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DIY knot making experiment

I know there's a couple of old threads on the subject but I wanted to talk about an ongoing experiment with making my own horsehair knots.

I love the feel of horsehair, although I mostly only use it to lather up creams as it tends to lack the backbone to really get a lather on a hard soap, and I have an old horse brush I use for that. So I decided to see if I could make my own. I got a hank of horsehair, 1:1 mane to tail ratio, from a place in Ohio. I cut a few chunks around 1" in diameter and about 3.5 to 4" long. To do this, I'd section out about as much as I thought I'd need, and then tie down a couple tight constrictor knots in light twine and cut between them with kitchen shears. I tried shampooing on at this point, but the hair has already been brushed together and shampooing it just makes it tangly. So for future ones I would wait to wash it until it's set in the handle. Interestingly I think this hair has been washed as it doesn't smell very horsey. However the smell of rubber horse stall mats is pretty strong on it.

Once I got my sections, I would trim the butt end as square as I could. I also experimented with dropping them into a copper pipe cap and jogging them down. That works too, then just throw another constrictor or two around it and trim the head like I wanted.

For gluing the hair together, I've tried 3 different approaches. I wouldn't mind hearing other ideas, though, as none of my solutions were perfect. I just left a very tight constrictor around a half inch or less from the end of the knot and glued up to and over it.
  1. Two part epoxy. Doesn't shed much but I had problems with it wicking up the hair shaft in a few places. Plus I absolutely *hate* the smell of it.
  2. CA glue. This one seems the most sheddy. I filled a plastic bottle cap with CA and then just dunked the butt of the knot in it. Very little wicking but as I said, doesn't want to hold.
  3. Silicone. This seems the least sheddy, at least right now, but I have a feeling it's going to continue to shed a little bit at a time.
As I said this is supposedly 1:1 mane to tail, but it seems pretty floppy. When I set these I started with a loft of around 50mm and ended up having to trim it to 45 or less to get a usable brush. Then I spent some time flagging the ends on a piece of 180 grit sandpaper (coarser might actually work better). I set these into the handles with silicone.

So far I've been using the all-silicone glued knot. It's very soft but with just a hint of prickly scritch from the tail hairs. It lathers up a cream in no time. Interestingly, when I use it, a few hairs pop out about a quarter inch, but they don't actually come out when I pull on them. I assume they'll work loose eventually. When I have time I will try lathering a soap with it and see how it does. May need to do the two fingers on the knot trick to give it enough spine.

Two of them I've trimmed into a fan (one pictured below) and one is a bulb but I haven't set it in a handle yet. The handle is a copper press fitting that I patina'd. I have another one that's got a lot more blue in it but I haven't decided what I'm knotting it with yet. You can see the few hairs that have popped up.

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