03-28-2019, 02:00 AM
#1
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As my experience so far is limited I'd like to access the community wisdom on wood handle brushes.
I'm asking with future purchases in mind, but also because I own one (possibly) vintage brush in mint/new condition with a wooden handle.

Are wooden handles prone to crack or get ruined? I personally love natural materials in general and wood in particular but wood and water tend to not be good bedfellows.
I see posts with references to "some people not liking wood handles" and I'm curious if this is with regard to longevity, ease of maintenance or just personal preference.
Also, are there special considerations I should have regarding the maintenance of my current wood handle brush?

Thanks in advance.

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 03-28-2019, 02:25 AM
#2
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I only have one brush with a wood handle - made it myself, Norwegian spruce (construction lumber), mineral oil and superglue finish, cheap chinese synthetic - and it show no indications of drying out, cracking or other issues. I have no doubt that a wooden brush handle made by someone who knows what they are doing, with better materials and better finish will last a lifetime if looked after.

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 03-28-2019, 02:39 AM
#3
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Queens, NY
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If there’s one you like and want to purchase, do so without hesitation. I have half a dozen wooden handle brushes, the oldest of which is about 5 years old. It has no issues other than it wants to be used more often. Simple maintenance such as drying and buffing after use keeps them looking fresh, and approximately twice a year I massage the handles after use with whatever shea butter remains on my hands post shave.

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 03-28-2019, 04:33 AM
#4
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I wouldn't care that much. I have a few Semogue brushes and all are in perfect condition. Most were bought years ago and I use them regularly.

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 03-28-2019, 05:06 AM
#5
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(03-28-2019, 04:33 AM)nikos.a Wrote: I wouldn't care that much. I have a few Semogue brushes and all are in perfect condition. Most were bought years ago and I use them regularly.

Same here with me.  I too have Semogue wooden handle brushes that a are several years old (some probably older).  No problems.

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 03-28-2019, 07:58 AM
#6
  • u2u
  • Senior Member
  • GTA
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Properly cared for any reasonable wood handle should be fine. For a daily user I would go with a dense wood. In a rotation almost any will suffice. My wood of choice is Desert Ironwood (from Theirs Issard) - natural beauty with most of the performance of modern synthetics. I rinse and dry my wood brushes the same as any other and I never soak any brush. No need for any special treatment. If you live is high humidity environment it might be wise to put a favourite wood brush into a rotation. If you are really worried a coat of Renaissance Wax might help with any OCD tendencies.

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 03-28-2019, 08:33 AM
#7
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I've had no problems with mine. I dry all my brush handles after each use anyway...
First one is an SV, in Ebony. Second is an Elite Razor, Desert Ironwood.
[Image: fxhLsFy.jpg][Image: QRH05J3.jpg]

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 03-28-2019, 10:55 AM
#8
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I have a maple burl set by elite razor (eskimo)  and HIGHLY recommend it.  They are beautiful and have 4 coats of marine grade finishing.

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 03-28-2019, 01:15 PM
#9
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Thanks to everyone for the feedback. 
I shall feel confident to buy wood handle brushes then.

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 03-28-2019, 09:07 PM
#10
  • Nero
  • Senior Member
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(03-28-2019, 02:25 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote: I only have one brush with a wood handle - made it myself, Norwegian spruce (construction lumber), mineral oil and superglue finish, cheap chinese synthetic - and it show no indications of drying out, cracking or other issues. I have no doubt that a wooden brush handle made by someone who knows what they are doing, with better materials and better finish will last a lifetime if looked after.
OMG, Norwegian Wood???!

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 03-28-2019, 09:24 PM
#11
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(03-28-2019, 09:07 PM)Nero Wrote:
(03-28-2019, 02:25 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote: I only have one brush with a wood handle - made it myself, Norwegian spruce (construction lumber), mineral oil and superglue finish, cheap chinese synthetic - and it show no indications of drying out, cracking or other issues. I have no doubt that a wooden brush handle made by someone who knows what they are doing, with better materials and better finish will last a lifetime if looked after.
OMG, Norwegian Wood???!

Ain't it good?  Biggrin

More in this thread: http://shavenook.com/showthread.php?tid=55541

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 03-29-2019, 07:29 AM
#12
  • Nero
  • Senior Member
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How do we pronounce... Solskjaer
Sorry it's off topic but I think the football world is curious.

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 03-29-2019, 01:09 PM
#13
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
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Properly finished in a quality marine varnish, the way Bob Quinn at Elite Razor finishes them (either that or professionally stabilized), wooden handles can be quite nice and very durable.  Desert Ironwood, Mesquite, and Olive wood (to name but a few) can be quite attractive; so I'd have no qualms about adding one to my rotation.  Given care, the knot will wear out before the wood.

