10-23-2018, 02:50 PM
#21
  • pbrmhl
  • Senior Member
  • Seattle
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(10-23-2018, 01:44 PM)Paladin Shaving Wrote: You generally hit a point of steeply diminishing returns in terms of practical function with badger-hair brushes somewhere between $50 and $150, depending significantly on your technique and sensibilities. Beyond that it largely comes down to aesthetic considerations and what a particular brush might signify for your, with factors in that regard for any individual variously including e.g., where it was made, when it was made, how it was made, who made it, what went into making it, etc.

And then there's also just the way you feel -- the satisfaction you take -- when you use a particular brush, the one your hand reaches for. Sometimes you can analyze what accounts for the difference; other times it remains a mystery.

So true.

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 10-23-2018, 04:54 PM
#22
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I have retro brush handles that I did a re-knot with Silvertip knots that cost less than $20.00 that are good as my $100.00 plus LEs.  Name and reputation are certainly a player.  However, I can make a brush for less that $20.00 that will equal a brush costing $100.00 or even $200.00 that you couldn't tell the difference in a blind fold test.  Overall, one can purchase an excellent badger knot for less than $20.00 that will perform as good as the "high end" knots.  If hype, name, and reputation are important then the price is not a player.  But, you have to understand that manufacturers have facility, employee, insurance, purchase, etc costs that are inside the brush cost.  Personal likes and desires are the bottom line.

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 10-23-2018, 09:52 PM
#23
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(10-23-2018, 04:54 PM)LookingGlass Wrote: Overall, one can purchase an excellent badger knot for less than $20.00 that will perform as good as the "high end" knots. 

Can you mention a few places where I could follow this up....I have a handle whose know is rapidly deteriorating....If I could put in a new knot
that would be great. Im looking for  allow budget option and Im willing to post the handle to the workshop. Thanks

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 10-24-2018, 10:28 AM
#24
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
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(10-22-2018, 05:28 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote: Hair grade and density, hand tied knot vs machine tied knot, moulded vs machine-turned (CNC, copy lathe or other) vs hand-turned handle, handle material (not all resins are equal), and so on and so forth... and to some extend you will be paying for the brand in some cases.

Can a cheap brush lather as well as an expensive one? Most likely, yes.

Is an expensive brush worth the extra cost? YMMV, but a lot of wetshavers seems to think so.

I own two (2) badger brushes; a Wilkinson sword I bought in Spain for 6.25€, and a Artisania Romera Manchurian Badger that I don't want to think about how much costs... the expensive brush is head and shoulders above the cheap one when it comes to face feel.

There are many factors to be sure.  WW cites some good ones; there are, however, many others--most of which are never seen (nor should they be) outside the brush maker's business.  The maker's skill is certainly key both from the knot and the handle-making perspectives.  And there's a LOT more.  To mention just a few:  the modern sole proprietor must, first of all, be a master designer (how many "interesting" handle designs do we see floating around?)  Then s/he must be able to faithfully render his/her designs on the lathe--AND be able to faithfully repeat those designs (no small task, I assure you.)  If he does not make his own knots, he must identify and negotiate with a plethora of Chinese makers until the right one(s) is/are found.  (Example:  we've spent well into four figures on knot "discovery" alone.) Handle materials.  Again, finding the ones that will sell--and maintaining sufficient inventory to meet anticipated demand demands much time, money and storage space. (Example:  we maintain over $10k in resin inventory at any one time.) Then, he must be master product photography and post-camera processing.  (Again, no mean feat given (hopefully!) highly-reflective surfaces.)  If he engraves/stamps logos/provenance on his brushes, a whole new level of skill and cost factors enter the equation.  (That can run from a few thousand dollars for "simple" pad printing equipment and supplies, and well into five figures when laser engraving is considered.)  There's more, but I think I've made the point.  And that's only the "technical/production" side.

Now there's the business side:  building/maintaining a website (not only the technical aspects, but also writing compelling catalog copy, etc.), marketing (FB, Forums, Email marketing, et al.), Accounting/Bookkeeping, Order tracking (you want to be sure you get the brush(es) your order), and--oh yes(!):  answering emails/private messages (et al.)  (Our computer tech says ours is one of the largest files of saved emails he's ever seen.)  Time involved:  figure 70-80 hours/week, minimum.  Again, I could go on....

