Dissecting A Semogue SOC Boar Brush - A Mystery Explained

Discussion in 'The Brush' started by Screwtape, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. Screwtape

    Screwtape A Shaving Butterfly

    I owned a Semogue Owners Club cherrywood boar brush and was never happy with its performance.

    The Semogue SOC brushes are famous for their immense bloom once they have been broken in. They also are noted for being softer boar than Omegas even though both companies use good quality bristle and their 24mm brushes seem to have similar lofts. I was curious why the differences. Here a couple photos with my own SOC showing that bloom:

    IMG_00000116.jpg IMG_00000143.jpg

    My own SOC 24mm boar brush seemed to have less backbone than even my equivalent sized 24mm badger or synthetic brushes and often failed to hold enough soap for enough passes. When it started shedding that was the last straw. I decided to remove the knot and replace it with a 24mm Tuxedo, after comparing the Tuxedo to the size of the metal ring holding the boar knot and confirming that there was clearly enough room.

    It didn't go so well. After cutting off the hair flush with the metal rim, I was unable to chisel the rest of the knot out of the metal cup, although I did manage to dig into my own finger. So I contacted Jason @jtspartan and shipped the whole mess off to him. Jason cleaned the knot out of the metal cupholder, then installed the Tuxedo knot in its place. However, to install my 24mm Tuxedo knot in place of the original 24mm boar knot, Jason eventually had to bore out the entire metal knotholder.

    The reason? The cupholder was not a parallel-sided cylinder 24mm wide throughout its entire depth but a slope-sided truncated cone that was 24mm at the mouth but only about 20mm at the base.

    This means that the "24mm" SOC boar is NOT a true 24mm knot held tightly together until it exits the handle (like a 24mm Omega). Instead it is actually a 20mm knot set so that it starts to splay right from its base and has already reached a spread of 24mm when it exits the handle.

    This explains the famous wide bloom of the SOC as well as its softer backbone than an Omega -- the brush is less dense and is already loosening and spreading out even before it exits the base of the handle. The boar bristles themselves are probably no different than those in an Omega, they are just less densely packed. And it also explains why I found the performance of this "24mm" brush less effective than my other 24mm brushes -- it is really a 20mm trying to mimic the size and shape of a 24mm.

    Interesting what you can learn when you take something apart...

    BTW, I should have my new true 24mm Semogue Owners Club cherrywood Tuxedo brush back in my hands in a week or so. From the photos, I think it will look fantastic. I will post pics on this thread when it arrives.
  2. TobyC

    TobyC Well-Known Member


    I prefer to choose the handle that I want, and install the knot that I want, that way I know what I have!
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  3. jtspartan

    jtspartan appropriately stimulated, via Netflix

    John, you are bang on. Below are pics of the 24mm sitting on the metal ‘ring’ and of the tuxedo dry fitted into the handle without the ring. Even without the ring, a 24 mm Tuxedo is a snug fit in a handle that proported to have a 24mm knot even with the metal ring.

    D464FBCD-9AD1-4C46-AEFA-8B27ADE4CC60.jpeg 57F7FA51-1136-4B11-9CB3-A0CA57C51BFC.jpeg
  4. pisces_0

    pisces_0 Well-Known Member

    Interesting, indeed...

    I've been using a Semogue SOC for the past year and absolutely love the bloom/splay and softness after a quick soak. This explains why.

    Am I irked that its not a "true" 24mm brush? Nah, not in the least. It works great and, to be honest, these design features actually do work. Now, Semogue may have some answering to do to those buyers who are a bit pickier than I...
    9nein9 and Screwtape like this.
  5. Screwtape

    Screwtape A Shaving Butterfly

    "One man's meat is another man's poison."

    I am certainly not going to argue with anyone who likes the SOC boar brush. I just find it interesting to be able finally to attribute the difference in behaviour between Semogue and Omega brushes to something other than a magical but invisible difference in the breed of pigs they get their bristles from...
  6. pisces_0

    pisces_0 Well-Known Member

    Totally agree.

    Thanks for the informative thread. It's always fun to see the inner-workings and design elements behind things. Piques the interest of my mechanical brain.
    Screwtape and 9nein9 like this.
  7. 9nein9

    9nein9 El Scratcho

    So do you think it was maybe crimped down on one side to 20 mm? When I took the metal ring off the brush I restored it splayed out more I noticed. I replaced the metal ring with a rubber o ring to seal it water . Very interesting post btw . Thanks for sharing.
    Screwtape likes this.
  8. 9nein9

    9nein9 El Scratcho

    I presume the ring gives it the fuller look with less bristles ??? Correct me if I'm wrong.
  9. jtspartan

    jtspartan appropriately stimulated, via Netflix

    I think it is just a nice look and keeps the knot away from the less durable (compared to metal) wood.
    PickledNorthern and 9nein9 like this.
  10. Screwtape

    Screwtape A Shaving Butterfly

    In this case it's not really a "ring" around the lip of the handle hole but the rim of an entire metal cup that completely encloses the knot. I found the same construction on a cheap Chinese boar brush (except the cup was straight sided and the same diameter all the way down). That leads me to suspect there may be production advantages with it being easier to glue a knot into a small metal cup and then install the rigid cup into the handle rather than mucking with the glue and the knot placement directly in the wood.

    In the long run, the metal cup also prevents any contact between damp or soggy boar hair and the handle wood.
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  11. 9nein9

    9nein9 El Scratcho

    I could see it being a production advantage especially if they use machines or robots for assembly. Could be easier to load bristles into the metal cap that way too and it would be faster and easier to install in handle.Be interesting to see how they are actually made ....
    Screwtape likes this.
  12. blitz

    blitz Member

    good to know. thx for the detective work.
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  13. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    Very interesting article @Screwtape, it certainly does make you wonder about brush makers and how brushes are actually assembled. It helps to illustrate how things like brush density and loft can be affected not just by material, but by how a brush is put together. Thanks for all of your effort. It makes me glad my cheap brush works so well for me and I'm happy with it. :)
    Screwtape likes this.
  14. Screwtape

    Screwtape A Shaving Butterfly

    Thanks, Eddie. I should point out however that I just supplied the brush and then wrote up here Jason's interesting findings. All the actual genuine work and the observation here was done by Jason @jtspartan. Basically, I am just the peanut gallery. :)
    178-bplatoon and Linuxguile like this.
  15. Eeyore

    Eeyore Well-Known Member

    YMMV and such. I don't agree with the assessment of Semogue knots being "softer" than Omega. I think the Omega knots are much better than the Semogue boars. OTOH, Semogue generally has the better handles. So it's just waiting until they start sourcing the knots from Omega

    Pitralon forever - Real pens have a nib - If it doesn't tick, it's not a watch.
    Screwtape likes this.

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