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Wald A1 Synthetic Brush

I’m not trying to sell anything here - it’s just a journey of discovery for me - but I thought it might be worth pasting here what Jannik says about the A1 knot on his website. Some of it may be of interest - I didn’t realise that it is hand-tied by him, for example, and he explains why here….

“Why did I decide to make synthetic knots available that I tie myself? I personally have never used a synthetic knot I’m really 100% happy with. No doubt, there are some nice ones out there, but I was curious to see, if I can come up with something that is able to separate itself from knots being mass produced.

Since there are no big secrets that couldn’t be revealed by a quick inspection of this knot, I want to share with you what makes my knot different from others. Firstly, careful handling. Yes, synthetic fibers are industrially manufactured and don't require sorting, but the handling determines the number of fibers that are upside down in the knot. This is equivalent to making badger hair knots. You want to make sure there is no scratch from the coarse base of the fibers. Secondly, my synthetic knots have no glue bump. The reason for the presence of glue bumps are the short fibers that are used to make the knots. The bump is especially prominent in bulb style knots. I was able to source fibers that are longer than the ones that are commonly used by other brush manufacturers. Thirdly, the tying technique. My technique is different from what you would commonly see in mass production which allows me to make very dense knots. This gives me the opportunity to have more freedom regarding the knot construction. Fourthly, I chose to go with thinner fibers than the ones that are mainly used in the synthetic shaving brush market. Those thin and soft fibers paired with my tying technique result in a pretty unique knot.

So how does my synthetic knot feel? First and foremost, it is soft. I observed that the community is divided into two groups. One feels like synthetic knots should imitate badger knots, the other one likes them to be their own thing. I personally think synthetic knots should be their own thing. Intense scrub, scritch or even scratch with synthetic knots always left me quite confused, it just didn't feel right to me. For that reason, my synthetic knot is designed to be really soft with not a lot of feedback on the skin. Also, my knot doesn’t have this overly springy feeling a lot of synthetics have.

The diameter of all A1 knots is 29mm. I decided to make it bigger than my usual 27mm, because otherwise it would have felt too small. The 29mm make it feel more like a 26mm badger knot. Having taken feedback of both the first customers and the wet shaving community into consideration, I decided to offer a fan in addition to the bulb shaped knot. I set the fan knot 2mm lower to make it feel nice and firm and not floppy.”
 
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What about the water retention? The fibers seem straigh, not wavy like the Omega Evo, although is very dense, maybe it hold water well.
It retains water pretty well both inside the knot and at the tips, but the water will still run out of the knot more than a badger and you have to be more careful with water content when you load the brush with soap. I find it doesn’t dry out between passes like other synthetics have for me. The knot takes a lot longer to dry than other synthetics. If I look at the fibres under magnification they are actually a little wavy.

Is there any possibility that a knot like this could be mass-produced like some of the cheaper ones?
I’m sure something similar could be mass-produced. The comments from Jannik that I posted above state why that might not be quite the same as a hand-tied knot, but I guess it would still be very good - perhaps not exactly as dense or as soft, but close, I would think.
 
They make outstanding synthetic brushes.
Yeah. This week I have actually been using some other synthetics that I acquired, just so I can get some better perspective on it and compare and contrast. I am using a new G5C knot, a new Omega Evo 2.0, a Mühle STF that I’ve had for a long time but haven’t used much, and a Blackland because I always had in mind that it was my favourite synthetic (until I got the Wald). I have some others but those four seem like a good comparison group based on what people most like.

Haven’t finished with them all yet but it is certainly showing me how much of a step up the Wald A1 is. Just the effortless ease with which you can splay the A1 is a dramatic difference compared to all of the other synthetics, which range from kinda ok (G5C) to truly unpleasant (Omega Evo) in this respect. I actually found I detest the Omega Evo for many reasons, surprisingly, haha.

The Wald A1 is very different from other synthetics, for sure. I would say it’s now one of my three favourite shaving brushes altogether - the other two being specific badger brushes (I won’t say what brands they are because all badgers are unique and my favourite ones are not the same as others I have from the brands, and my favourite badger brands are not necessarily the ones my favourite individual brushes are from).
 
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