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A Brush Tale – Ersatz Victory

Although I’m new to wet shaving I’ve already collected 5 brushes and sense many more will follow. After all who can resist those shiny, bright, resin swirls or beautiful natural woods? One of the first things I read upon discovering B&B was the expertly written “B&B Guide to Shaving Brushes”. Figuring badger was the way to go, and Silver Tip was the best, I promptly ordered a Silver Tip Badger Parker Brush with a beautiful chrome handle on Amazon for $65.

I’m a bowl latherer, and somewhat surprisingly I immediately had real difficulty getting my lathers to look anything like what I was seeing in SOTD photos. Two mistakes were obvious, although a beautiful shiny silver bullet, the brush was a bit heavy at 142g, and secondly the knot was only 20mm. I suspected part of the problem could also be my bowl as I was using a metal mixing bowl as I awaited my large Cayuen Dark Nebula to arrive. But something I heard in a video about lathering from Peter Charkalis of Ariana & Evans caught my attention and kept nagging me. Peter was about to start the demonstration with a synthetic brush, which he said was so much easier to use than natural brushes, then realized it might send the wrong message and switched over to badger. He proceeded to whip a luxurious lather with the badger.

I couldn’t make the Parker brush work, so one day while in Pasteur’s in midtown NYC I came across a Razorock BC Silvertip synthetic quietly minding its own business on a dusty shelf and grabbed it. When I used it the next morning I was amazed as the lather exploded from my Stirling puck. As Mark Szorady says, “Boom, Lather!”. That was it for me, I added a Yaqi Ocean, which I also saw in one of Mark’s videos, and pretty much knew that I was a synthetic guy. Of course, I have full respect for badger and boar lovers. YMMV.

But the Yaqi and the Razorock didn’t slake the thirst of my Brush Acquisition Disorder. As wonderful as they are, I wanted a brush with a custom handle. One with a beautiful resin pattern that I could be proud of as a work of art in its own right. I set my sites on Grizzly Bay, owned by John Williams, who only releases a few new items each week, and nabbed what I think is a unique beauty. I don’t know the genesis of how or why, but if you want a fully assembled brush from John the only option is a Fanchurian natural badger knot, which as far as I know is made by Chisel&Hound. Both Grizzly Bay and Chisel&Hound are highly regarded master artisans so although I have a preference for synthetics figured these guys must know something I don’t and decided to go with the Fanchurian.

Well, the brush arrived and it was indeed a thing of splendor. That said, whether due to my own inexperience or some other reason when it came to building a lather, simply said, “this dog won’t hunt”. Yes, it made some lather. But doing so was a chore and I couldn’t achieve the results of my synthetics. I resolved to swap out the Fanchurian for a synthetic.

I reached out to the members of the excellent Facebook group, Shave Dads, run by Jerry Plesi, for suggestions on a synthetic knot. Of course, APShaveCo came up due to their close approximation of badger knots. But something one member said resonated with me. He said, “I want my synthetics to feel like synthetics…and if I want the knot to behave like badger…I’ll use an actual badger knot.” He recommended knots from Turnnshave (Quartermoon, Boss) and Maggards (Timberwolf). I figured I would try multiple knots and bought a 26mm Titanium and Pure Bliss SHD Premium from APShaveCo and a 26mm Timberwolf and Synth Badger from Maggards.

I had watched a Youtube video about how to remove a knot from a handle by steaming it in a pot on the stove which worked like a charm, with the Fanchurian popping right out. When the new knots arrived, I wanted to test them before fixing one in place. I simply stuck each into the handle and partially held the bottom of the knot with my hand while I worked up a lather. It worked.

The APShaveCos truly did approximate the performance of badger, which is to say that after much effort the lather they produced was watery and weak. Conversely, the Maggard knots whipped up thick, rich, cream with minimal effort. What was clear was that the fibers of the Maggards seemed to load the soap into the fibers of the knot much more easily than a natural badger or the APShaveCos. Then once in the bowl, the lather puffed up much more easily. In addition, when applying the cream to my face, the super soft bristles of the Maggard allowed me to paint the lather on more smoothly and with more accuracy than the others. Of the two, the Timberwolf seemed to perform slightly better, and the color also seemed a better match for my handle. With a dab of Gorilla Glue Epoxy my Grizzly Bay Timberwolf was born. The pride of my collection.

