10-05-2014, 06:42 PM
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How do I know if a brush has a good backbone. How do I know if a brush is good for bowl lathering or face lathering(and for cream or soaps)? Does it have to be longer(long handle,loft wide knot) for cream and bowl? And shorter for soaps and face? There is still a lot of confusion.

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 10-05-2014, 07:23 PM
  • Giorgio
  • Senior Member
  • Pennsylvania, US
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The best advice I can give is to go ahead and buy a good all around brush (the Duke 3 comes to mind) and use that standard to fine tune your next purchases to emphasize the qualities that you like or eliminate the ones you don't. And a D3 will have no problem selling on BST, so it's low risk IMO.

Good luck in your quest!

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 10-05-2014, 07:33 PM
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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I can face or bowl lather with any of the brushes that I own. Generally, a longer handle and a higher loft is easier for bowl lathering. It's just easier to get the longer handle down into the bowl, and it's easier to whip up the lather with a higher loft, just as it's easier to crack the whip with a longer whip than a shorter whip, so to speak. However, a higher loft would generally mean that the knot would be "floppier", fine for bowl lathering, but not "stiff" enough or with enough backbone to face lather. A knot of a given size and of a given loft will have more backbone or stiffness if the knot is very dense (more hair or fibers in a given sized knot). Therefore, there are many variables in choosing a brush and knot. You won't get it figured out intellectually, and you will just have to start using them until you find what works for you. This also applies to everything else in shaving, whether it be razors, blades, soaps, etc. I would start with around a 24mm knot with a 52mm loft, a good starting point for both face and bowl lathering, and go from there.

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 10-05-2014, 11:13 PM
  • ben74
  • Senior Member
  • Perth, Australia
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While there are brushes that exhibit backbone and those that don't, I don't prescribe to the notion that any brush is particularly better than another in terms of face lathering versus bowl. Handle shape does have an impact on the convenience of bowl lathering, with a longer handle often being better suited to the task, especially if working in a deep or narrow vessel. Really it comes down to personal preference IMHO. However, the general trend seems be this:

-2 band generally displays greater backbone and seems to be favoured for face lathering.
-Both face lathering and good backbone currently appear to the dominate preferences in the shaving community.
-3 band generally displays less backbone and greater splay.
-Higher density generally aids knot integrity.
-Shorter lofts and greater density are associated with less splay and more backbone.
-Longer lofts and less density are associated with splay and floppiness.

In short: the Face lathering trend is for a shorter lofted, denser, 2 band brush with a shorter handle. The Bowl latherers appear to favour longer handles, higher lofts, less density, greater splay and less backbone (all of which can be harder to control on the face than in a bowl). Of course this is just generalisations and there will be ample exceptions. The best way to find out what suits you is to purchase a few different styles and give them a try...

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 10-06-2014, 12:55 AM
  • Jovan
  • Banned
  • Traveling USA
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Alex, have you considered what your preferences are? Do you plan to lather in a bowl, face or both? What type of handle do you like? Once you start listing what you like the purchasing of a brush begins to fall into place. As the prior posters (and subsequent) all are giving excellent advice and guidance. But really start off explaining what you really are looking for in a brush and how you are going to use it. Your first brush will never be perfect, that is why we all have multiple brushes and continue to seek that perfection in a brush. The joy of shaving.

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