02-11-2020, 11:30 AM
#1
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
User Info
Gentlemen,

We just received a text from Lee Sabini saying he has enough Blonde Badger to make ~12 knots. While supply lasts, you can order a bespoke Blonde Badger brush on this page.  Just select the Finest Badger option and specify "Blonde Badger" in the Comments section of the order form. 

[Image: 6QDn80q.jpg]

4 1,066
Reply
 02-11-2020, 02:18 PM
#2
User Info
Wow, superb, Brad.

87 6,447
Reply
 02-11-2020, 02:47 PM
#3
User Info
SBAD fiercely enabled

69 2,008
Reply
 02-11-2020, 09:11 PM
#4
User Info
I wanted a M&F brush in the new rosebud handle, and the Blonde badger availability pushed it over the edge.

Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk

5 143
Reply
 02-12-2020, 11:36 AM
#5
User Info
Is there something special about the Blonde Badger knots?   Obviously I don't know.

3 13
Reply
 02-12-2020, 02:58 PM
#6
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
User Info
(02-12-2020, 11:36 AM)PineTopPete Wrote: Is there something special about the Blonde Badger knots?   Obviously I don't know.

First of all, Gentlemen, thank you for your kind words.

Pete,

You ask a tough question simply because knots generally, and badger knots specifically, are so highly subjective.  What one person loves, the next might not.  

That said:  Morris & Forndran knots are classic English knots, hand-tied by a fellow named Lee Sabini in the U.K.  Mr. Sabini ties each knot to fit the handle rather than the other way around, which is the more common approach.  Morris & Forndran knots are fairly dense, so they're not the first I'd recommend for those with sensitive skin.  But because they are largely made to order (ReadyMade being the obvious exception!), the patron does have some latitude to specify desired face feel.

With that preamble, Blonde Badger is a 2-band hair that's one of the rarest and--according to many--one of the more desirable badger hairs currently available.  (My sense (and I'm sticking my neck out here) is that the Rooney Finest of 10-15 years ago and the Heritage hair of roughly 10 years ago, might be more desirable, but who's to say?)

Virtually identical in appearance to the 2-band Morris & Forndran "Finest Badger," current batches of Blonde hair tend to have slightly less backbone and tips slightly less soft than M&F "Finest," which is noted for firm backbone under soft tips.  In short, Blonde hair, in my opinion, makes a very well balanced knot.  (We should also note that the hair used in Morris & Forndran knots tends to be minimally treated compared with many of the knots currently coming out of China, so the tips might not be as white as those on some competing brands. )

Does all of this add up to the "best?"  Here, subjectivity again rears its head.  Many, including I, think so.  But many others will say the same about other makers' knots.  Regardless, Mr. Sabini is one of the most modest men I know--and will never claim his knots to be the best in the world.  I've known and been hand-turning handles for him for almost four years now and can say, from many conversations with him, his knowledge of knot making approaches encyclopedic.

As a little background, which many on this forum already know, Mr. Sabini came to prominence in the early 2000's after he purchased the 200-year old firm of R. A. Rooney & Sons, Ltd. brush makers from the last Mrs. Rooney.   Rooney made shaving brushes on an industrial scale, selling brushes not only under their own name, and also supplying private label brushes for several well-known retailers.  

After selling Rooney, Mr. Sabini (Lee to his friends) resurrected the then moribund Morris & Forndran name in order to make shaving brushes on a much smaller scale using handle patterns he designed, then paid a consultant to refine, while at Rooney.  It's interesting to note that he retained rights to those designs when he sold the company; but that's another story best left to him. (As a side note, Lee tells me his history of his time at Rooney is nearing completion and should soon be available on our website.)

I've probably shared more than you bargained for--and I'm sure others will jump in with their impressions as well.

Just know that if you decide to place an order with us, your custom ("bespoke") brush will receive our complete and undivided attention.

Best regards,

4 1,066
Reply
 02-12-2020, 05:15 PM
#7
User Info
Thanks for all the tidbits of history - it makes for fascinating reading!

36 2,160
Reply
 02-12-2020, 05:17 PM
#8
User Info
Awesome history and although I can only speak for myself, M&F Blonde is in a category unto itself. It’s the perfect balance of scrub.

26 292
Reply
 02-12-2020, 06:27 PM
#9
  • SCOV
  • Senior Member
  • Minnesota
User Info
From Brad's post above - "As a side note, Lee tells me his history of his time at Rooney is nearing completion and should soon be available on our website."

Should be in interesting reading !!

17 968
Reply
 02-12-2020, 09:29 PM
#10
User Info
Thanks for sharing all this Brad, much appreciated!

3 13
Reply
 02-13-2020, 06:06 AM
#11
User Info
Look forward to reading Lee’s account for sure.


~Royce

4 432
Reply
 02-14-2020, 07:20 AM
#12
User Info
In my opinion Rooney Heritage and Finest are more desirable and nothing out there matches it still to this day. Blonde Badger when first introduced was quite close to Rooney Finest, but to me the quality has tapered with time. Still quality hair, just not as good as the first stuff that started coming out. The 3-band I got recently is excellent quality and much like the older 3-band Heritage. It just needs a bit more density to match the older Rooney 3-band Heritage, but I actually prefer the density of this one as it is. Much more conductive to lathering with it.