Just a couple things to remember:  (1) Wooden handles do expand and contract slightly with temperature changes.  Marine varnishes are specially formulated to handle that movement (think boat decks subject to salt water in northern cold and tropical sun); so no concerns in that regard.  What I would do is avoid any brushes with a CA finish.  Some will debate that statement, but the fact is:  CA's extremely hard/inflexible and will eventually develop micro-fissures that allow water to permeate and discolor/damage the underlying wood.  Back in the day, a few folks asked if we could repair some other makers' CA-finished brushes; but there was really nothing we could do as CA is almost impossible to remove.  (2) Most woods produce a lighter-weight handle than one in (say) resin.  That's not necessarily a bad thing--just something to be aware of.  Some makers will add extra weight in the form of split shot or brass rod stock beneath the knot to increase weight; so if you decide on a wooden handled brush, it might not hurt to ask.

Anyway, I hope some of this helps.

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 03-29-2019, 02:19 PM
#14
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(03-29-2019, 01:09 PM)BSWoodturning Wrote: Properly finished in a quality marine varnish, the way Bob Quinn at Elite Razor finishes them (either that or professionally stabilized), wooden handles can be quite nice and very durable.  Desert Ironwood, Mesquite, and Olive wood (to name but a few) can be quite attractive; so I'd have no qualms about adding one to my rotation.  Given care, the knot will wear out before the wood.

Just a couple things to remember:  (1) Wooden handles do expand and contract slightly with temperature changes.  Marine varnishes are specially formulated to handle that movement (think boat decks subject to salt water in northern cold and tropical sun); so no concerns in that regard.  What I would do is avoid any brushes with a CA finish.  Some will debate that statement, but the fact is:  CA's extremely hard/inflexible and will eventually develop micro-fissures that allow water to permeate and discolor/damage the underlying wood.  Back in the day, a few folks asked if we could repair some other makers' CA-finished brushes; but there was really nothing we could do as CA is almost impossible to remove.  (2) Most woods produce a lighter-weight handle than one in (say) resin.  That's not necessarily a bad thing--just something to be aware of.  Some makers will add extra weight in the form of split shot or brass rod stock beneath the knot to increase weight; so if you decide on a wooden handled brush, it might not hurt to ask.

Anyway, I hope some of this helps.

Brad, your comments about marine varnish versus CA are highly instructive.  The only custom wood brushes I've ever purchased were olive wood and lignum vitae from Bob, and they do have a durable finish.

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 03-29-2019, 02:21 PM
#15
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
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(03-29-2019, 02:19 PM)TheLegalRazor Wrote:
(03-29-2019, 01:09 PM)BSWoodturning Wrote: Properly finished in a quality marine varnish, the way Bob Quinn at Elite Razor finishes them (either that or professionally stabilized), wooden handles can be quite nice and very durable.  Desert Ironwood, Mesquite, and Olive wood (to name but a few) can be quite attractive; so I'd have no qualms about adding one to my rotation.  Given care, the knot will wear out before the wood.

Just a couple things to remember:  (1) Wooden handles do expand and contract slightly with temperature changes.  Marine varnishes are specially formulated to handle that movement (think boat decks subject to salt water in northern cold and tropical sun); so no concerns in that regard.  What I would do is avoid any brushes with a CA finish.  Some will debate that statement, but the fact is:  CA's extremely hard/inflexible and will eventually develop micro-fissures that allow water to permeate and discolor/damage the underlying wood.  Back in the day, a few folks asked if we could repair some other makers' CA-finished brushes; but there was really nothing we could do as CA is almost impossible to remove.  (2) Most woods produce a lighter-weight handle than one in (say) resin.  That's not necessarily a bad thing--just something to be aware of.  Some makers will add extra weight in the form of split shot or brass rod stock beneath the knot to increase weight; so if you decide on a wooden handled brush, it might not hurt to ask.

Anyway, I hope some of this helps.

Brad, your comments about marine varnish versus CA are highly instructive.  The only custom wood brushes I've ever purchased were olive wood and lignum vitae from Bob, and they do have a durable finish.

Glad you found them useful, Ricardo.  And you're right:  Bob does a great job finishing his wooden handles.

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 03-29-2019, 02:29 PM
#16
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Thanks Brad, very good info, all of it interesting.
Funny you mention marine varnish, I had actually thought that it might be the perfect treatment for brush handles.

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