And finally, there are the little things like paying the mortgage, buying groceries, feeding the dog (for anyone not familiar:  our 70lb Labradoodle, Gus likes his dinner Shy ), etc.

A larger organization like Mark's also has buildings to maintain, employees to pay, distributors to manage....

Now, lest anyone get the wrong impression, Nancy and I, like (I suspect) most of our friends in this business love it!  (Take it from a guy who negotiated Fortune 500 hallways for nevermindhowmany years,)

Now those are some of the facts of life from where Nancy and I sit; but the real question, as Mark points out, is one of perceived value:  is a Simpson, Shavemac, Paladin, M&F/Sears (et al.) brush worth the extra coin?  Short answer:  It's all in what the purchaser likes.  And that, my friends, is what makes things so interesting. 

Enjoy!!!

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 10-24-2018, 10:55 AM
#25
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It's really great to have brushmakers weight in on this.  Thank you guys for your perspective.

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 10-24-2018, 01:30 PM
#26
  • Gabe
  • Senior Member
  • Arizona
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Great answers so far. I have had my share of badger brushes ranging from $20 to $200. 

The difference is in the hair- quality, softness, density, attention to detail during manufacturing, etc. On cheaper brushes, sometimes the hairs aren't perfectly shaped. On more expensive brushes, all the hairs are perfectly placed to form a beautiful shape. 

The handle material and manufacturing method is also a factor. On cheaper brushes, the handles feel lighter, but also the finishing touches are not evident. For example, on a Paladin Chief, the area next to the "crease" is sanded and perfectly polished. You can not see any tool marks. You can tell that Ken puts in the time to sand in that small area to remove the tool marks and polishes that tiny area. I have had artisan brushes from respectable brush makers where this is not the case. Still beautiful handles, but in the tiny "hard to reach" places, you can see tool marks. These are difficult to see, but they are there if seen at close range in the right light. They look light a little wave. Polished so they are more difficult to see. Having restored a few brushes, I know its a pain to get in those areas to sand and then polish. 

I think some of the best brushes available are Paladin, Shavemacs, and Thaters. These run about $100-$160. Anything above that and the returns are not there. I don't see knots getting better than these. Paladins are at the higher end at $160, but you are getting a better-finished handle. There is nothing wrong with a $40 brush from a good manufacturer, Stirling and Maseto come to mind. These give you the most bang for your buck. 

You mentioned Silvertips. The best 3 band Silvertip is a Shavemac or Thater. These are as soft and luxurious as they get.  I would recommend a Shavemac as you can customize your brush to a certain extent.

The best answer is if you enjoy using the brush. If you get pleasure from using a brush, then it is worth it.

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 10-24-2018, 01:51 PM
#27
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A $200 brush doesn't shave four times better than a $50 brush.  However, to some, a $200 brush is four times more enjoyable than a $50 brush.  

High end brushes are worth their price for many of the reasons which have been stated in this thread.  However, this hobby can be enjoyed at all price levels.

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 10-24-2018, 02:22 PM
#28
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(10-23-2018, 01:44 PM)Paladin Shaving Wrote: You generally hit a point of steeply diminishing returns in terms of practical function with badger-hair brushes somewhere between $50 and $150, depending significantly on your technique and sensibilities. Beyond that it largely comes down to aesthetic considerations and what a particular brush might signify for you, with factors in that regard (or any individual) variously including e.g., where it was made, when it was made, how it was made, who made it, what went into making it, etc.

And then there's also just the way you feel -- the satisfaction you take -- when you use a particular brush, the one your hand reaches for. Sometimes you can analyze what accounts for the difference; other times it remains a mystery.


Exactly.  It is such a mix of objective factors and subjective, individual tastes.  I have a number of vintage Rooney Finest brushes that are all individually unique and wonderful, and I would not be able to define just why I love each one - but I do.  I paid a fortune for them, and I cannot really justify or rationalize their expense objectively, but to me they are worth every penny.

