12-12-2017, 08:54 AM
#21
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thanks!

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 12-12-2017, 10:31 AM
#22
  • Puma
  • Active Member
  • Central Jersey
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(12-11-2017, 07:43 PM)Urolex Wrote: Those of you on here who know me know of my affinity for Paladin brushes.  I had a unique opportunity over Thanksgiving weekend that I thought I’d share.

 I met my wife in Kansas City over 10 years ago when I lived there for residency.  We’ve since moved away, but travel there often to visit her family.  As soon as we booked our flights to KC for Thanksgiving, I immediately reached out to Ken, owner of Paladin Shaving, and asked if I could visit his workshop.  I had mentioned this to him in a previous email over a year earlier, but life and work had always seemed to get in the way.  Ken responded and agreed to have me visit.  In fact, he invited my directly to his home.
I arrived around lunchtime on Saturday and was greeted by his lovely wife, Pam, at the door.  She immediately invited me in as if I were kin.  Ken was inside along with his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter who were visiting from Wichita.  I felt horrible for imposing such a trivial request during what was obviously great family time, but they were more than happy to have a visitor.
After a lovely conversation with his family, he took me downstairs to his den.  I immediately recognized the family pool table and couldn’t help but grin.  Off the basement was what I could only describe as a lab/wet shaving mancave.  There were too many knots to count, numerous handles, and machines that seem strange to be in someone’s home.  To the side was a bench with brushes that had literally been split in half-their knots and glue inspected in an autopsy-like fashion.  I saw the numerous Churchill LE handles awaiting their knots.
He spent nearly an hour describing his work, what it means to him and how it all began.  He talked about Cody and his gift with laser engraving.  I felt foolish asking him “why” he decided to do this because his answer was eerily similar to many people who discover their passion.  He didn’t really have an “a-ha” moment per se, but rather a series of events and conditions, mixed with the right people, that allowed him to go down the rabbit hole.  He candidly discussed how much personal investment he had sacrificed to start the operation--and it is jaw-dropping.  However, I got the sense that regardless of return, it is money well-spent for him.
We then walked towards the room where he takes pictures of the brushes prior to a release.  On the way, a microscope sat with a single badger hair displayed on the monitor.  I’d have to guess that the hair was magnified at least 100x, maybe more.  Ken stopped and peered at the hair.  He discussed his knots and their attributes, as well as knots that he didn’t use and his reasons for doing so. 
After looking at what appeared to be a professional photography set-up, we then got in his truck and drove about 5 minutes down the road to his workshop where the handles are cut and turned.   It was a rather unassuming building that had previously served as a medical research facility.  His workshop was one of many tenants that have now re-purposed the space.  We parked near the back and entered through a side door.  He showed me his office and directly across from it, the workshop. 
There were rolls and rolls of different patterns.  Everything from butterscotch to Krakatoa.   I even noticed a few ebonites.  Once inside the workshop, I quickly realized that it was built single-handedly by Ken.  There  was no wasted space.  There were computers everywhere, many disassembled with wiring exposed, yet still functional.  There were schematics lying about, the kind you’d imagine seeing in an architecture firm or a physics lab.  Lining the work benches were broken handles, chipped handles, etc.  He described them as mistakes that served as lessons rather than failures. 
I watched as he cut and turned a single handle.  I guess with all the equipment and the flood of pics we see on TSN (or the various other boards and FB pages prior to a release) that I just assumed it was a fast, automated process.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  He spent over 30 minutes turning a single handle to get it to a level that would acceptable to send to Oregon for Cody to polish and engrave before returning it to KC for knotting.  
As a member of the community, as spoiled as we are, it was still a very, very rewarding experience.  To see the process up close was both fascinating as well as humbling.  I, for one, always imagined Paladin to be a large operation with multiple employees.  Well, it’s not.  It’s a father and son, aided by his wife, working in tandem with a thousand miles between them.  I left awestruck in knowing what a single man built by just following his passion.  He didn’t ask me to write this, nor did I receive anything for doing so.  I’m just a fan.  I couldn’t help but share my experience and the new-found respect I have for my favorite brush maker.[Image: mWs3aQf.jpg]

Great write-up. Like others, I am jealous.

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 12-12-2017, 10:53 AM
#23
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Great read, I enjoyed this very much.  Cheers :-)

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 12-12-2017, 07:56 PM
#24
  • EricM
  • Senior Member
  • Encinitas, CA
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Damn!!!  I need a Paladin brush STAT!!!!

Great write up!  

It's so cool to peek behind the curtain like see and see how this family run operation makes such cool brushes for us!  Thanks for sharing.  What a fun experience!

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 12-12-2017, 11:02 PM
#25
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Fantastic write-up. Ken is a genuinely nice person. I’ve seen this on so many different occasions that it doesn’t surprise me that he’d make the time for you.


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 12-16-2017, 03:34 PM
#26
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Enjoyed reading of your experience. Thank you for sharing.


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 01-06-2018, 03:13 PM
#27
  • Gabe
  • Senior Member
  • Arizona
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Excellent write up Kevin. I enjoyed reading about your trip.

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 2 hours ago
#28
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Great write up and thank you for doing it. I will be getting one of those brushes in the near future.

Clayton

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