Back to basics: brush terminology

Discussion in 'The Brush' started by Sodapopjones, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. Sodapopjones

    Sodapopjones Well-Known Member

    Flow Through: You often hear this term but what is it? Essentially its the ability of the brush to release the built up lather from through out the breach onto your face or bowl.

    Breach: The inner workings of the knot, i.e. the center.

    Knot: The brush bristles itself bunched together.

    Tips: Referring to the very top of the bristle.

    Scritch: The measure of scratch "Scritch" at the tips of the bristle, generally hair grade and density determine "Scritch", for example: Vulfix "Pure" badger lends itself to being very scritchy while Vulfix "Silvertip" badger generally posses none, there are exceptions to everything and vary per manufacturer.

    Grades of Hair: Each and every manufacturer classifies their own hair, the stigma of pure is pure and silvertip is silvertip, for the most part is false. I can give you a couple of examples; Simpsons "Best" badger in reality is closer to what you expect from other manufactures "Silvertip", Shavemac's "Pure" badger is closely related to what other manufactures would call "Finest" or "2 band".

    2 band really is nothing more than an aesthetic, meaning 2 bands of hair are shown above the collar; typically 3 bands are visible.

    Hair types such as: boar, horse, badger, and synthetic comparisons are highly opinionated and I won't touch on these, your best bet is to just read a review for whatever brush you're looking for, or you can pm me.

    Density: How tightly packed the brushes bristles are, generally a denser brush holds more of its lather and makes for a scrubbier feeling on your face, a lighter packed brush is known as being floppy since it has less hair packed into the knot. Often the misconception of a floppy brush is that it won't make for a great soap brush, this is not true, in reality it will build lather faster since there is more room for air and water to mix; it may make the initial lather building process harder for some.

    Floppy: A brush that has less bristles in the knot and that does not contain much backbone to prevent it from falling upon itself.

    Backbone: Different grades of hair and types of hair offer different types of backbone; generally this term is used to describe the ability of the shafts of hair to withstand pressure and force.

    Lather Hog: A densely packed brush that doesn't like to release its lather.

    Water Retention: The ability for the actual bristle themselves to hold onto water; depending on which grade or type of hair you're using, your knot will either hold or repel water.

    The importance of this can be taken many different ways, boar likes to repel water, meaning more product and water is generally used making for a great initial lather, but may require reloading of the brush to continue with further passes.

    Badger hair, for the most part is a finer grade of hair which holds onto its water, even if its shaken out or squeezed out... This characteristic makes for a brush that will hold onto its lather and release it more evenly through out the shave, and generally doesn't need to be reloaded. There are exceptions to this as there is in everything.

    Bloom: After a brushes bristles has been whetted and or used, the bristle opens up like a blooming flower, hence the term "Bloom".

    Post Bloom: The degree of bloom the bristle displays after being dried.

    Forms: Much like a mold, this is how hand tied knots are formed, they're pressed into a mold like funnel for shaping purposes.

    Hand Tied Knot: The process of actually weighing, bunching, tying and forming a bundle of hair and ultimately gluing it together into a knot.

    Plugs: Machine produced knots gather a bunch of hair, and solidify it into a resin plug.

    Collar: The portion of the brush where the knot protrudes from the brush, like your head popping out of a shirt collar.

    Ringlet: Either metal or plastic, used to set the actual knot into before being itself set into a handle; generally used on hollow handles. (See Plisson and Omega for examples)

    Shelf: A base of material in the interior of the handle, a hardened resin or the actual brush medium itself; the knot is either set into or on top of the shelf.

    Loft: The actual height of the bristle, measured from above the collar of the brush; generally a taller loft will flow better, and may make the brush floppy, depending on density.

    Crown: The shape of the top of the loft itself, usually either rounded, i.e. bulb shaped or flat i.e. fan shaped.

    Fan vs Bulb shaped lofts; generally fan shaped knots were used by the old British establishments and were primarily meant to be used for face lathering since more surface area of bristle would meet with your face. Bulb shaped lofts are versatile and can be used many ways; Plisson is known for their distinct bulb shaped crowns, which work well for the old style of paint brush stroke application of lather.

