09-04-2012, 08:57 PM
#1
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Not sure if this is the right place, feel free to move it mods.

Excerpt from the longer article: The Difference Between High End and Low Cost Brushes

There is much interest in this topic from wet-shaving newcomers and veterans alike. In addition, there is just as much vehemont and vociferous opinions one way or the other. This article’s goal is to lay out the differences objectively and give a solid reason for the wildly varying price differences among seemingly similar brands. While this article will not go into specific details about why company A’s brushes cost $350, while company B’s brushes only cost $45, this article will explain to you the factors that go into the pricing of a brush. Factors both tangible and intangible, such as handle material, hair quality, and brand name recognition.


This article is split into the following sections: handles, hair knots, labor costs & quality control, research & design, and “good will.” The article will conclude with a section on where to find the true “hidden gems.”

The Handle


The handle is an often overlooked aspect of a shaving brush. In many cases, the handle design and materials represent the only difference between two brushes. The handle itself can cost more or as much as the knot. There are two ways in which handles are made out of the various materials used: lathe turned or molded. While construction by hand is possible, it is not practical for large scale operations.

Lathe v. Injection Molded

The simple truth is that lathe turned brushes require more labor and much more time. Even if a CNC lathe is used. The more labor used, the more a handle costs, and time is labor. It is simply much faster and easier to make molds and produce many handles in a given timeframe vs. a few if turned by lathe. Human operation of a lathe will also introduce inconsistencies from handle to handle, no matter the skill of the operator. Some of these inconsistencies are thrown out, adding to the cost.

Lathe turned handles are also extremely wasteful as much of the mateirla is discarded as waste. A brush handle starts off as a cylindrical rod. Material is then removed from the cylinder using tools until the desired shape is formed. Not only is this practice more costsly in terms of unused product, but the actual rods cost more per handle than a molded handle of the same exact type of material.

Some materials, and all natural materials known to this author, require a lathe to be used in handle construction because a cylinder or a block is the only form the material comes in. Some handle designs must be molded due to the squared sides. See Thater handles.

From a performance standpoint, there is no advantage to a lathe turned handle vs. a well made molded handle. While lathe turned handles are generally made from better materials, there is nothing preventing molded handles to be made from the same acrylic resin material. That said, there are some limits to the lips & edges a mold can produce reliably. See Simpsons Chubby.

Where lathe turned handles make the most sense is in micro manufacturing of a few dozen pieces. In order for a mold to be efficient, hundreds of handles must be produced. Of course, hundreds of handles means more efficiency and an economy of scale.

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 09-04-2012, 10:02 PM
#2
  • Teiste
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  • Salt Lake City,UT
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Thats a very nice article.Thanks a lot for taking the time to write it and post it here.Very interesting.

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 09-05-2012, 05:09 AM
#3
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Thanks for bringing this up. I've always wondered at the extraordinary prices people pay for a brush. Many expensive brands are made by other companies that have less expensive brushes.

It seems to me, other than different ways of making the handle and what the handle is made of, it mostly due to a created brand image and what the market will bear and that people think if they pay more money they are getting a better brush.

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 09-05-2012, 07:18 AM
#4
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Very nice read, thanks Lee! I enjoy my Frank Shaving Finest in a Richmond handle, but that's most likely because it's resin and has good heft to it. I would definitely be unhappy with a lightweight plastic handle.

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 09-05-2012, 07:26 AM
#5
  • slantman
  • Expert Shaver
  • Leesburg, Florida
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I moved this wonderful thread to BRUSHES

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 09-05-2012, 09:43 AM
#6
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(09-05-2012, 05:09 AM)lindyhop66 Wrote: Thanks for bringing this up. I've always wondered at the extraordinary prices people pay for a brush. Many expensive brands are made by other companies that have less expensive brushes.

It seems to me, other than different ways of making the handle and what the handle is made of, it mostly due to a created brand image and what the market will bear and that people think if they pay more money they are getting a better brush.

1. You would be really surprised if you knew what me & Teiste know. Possibly shocked.

2. Correct. But to be fair, acrylic resin handles do cost about 3-5x as much as regular resin handles. Not sure how much more a CNC lathe adds to the cost, but it definitely adds to the cost. That said, you will be extremely hard pressed to find many acrylic resin handles. Off the top of my head, only Simpsons & Plisson comes to mind. Maybe Thater, but I have to double check. But I don't think it was acrylic resin.

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 09-05-2012, 09:57 AM
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I thought all Simpsons were hand-turned on a lathe. Is there information anywhere that says which are hand turned and which are molded or CNC turned?

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 09-05-2012, 10:11 AM
#8
  • Teiste
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  • Salt Lake City,UT
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(09-05-2012, 05:09 AM)lindyhop66 Wrote: Thanks for bringing this up. I've always wondered at the extraordinary prices people pay for a brush. Many expensive brands are made by other companies that have less expensive brushes.

It seems to me, other than different ways of making the handle and what the handle is made of, it mostly due to a created brand image and what the market will bear and that people think if they pay more money they are getting a better brush.

(09-05-2012, 09:43 AM)asharperrazor Wrote: 1. You would be really surprised if you knew what me & Teiste know. Possibly shocked.

2. Correct. But to be fair, acrylic resin handles do cost about 3-5x as much as regular resin handles. Not sure how much more a CNC lathe adds to the cost, but it definitely adds to the cost. That said, you will be extremely hard pressed to find many acrylic resin handles. Off the top of my head, only Simpsons & Plisson comes to mind. Maybe Thater, but I have to double check. But I don't think it was acrylic resin.

Im in agreement with both sentences.

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 09-05-2012, 10:19 AM
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(09-05-2012, 09:57 AM)SharpSpine Wrote: I thought all Simpsons were hand-turned on a lathe. Is there information anywhere that says which are hand turned and which are molded or CNC turned?

http://shavenook.com/thread-interview-wi...m-simpsons

IIRC Mark said they moved to CNC after the buyout, so the Carter brushes should be hand turned. IIRC.

Honestly, it's the better route. Much more consistency, same result, and cheaper when you produce in bulk.

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 09-05-2012, 10:53 AM
#10
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Thanks for the article. Very interesting info.

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 09-13-2012, 08:15 AM
#11
  • Eskimo
  • Artisan & Custom Shaving Equipment
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Very interesting article. While I agree with virtually all the content, I also believe some of the "hidden gems" can be found in a custom-made brush. While they may tend toward a slightly higher cost due to the labor and material, overall the price competitive nature of the marketplace typically keeps them in line with most of the commercial manufacturers. Especially for someone who knows what they want, you can specify the material, knot size & grade, loft and design elements, including size.

Although many find comfort in a "brand name", those who desire to have a brush that is not the same as the masses may want to check out some of the custom work that is available, you might be surprised at the value for your dollar that can be found.

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 09-13-2012, 09:52 AM
#12
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Not really. The custom brush makers will make you the most excellent handle, but the knot they put int it is the same as TGN. If they purchase a D01 knot from Shavemac, the price goes up to pretty much Shavemac quality.

That said, if you consider TGN knots a hidden gem, then we'll have to disagree.

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