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 10-26-2018, 02:45 PM
#29
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Good knots can be bought at reasonable prices from various vendors.  IMO, the craftsmanship that goes into the handle makes up a big part of the price difference.  If you want a beautiful handle that you enjoy looking at, you are probably going to pay a pretty penny.

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 10-26-2018, 03:36 PM
#30
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Thank you everyone for the input.

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 10-27-2018, 06:30 PM
#31
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The price   Biggrin

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 11-16-2018, 02:22 AM
#32
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I have had a hankering for a top of the range brush, so bought a Temizel Turkish one for .....£10! Not sure if it is boar or horse hair.. It is very soft, good backbone for lathering hard soaps, and makes fantastic lather and is so soft on my face. Only downside is that it loses a hair each day since I started a week ago. I honestly am at a loss as to see how it could bettered.  Of course, the handle may be a bit rougher.

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 11-16-2018, 03:07 AM
#33
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(11-16-2018, 02:22 AM)Roy Wrote: I have had a hankering for a top of the range brush, so bought a Temizel Turkish one for .....£10! Not sure if it is boar or horse hair.. It is very soft, good backbone for lathering hard soaps, and makes fantastic lather and is so soft on my face. Only downside is that it loses a hair each day since I started a week ago. I honestly am at a loss as to see how it could bettered.  Of course, the handle may be a bit rougher.

Turkish brushes have gotten expensive then, I bought a couple a few years back that set me back about 2.50USD each... not bad brushes for the price.

You pay for quality, but you also pay for brand and reputation. If it's worth it is up to each and every one of us, but the last brush I'll give up is my expensive artisan badger... make of that what you want.

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 11-16-2018, 05:30 AM
#34
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
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(11-16-2018, 02:22 AM)Roy Wrote: I have had a hankering for a top of the range brush, so bought a Temizel Turkish one for .....£10! Not sure if it is boar or horse hair.. It is very soft, good backbone for lathering hard soaps, and makes fantastic lather and is so soft on my face. Only downside is that it loses a hair each day since I started a week ago. I honestly am at a loss as to see how it could bettered.  Of course, the handle may be a bit rougher.

It sounds like a top of the range brush to me.  I mean that sincerely.  Why?  Because I firmly believe that one's best/favorite brush is the one we like the most regardless of any idiosyncrasies it might possess.  Case in point (shifting focus slightly):  my favorite razor is an NOS 13/16 ERN I bought through the bay for well under $100 maybe 2 1/2 years ago.  It isn't the prettiest razor in my collection, but it does combine all of what I like about open blade razors and, at least to this point, has never failed to deliver a superb shave.

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 11-17-2018, 10:30 AM
#35
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(10-23-2018, 04:54 PM)LookingGlass Wrote: I have retro brush handles that I did a re-knot with Silvertip knots that cost less than $20.00 that are good as my $100.00 plus LEs.  Name and reputation are certainly a player.  However, I can make a brush for less that $20.00 that will equal a brush costing $100.00 or even $200.00 that you couldn't tell the difference in a blind fold test.  Overall, one can purchase an excellent badger knot for less than $20.00 that will perform as good as the "high end" knots.  If hype, name, and reputation are important then the price is not a player.  But, you have to understand that manufacturers have facility, employee, insurance, purchase, etc costs that are inside the brush cost.  Personal likes and desires are the bottom line.

Funny thing is I have the same opinion as you of what a great shaving brush is all about. I have many big name brushes: Simpson, Thater, Plisson and more and lots of old handles to re-do. IT took me a long time to find a supplier with the most superior silver tip knot I've been able to get my hands on. IT also took some time to find the handle shape that simply appeals to me the most. The knot I finally settled on a my favorite is slightly more than $20 and worth every penny many times over! And, with the right individual- favorite form old handle, nothing I have purchased and used is better IMHO. There is a certain face feel and lather making ability that is very hard to describe or even to get to so easily. Many high end brushes get there but not all and not all consistently. And then there is the favorite handle issue. Hair quality, density of the knot, and Loft all come in to play for anyone's favorite shaving brush. At least they should? But, Heck most people out there could use a nylon paint brush to create lather and be satisfied!

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