    Glue Bump: Excess glue built up in the center of the knot which protrudes past the collar of the handle (See Morris & Forndran as an example). In most cases this doesn't effect the knots performance, however in extreme cases it shortens the essential loft and affects the knots ability to lather (Bestshave "Faux" horse hair brushes for example).

    Base: The bottom of the brush handle

    Blank: A solid block of wood, resin, acrylic or other material which is used to fashion the handle from, either on a lathe or CNC machine.

    Rod Stock: A rod of acrylic, horn, wood or other material shaped as a rod and not a blank.

    Hand Turned: A term used to describe the fashioning of a brush handle done by hand on a lathe; its often loosely used to describe turning handles on CNC machines.

    Lathe: A machining tool which spins a medium while the operator cuts, sands, polishes and ultimately shapes a blank or rod into a brush handle.

    CNC machines are essentially automated lathes, computer operated and used to shape the piece(s) per programed specifications.
    Enrico, Leo501, Primotenore and 42 others like this.
  2. m0j0j0eman

    m0j0j0eman Active Member

    :smiley respect:Master Brush handler.
    Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.
  3. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Cool Mang, thanks!
    brit, Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.
  4. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Aaron excellent and concise information on brushes. Thanks!!!
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  5. newb

    newb Resident Newb

    Thanks Aaron, Great post. It makes the description of brush characteristics much easier for me to understand. AWESOME-O. This is a very valuable post worthy of a sticky.
    Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.
  6. SharpSpine

    SharpSpine Well-Known Member

    SAT Question of the day...

    Aaron is to _______ as Jody is to razors

    A. Fantasy Football
    B. Kitty Calendars
    C. Chia Pets
    D. Brushes

    Correct Answer: D, Aaron the Brush Master
    Carbide Mike, PatrickA51 and alpla444 like this.
  7. Sodapopjones

    Sodapopjones Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone, woot a sticky, I guess I will go ahead and clean it up some then.

    Hah, I'm just man with an addiction.
  8. Nick A

    Nick A Active Member

    So, who is the go to guy when I want to shave my Chia Pet?

    Also, great post in general, very informative.
    Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.
  9. swarden43

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

    Excellent job, Aaron. Excellent.
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  10. tomnat

    tomnat accepting applications

    I don't consider myself a newbie anymore but this excellent information helped me understand brush anatomy better. Thanks for the effort Aaron. Great job!

    p.s. If I may make a suggestion...............could you add "Loft" to the list??
  11. SharpSpine

    SharpSpine Well-Known Member

    And maybe a bit of info on the different shapes of brushes... like fan, bulb, etc.
    Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.
  12. alpla444

    alpla444 That's sweet!

    yeah thanks for going out of your way too explain stuff Aaron.:)
    im loving my omega pro, but will opt for a propper badger soon ish, only have a TOBS pure badger its not. but I do want a brush with a larger knott
  13. Sodapopjones

    Sodapopjones Well-Known Member

    Good thought, get right on it.


    Anyone else have any suggestions?
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  14. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    I suggest you send me that M&F HMW? :happy097:
  15. tomnat

    tomnat accepting applications

    Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.
  16. BassTone

    BassTone Well-Known Member

    I've been wet shaving and poking around on forums for about three years or so and have slowly gleaned much, but not all, of what you've stated above during this time. It is so cool to see these terms and definitions laid out so well and concisely. It will make wading through reviews so much easier for newbies. :thanks:
  17. Sodapopjones

    Sodapopjones Well-Known Member

    I think you mean the Blonde badger, I'm sure you can find a hot blonde of your own! :pri:
  18. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    :scared001:Yep, thats what I meant. SWMBO would kill me....been spending more than usual lately, so if I brought one of them hotties home she'd absolutely kill me. It would be me and a ever growing box of shave stuff camped out in my front yard........
  19. Billr

    Billr Mix Master Mighty White!

    This has come at a great time for me! I was talking with my Barber (who is also a wood turner) today and he is going to turn a brush for me. Now I just need to figure out what design, how big, what size knot I want and all that jazz. Something tells me I will be posting questions soon.
    Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.
  20. MRast01

    MRast01 Well-Known Member

    Fantastic thread! Brushes are definitely a weakness in my shaving knowledge. For good or bad have not been hit hard by this AD, but have really been thinking about adding one or two to my rotation. This has provided some great information for that quest.
    Carbide Mike and PatrickA51 like this.

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