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A "Natural Brush" (Handle & Brush) Appreciation Thread

I've always had a soft spot for wooden-handled shaving brushes. This has, at times, led me to think about concentrating on them alone, as opposed to, say, the ubiquitous resin-handled brush. One reason might be the landfill question that surrounds the decomposition of plastic products, which is sometimes used as a marketing device against the sale of cartridge razors, certain toothbrushes, etc.

By extension, this has led me to wonder about the synthetic-bristle knots that are becoming so popular. They too are made of plastic, leading to questions about their decomposition. Along these lines, a synthetic-bristle knot paired with a wooden or metal handle seems like a contradiction.

So what I'm hoping to start here is a thread for folks to post and discuss the merits of "natural brushes," meaning a natural handle (wood or metal or both) paired with a knot made of natural hair or bristle (at present, this means animal, but it certainly could be extended to vegetable and/or mineral if and when the time comes).

I'll start by posting a pic of my present wooden-handled brush collection, followed by a few comments.

Natural-Brushes-(PS-web-low).jpg


Pictured from left to right:

Semogue boar knot with painted wooden handle;
Vie-Long horse-badger knot with wooden handle;
HJM boar knot with wooden (beech?) handle;
Vie-Long horse knot with wooden (olive) handle;
Niva boar knot with wooden handle;
Semogue badger knot with wooden (olive?) handle;
Vie-Long horse-boar knot with wooden-metal (steel) handle;
Vie-Long horse-boar knot with wooden-metal (steel) handle.

As brushes, all of them have their merits for different reasons and will get the job of lathering done. One thing I will note is that the two Semogue brushes and the Niva brush have metal rings, whereas the HJM brush has a plastic ring. So is the HJM to be ruled out for this reason? I suppose it has to do with how far one wants to take things. I'm inclined to include it in the same way that if one were to consider the base of the other knots as installed and glued into the handles, they probably all involve some sort of plastic compound adhesive. Much the same may apply to the surface lacquering of the handles, polyurethane for example. An extremist might insist upon fish glue for the knots and natural waxes, oils, and pigmentation as to handle treatment.

So given the limitations, there remains a potential range of view. Looking forward to the posts of anyone who might be interested in using and discussing shaving brushes along these lines.
 
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I've thought about that synthetic dilemma quite a few times. Animal hair is a problem to some because of animal cruelty. Plastic synth knots could very well bother those same people because it contributes to junk in a landfill. I guess people get to draw their own line.

I love my Zenith B33. Copper handle, boar bristle knot. It gets the job done, and feels great while doing it!

Is there a waterproof fish glue? I imagine that setting a knot with a water-soluble glue wouldn't work well.

I'm into the idea of using natural oils for finishing and maintaining wooden handles. I use mineral oil for cutting boards and wooden knife and utensil handles, but I think that is a byproduct of refining crude oil. What would be a natural option?
 
I've thought about that synthetic dilemma quite a few times. Animal hair is a problem to some because of animal cruelty. Plastic synth knots could very well bother those same people because it contributes to junk in a landfill. I guess people get to draw their own line.

I love my Zenith B33. Copper handle, boar bristle knot. It gets the job done, and feels great while doing it!

Is there a waterproof fish glue? I imagine that setting a knot with a water-soluble glue wouldn't work well.

I'm into the idea of using natural oils for finishing and maintaining wooden handles. I use mineral oil for cutting boards and wooden knife and utensil handles, but I think that is a byproduct of refining crude oil. What would be a natural option?

Yes, that "synthetic dilemma" is what I mean. For me, a synthetic knot is a justification for using it with a resin handle. I don't know about what "natural" adhesive to use in setting a knot, but as brushes were used quite a ways back, they must have been used then. Maybe someone can mention some as used back in the day.

As for finishing handles, the HJM boar knot with the wooden (beech?) handle shown in the pic I posted above has a fairly bare wooden surface. When it starts to dry out, I give it a coat or two of walnut oil. I've had the brush for over ten years and it has held up nicely this way. Walnut oil is also recommended by Lee Valley for maintaining wooden knife handles.
 
Got a chuckle from me!

I meant what would be a more natural oil option than mineral oil.

I guess if times get really tough, I could wait until the beard gets really oily and use that to finish the handle...

Lemon Oil, Linseed Oil (NOT Boiled), Tung Oil, ect. I use a traditional mix of beeswax, gum turpentine and linseed oil on wooden tools and handles (wooden bodied planes, axe handles, hammer handles, etc) with good success.
 

Phoenixkh

I shaved a fortune
Here's another option for "natural handle" selections: a Bloody Basin Jasper actual stone handle by Bob at Elite Razors. The photo is the best I can get personally but it has a lot of light reflections in the handle. I'm better when it comes to taking bird photos in natural light in a nature preserve. <eg>

Oh... Manchurian High Mountain badger knot.

RE_EliteRazorBrush (2).jpg
 
One reason might be the landfill question that surrounds the decomposition of plastic products, which is sometimes used as a marketing device against the sale of cartridge razors, certain toothbrushes, etc.

This is somewhat anecdotal, but it seems that the environmental push against plastic isn't against all plastic but more specifically single (or very low) use plastic. A plastic handled synthetic brush should last hundreds if not thousands of uses before needing to be retired. While I suppose there are people who are against the use of any plastic, I believe the majority of people who are wanting to limit plastics in the landfills would not be opposed to using it in a tool that will provide many years (if not decades) of service.
 
This is somewhat anecdotal, but it seems that the environmental push against plastic isn't against all plastic but more specifically single (or very low) use plastic. A plastic handled synthetic brush should last hundreds if not thousands of uses before needing to be retired. While I suppose there are people who are against the use of any plastic, I believe the majority of people who are wanting to limit plastics in the landfills would not be opposed to using it in a tool that will provide many years (if not decades) of service.

A point well taken, which is why I used "might" and "sometimes used as a marketing device" as quoted. One cannot exclude plastic entirely. All those records I like to play and the laptop on which I'm typing this post for instance. Rather, I was trying to frame things so as to concentrate on shaving brushes made from "natural" materials here, so as to distinguish them from something that, in essence, still remains largely non-biodegradable. Mostly a way to pare down the variables, and along these lines it would make perfect sense to pair a synthetic knot with a resin handle in wanting to be consistent.
 
Here's another option for "natural handle" selections: a Bloody Basin Jasper actual stone handle by Bob at Elite Razors. The photo is the best I can get personally but it has a lot of light reflections in the handle. I'm better when it comes to taking bird photos in natural light in a nature preserve. <eg>

Oh... Manchurian High Mountain badger knot.

View attachment 1557149

You bring up a good point. This could be expanded to include bone, horn, rubber, etc. as well. Thanks.
 
I have a few wood and “natural” fiber brushes and enjoy using them. I do treat wood handles differently than an acrylic. I baby them.
 

Phoenixkh

I shaved a fortune
I just polished the wood handle Amboyna burl handle synth brush Rudy Vey turned for me... now... I know the synth knot doesn't fit with the thread topic but the polish does.

I used this polish: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KTVJWH6

It darkened the wood a bit but it sure looks even more beautiful now. The wood was just a bit too light for me anyway... now it looks like a fine burl you'd use for guitar inlays.
 
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