had a large indenture that would have caused the knot to have even more security and shedding issues. Those original hairs were falling out due to very clear reasons. What little firm glue that remained was easily removed from the insides of the handles. After the clean up was complete and the handles had all brand identifiers removed (painted on), it was now up to the owner to choose a new knot for the handle that had a stable level shelf to work with.

    A list of knot suppers and knots were reviewed. The hole was 20.5 mm and there was no room to expand so the knot choices would be limited to 20 mm. The owner and I discussed various knots and then settled in on a 20 mm Super Badger Bulb from The Golden Nib. When the knot arrived, I had the handle in ready state. The first thing I did when the knot arrived was gently check with very soft tugs on the hairs to see if there were any defects or shedding of hairs. There were none. Then I gave the knot a brief cleaning with M.A.C. brush cleaner and allowed it to dry before installing. M.A.C. Brush Cleaner is a shampoo that is designed for brushes and removes any remaining residue from the knot and some of the strong smell as well.


    Once the knot was dry, it was placed in the handle to make sure everything would be even and level for the epoxy. Epoxy was applied to the base of the knot, the shelf of the handle and the sides of the knot and inside of the handle. Since the handle was slender and the hole was deep enough no additional drilling was performed. When set, the overall effective loft would be 55 mm which would allow the brush to perform well without being too floppy. The following shows the brush and knot before and after bonding.


    Then, after a 24 hour cure rate per the instructions on the epoxy, I began to perform an initial break in to make sure that the knot is good and that no major issues with shedding or anything else would occur before shipping. What I did was take some current formula Williams soap and prepared the lather as usual and vigorously applied the brush to my each of my forearms. I do this because I do not want to dry out my face with multiple face lathering. This was done twice a day, for two days. After the lathering, then another cleaning with the M.A.C. Brush Cleaner was performed before preparing the brush for shipment to its owner. A brush is now turned from potential to performance.


    After completion, it was placed in a box and shipped back to its owner. For my compensation I was allowed to keep the handle that has the indenture which can be worked out with epoxy and judicious sanding. Now I have kept the owner a secret so that he can come in, when he is ready, and discuss his views on the original brush and the restored brush.

    Thank you for reading this restoration story.
    feeltheburn, JBSharp, bruseth and 8 others like this.
  2. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Nice job, beautiful restore upgrade...

    ...now we just need the owner to come in and spill the beans!
    GDCarrington likes this.
  3. Slipperyjoe

    Slipperyjoe Rusty Metal Tetanus

    Gary this is really an outstanding write up deserving of recognition..and I am gonna use this essay as a reference for re-knotting in the future..though for a minute there I thought the brushes were gonna start talking to each other..;)
    burnout961 and GDCarrington like this.
  4. tomnat

    tomnat accepting applications

    Great job, Gary! Very nice write up and superb pics. :2thumbs:
    GDCarrington likes this.
  5. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Thanks gents!
    oscar11 likes this.
  6. oscar11

    oscar11 Well-Known Member

    GD, your from Texas, Cowboy up!
    Nice tutorial, BTW.
    GDCarrington likes this.
  7. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Great job, Gary! :2thumbs:
    GDCarrington likes this.
  8. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    I'm from Texas but my skin dries out just a little too fast if I do too much lathering. Twice a day max is my rule. I did a four per testing some brushes and the next day paid!
    So I found a more efficient way.
  9. emmijack

    emmijack Well-Known Member

    The upgrade is very nice indeed, nice work!!!!
    GDCarrington likes this.
  10. Azarius

    Azarius Must have had his WHEATies

    Excellent job Gary. This was one of the best and most insightful post that I have ever read on any shaving forum.

    Bravo..fine, fine job sir.
    GDCarrington likes this.
  11. lindyhopper66

    lindyhopper66 Well-Known Member

    The transformed eshave brush was mine. I was told by the customer service person, who ended up being Daniele, the owner of eshave that these couldn't be her brushes because her brushes and the hair and workmanship with her brushes was far superior to any on the market and would never be sold as seconds at Marshalls, an American discount store of overstock, seconds, etc.

    I emailed her receipts and photos of the brushes, boxes and inside ad booklet. She finally conceded they were her brushes, but wouldn't do anything about it or admit they were problem brushes.

    So I had posted about here at theshaveden about it and Gary noticed. Months later I asked if he could restore the knot for me. He did so and now I have the wonderful handle with a wonderful brush that has spine and is soft and is blooming very well. It lathers soaps and creams equally well and fast. It holds water and lather and paints it on well.
    JBSharp, GDCarrington and Azarius like this.
  12. burnout961

    burnout961 Well-Known Member

    Great tutorial and restore Gary and congrats on the "new" brush Lindy! Maybe you can send Daniele the pics so that she can see how the "knots" in her brushes compare to real quality knots? Naw never mind from what I remember on your original post you'd never get her to believe or concede. Anyway enjoy it.
    lindyhopper66 and GDCarrington like this.
  13. alpla444

    alpla444 That's sweet!

    sweet work there, i suppose the first thing that draws most of us to certain brushs is the handle, (once we have decided on badger/boar/man made and price)
    GDCarrington likes this.
  14. lindyhopper66

    lindyhopper66 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, you're right burnout961, Daniel is good at denial and acts all offended when presented with the facts.

    I love the eshave handle. I've had carpal tunnel surgeries and trigger finger surgeries on both of my hands and using some of my smaller, less ergonomic brush handles still tire my hand out. I hold this brush as if I were holding a razor and my hands don't tire. I like the big handle on the H.I.S. brushes as well.
    GDCarrington likes this.
  15. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Bechet45 over at another forum directed me to this link.

    It seems that they have gone with a different color scheme.


    It seems to me that £48.00 (74 U.S.D.) is an awful high of a price to pay just to buy a handle to build again to make it correct. :D
  16. lindyhopper66

    lindyhopper66 Well-Known Member

    Good-looking handle though, but I wouldn't pay that just for a handle.
    GDCarrington likes this.
  17. burnout961

    burnout961 Well-Known Member

    I just checked Amazon and they have them for $60 in a half dozen colors, but yeah a little much to pay for just a handle. It's funny the brush only has 4 reviews 3 positive and 1 negative. The 3 positive were from 2008 and 2010 and the negative is from this year. Could it be they changed suppliers or something last year (probably to get their products cheaper so as to increase the profit margin)? Anyway here's a link and I gotta ask Lindyhopper66 was that your review? If not then yours is obviously not an isolated event.
    lindyhopper66 and GDCarrington like this.
  18. old okie

    old okie Member

    I enjoyed this posting on brushes, not only did I learn a lot I also learned where not to go to buy a new brush. Thanks
    GDCarrington likes this.
  19. ChemErik

    ChemErik Mr. Personality

    Gary, excellent work and excellent write-up. Thank-you very much for sharing this with everyone here.
    GDCarrington likes this.
  20. lindyhopper66

    lindyhopper66 Well-Known Member

    Nope, that wasn't my negative review. That reviewer must have contacted Danielle, the owner, like I did and got the same run around. She was so arrogant and mean-spirited. Not good business sense if you ask me.
    PLANofMAN and burnout961 like this.

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