Well, that was my journey. In the end, the a $12.95 knot from Maggards beat out knots twice as expensive from APShaveCo and probably even more expensive from Chisel&Hound. To each his own. Go figure. Here she is….
 

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You put in the hard yards! Congrats on finding a beautiful combo that delivers what you were seeking. That handle is a work of art.
 
Just a quick update. Bobby Moffett, the owner of Sawdust Creations Studios, streamed a live turning of a new brush handle the other week on the Shave Dads group on Facebook. Bobby is a master craftsman and generously answered questions from the audience as he brought the brush handle to life. Well, I couldn't resist and snapped it up as soon as the show ended. I told Bobby I prefer synthetics and he recommended the G7 from Frank Shaves. I think Bobby was spot on, the G7 is fantastic and is now my favorite knot. It has just enough backbone and is just the right size for my needs. Needless to say, my Sawdust Creations Studio is now my favorite and has occupied the largest slot in my rotation. Here she is.....

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Just a quick update. Bobby Moffett, the owner of Sawdust Creations Studios, streamed a live turning of a new brush handle the other week on the Shave Dads group on Facebook. Bobby is a master craftsman and generously answered questions from the audience as he brought the brush handle to life. Well, I couldn't resist and snapped it up as soon as the show ended. I told Bobby I prefer synthetics and he recommended the G7 from Frank Shaves. I think Bobby was spot on, the G7 is fantastic and is now my favorite knot. It has just enough backbone and is just the right size for my needs. Needless to say, my Sawdust Creations Studio is now my favorite and has occupied the largest slot in my rotation. Here she is.....

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I've been experimenting with the FS synthetics. (G5, G7, G8, G9, PurTech). They also have a mixed badger/synthetic that I really like (and may be a gateway drug for OP). So far, I like the 7 and 9 best, but I really like my badgers, too. The Pur_Tech reminds me of the Muhle STF, the G9, an upgraded Pur-Tech. The 5 reminds me of the AP G5A, the 7 of the G5C. If anything, the 8 reminds me of the AP Pure Bliss but softer.
 
I've been experimenting with the FS synthetics. (G5, G7, G8, G9, PurTech). They also have a mixed badger/synthetic that I really like (and may be a gateway drug for OP). So far, I like the 7 and 9 best, but I really like my badgers, too. The Pur_Tech reminds me of the Muhle STF, the G9, an upgraded Pur-Tech. The 5 reminds me of the AP G5A, the 7 of the G5C. If anything, the 8 reminds me of the AP Pure Bliss but softer.
@Stikeyoda I'm curious, are you a face or bowl latherer. I ask because I have a theory that badger might be preferred by face latherers because of its better ability to splay the fibers. So far, I've been a bowl latherer. But every once in a while I attempt a face later, so far with very little success.
 
@Stikeyoda I'm curious, are you a face or bowl latherer. I ask because I have a theory that badger might be preferred by face latherers because of its better ability to splay the fibers. So far, I've been a bowl latherer. But every once in a while I attempt a face later, so far with very little success.
Both, actually. It depends on time and attitude (bowl when I am into the experience, face when I am just getting it done). As to whether badger/synthetic bowl/face, it is brush dependent on the knot and how the knot was set. I find my Pure-Bliss is better at bowl than face, but is still fine for a face lather. For badger, it often is a function of how it was processed. Take the Oumo Ace A-1 and the Lotus Manchurian LM-1. Bother are 2 band badger but processed differently. You have to work to get lather in a bowl with the LM-1 but is a wonderful feel on the face. The A-1 quickly generates lather. Their Emperor series silvertips literally explode lather in a bowl. based on what you appear to like, I would suggest you look at the Boti N3C knot. Oumo has an ST1 that I like but they are about to release an ST2 that I have high hopes for. Personally I find boar is the master bowl lather generator but I generally do not like the face feel. Natural horse is a great face lather experience as is the Cashmere synthetic.

Welcome to BAD :c1:
 
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