First attempt of replacing knots

Discussion in 'Brush Making and Restorations' started by Canadian Mountain Man, Mar 8, 2019.

    Had a couple brushes that I wasn't terribly happy with the knot so thought I'd play around with replacing them. The originals were:
    -Vie Long 14080: Acrylic resin handle & horsehair knot (too skritchy for my tastes)
    -Vie Long 4312: Beech handle & horsehair knot (the knot was getting VERY floppy after a couple dozen uses and holding on to too much lather)
    -Omega 10282: ABS handle & boar knot (nothing wrong with it, just decided it could be sacrificed for the cause)

    I looked on B&B and youtube for methods of getting the existing knots out and the one that appeared the easiest was to boil the brush. In the few videos I watched it appeared as though the knot would almost fall out after being boiled for ~15 minutes. Bravo sierra! I boiled all three brushes for up to 30 minutes each and if anything I think the fibers swelled making the knots tighter.

    The Vie Long with the resin handle tolerated the boiling water without issues. The varnish on the birch handle softened and will need to be complete refinish if I decide to replace the knot. And the Omega ended up with some funky problems on the finish of the handle and it will be trashed.

    I tried to put the brushes in a vise and pulling the knot out with pliers, no luck. Ended up cutting off as much of the knot as possible then drilling out the rest which ended up working but there were a couple of issues. Namely, I wasn't expecting there to be a metal ring around the knots and with the beech handle a 1/2" metal spike sticking up into the knot. I had started with the beech handle and the bit got caught up in the band causing a drill to snap in my handle. Then when removing the rest of the knot the bit bounced off the spike, chowdering up the edge of the well and ended up chipping the chrome off the exterior. You can't really see see the edges if there's a knot installed but it still looks a bit manky.

    For the time being I purchased a fairly inexpensive synthetic knot as a replacement and just used some silicone to secure it in place. Of the three handles its the red/milk resin one I like to most so pleased that its survived. Will likely pick up a proper badger knot and secure it permanently with an epoxy.


  1. malocchio

    malocchio Contributor

    I think you did a great first time modification on these brushes...Time will tell !
  2. ajkel64

    ajkel64 Moderator

    Good first time effort. The Vie Long looks pretty good in the last picture.
  3. Welcome to the club. That's how you learn. About boiling or steaming the knot loose I haven't had success either and have destroyed handles trying. I suspect it works with very old brushes with inferior glue to what is used today.
  4. Thank you gents. And yes, @ajkel64 I agree that black knot against the red handle looks sharp
  5. I've only heard of steaming, not boiling. I think it works best with vintage brushes.

    Your survivor looks great though.
  6. Vintage brushes likely used some type of animal glue as the binding material. Animal glues, such as horsehide glue, can be loosened with heat, moisture and alcohol. Many modern synthetic adhesives are specifically made to be temperature and moisture resistant, so steam or boiling water might not help.

    I dropped a pure badger brush and the knot popped out of the handle. I used Gorilla Glue (original formula) to reset the knot. It polyurethane-based adhesive that is waterproof and temperature resistant. It uses water to activate the adhesive, so you do not have to worry about the knot being perfectly dry before setting it into the handle.
  7. Don’t boil them, steam them. Steam gets hotter than boiling water, mine slipped right out. That being said, nice job. I like that Vie Long.
  8. I've steamed a few knots out of handles and was the easiest removal as well as the cleanest removals. Never heard of boiling so I'm sure that was where the failure happened!! Its no wonder the knots swelled...
  9. EXCELLENT OUTCOME!! Especially for a first effort. :a29::a29:
  10. Graydog

    Graydog Contributor

  11. Graydog

    Graydog Contributor

    My first attempt at steaming
  12. rockviper

    rockviper Moderator Emeritus

    The lunar handle, @Graydog ! Where's Moonbase Alpha?
  13. This was my 1st attempt at steaming and replacing a knot...
    20170202_153859-1.jpg 20170202_155159-1 (640x414).jpg 20180608_090341.jpg
  14. LOL.
    I thought your avatar pic had gotten a hold of it!
  15. Thank you for the additional comments!

    Crikey! That brush has leprosy [​IMG]


    An update to the original post and the project wraps up.

    My original description of "boiling" the brushes was a poor choice of words and not entirely accurate. For the first attempt I placed a coffee mug on top of cast iron plate that sat in the bottom of a Dutch oven and with ~1.5" of water. Steamed all brushes one at a time first checking after 15 minutes to get the knots out and then every 5 minutes to a total of 30 minutes each. None of the knots would even budge. I believe that metal ring with the Vie Longs steaming would never be effective.

    After the steaming failed I did boil the Omega for about an hour total and as previously mentioned I think it made the knot tighter.


    The silicone I used as a temporary adhesive was also a fail. Even after letting it cure for a few days it still hadn't set. Some of the schmoo did make it into the bristles but after a thorough washing got it all out.

    The well was quite deep and would have left a ~50mm gap between its bottom & the base of the knot. First attempt to fill the excess void was high temperature hot glue. Seemed like it worked fine as it held the knot for me to get in a couple of test shave and then just fell out. 2.JPG

    Second attempt was to use the same epoxy I planned to use to permanently secure the knot, that seems to have worked much better. After 24 hour curing I went at it with a gasket pick and it wasn't going anywhere.

    Securing the knot was straight forward enough although I did add slightly too much epoxy which oozed out a bit. Some methanol cleaned it up easy enough. Can see a bit of it in the final product but I'm not going to worry about it.

    The previous plan of getting a real badger knot has been shelved. The performance of the brush during the test shaves was quite good and I really do like the contrasting white/red/black so thats how its going to stay.

    Note: The foul looking Dutch oven isn't from the kitchen. Its something of a crucible/melting pot that I use in the workroom and not for food. And mug had just been used to heat some potato goulash in the microwave and not yet cleaned and not the condition it was in when I used it with the brushes.
  16. How old was your brush I have one that is 3 years old can I steam the knot out thanks cowboy
  17. 3 days, 3 years, 3 decades, it doesn’t matter. Steam it out if you’re not happy with it.
  18. great project update. Nice workshop too

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