33 1,008
Reply
 02-14-2020, 08:47 AM
#13
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
User Info
(02-14-2020, 07:20 AM)kooshman7 Wrote: In my opinion Rooney Heritage and Finest are more desirable and nothing out there matches it still to this day. Blonde Badger when first introduced was quite close to Rooney Finest, but to me the quality has tapered with time. Still quality hair, just not as good as the first stuff that started coming out. The 3-band I got recently is excellent quality and much like the older 3-band Heritage. It just needs a bit more density to match the older Rooney 3-band Heritage, but I actually prefer the density of this one as it is. Much more conductive to lathering with it.

Thanks for weighing-in, Joe.  I always enjoy hearing your thoughts.  

You make a good point about the current M&F 3-band ("Super Badger") hair.  I debated about mentioning 3-band hair in my previous post, but decided going down that rabbit hole would have taken the conversation too far afield; so I appreciate your bringing it up.  

I was offered a 3-band Rooney Heritage brush a couple months ago and, at least to my face, that brush is also quite similar to the current M&F 3-band.  The Heritage hair in my brush seems a little finer than the current M&F Super, but the density (at least in my brushes and others I've tested) is similar.  But with only one Heritage brush to compare against, I'm hesitant to generalize.  (Since I believe you might have several Heritage brushes, I'll bow to your assessment!)  

We might also keep in mind that because the custom/bespoke Morris & Forndran brushes are made to order, density can be varied to suit the owner's preference.  

Having said that, I think your comment about density v. lathering is right on target.  There is, as most of us know, a lot of talk about dense brushes, but (IMO) there comes a point where too much is simply too much.  To me, brushes can be too dense.  (I have at least one brush that's so dense, it has next to zero splay.  The tips are soft for sure, but....) 

Finally, Lee and I have had some long conversations about the old Rooney Finest and Heritage hairs.  But that's all I can say about that for the moment.

Thanks again for your comments.

Take care and best wishes for a good weekend!

P.S.  If you'll excuse the blatant commercial plug, we have an M&F Super Badger Knight in ReadyMade that's 10% off for Valentine's Day.

[Image: frpqYbQ.jpg]

4 1,066
Reply
 02-14-2020, 03:23 PM
#14
  • Puma
  • Senior Member
  • Central Jersey
User Info
(02-12-2020, 11:36 AM)PineTopPete Wrote: Is there something special about the Blonde Badger knots?   Obviously I don't know.

I am a huge fan of M&F brushes, especially the newer ones with handles made by Brad. I've had a bunch of Finests, and a few Blondes. So far I haven't had any of the new Super 3 bands, but I really like a good Super/Silvertip, so that will change soon. I also had a Rooney with the Heritage 3 band that Brad mentioned as well as an M&F with that hair. I prefer Finest over Blonde, but both are excellent. Like Brad said already, Blonde is pretty similar to Finest with just a bit less backbone and maybe a little more scrub.

19 1,063
Reply
 02-14-2020, 06:45 PM
#15
  • SCOV
  • Senior Member
  • Minnesota
User Info
(02-14-2020, 03:23 PM)Puma Wrote:
(02-12-2020, 11:36 AM)PineTopPete Wrote: Is there something special about the Blonde Badger knots?   Obviously I don't know.

I am a huge fan of M&F brushes, especially the newer ones with handles made by Brad. I've had a bunch of Finests, and a few Blondes. So far I haven't had any of the new Super 3 bands, but I really like a good Super/Silvertip, so that will change soon. I also had a Rooney with the Heritage 3 band that Brad mentioned as well as an M&F with that hair. I prefer Finest over Blonde, but both are excellent. Like Brad said already, Blonde is pretty similar to Finest with just a bit less backbone and maybe a little more scrub.

I would rate Brad's comments as fairly accurate.  For some people, a big plus.

17 968
Reply
 02-15-2020, 11:05 PM
#16
User Info
Thanks Brad, I appreciate that. I’m just one opinion, and there are those out there with more experience. I have quite a few still, and have sold some. The hair for both Finest and 3-band Heritage typically were thinner. That was part of what enabled them to be so dense. They had something in the tips that couldn’t quite be defined. Then you have batch variations giving enough separation to have their own distinction but still be from the same grade. Sometimes the hair goes up in grades so to speak. I’ll use my brushes as an example. 

[Image: kYgGJQD.jpg]

L to R: Rooney 3/3 Finest, M&F Finest Victorian, M&F 1/3 Finest, Rooney 1/2 Finest, Rooney 2XL 2-band Heritage, M&F Stubby 3 Blonde Badger, Rooney 1XL 2-band heritage. 

The 3/3 has exceptionally soft feeling tips thanks to the loft. The tips themselves are the softest I’ve experienced in a Rooney Finest. Splay is kept down thanks to a large glue bump. No gel. No Finest from Rooney ever had that from the ones I’ve experienced. Churchhillafemme would be the best to ask if there’s any that exhibit that with his extensive collection of Rooney Finest. 


The M&F Victoria is like a cross of Finest and 2-band Heritage gel. There’s some backbone like Finest, it’s thin like Finest, but gets some gel to it when wet. A bit too slimy for me, and not what I associate with gel tips. 

The 1/3 M&F is actually quite close to a finest. Not enough density but when dry it is scarily reminiscent of Rooney Finest, and I would estimate it stays there about 70%. It gets soft tipped like it’s going to gel but doesn’t thankfully. For me personally gel tip is not my thing, and is the easiest turn off for me. Even when done right it isn’t my everyday preference but have come to accept it more. 

The 1/2 Rooney Finest is more to my memory of my first ever Finest, a 3/1. The tips have more of that presence that makes it feel like a Finest, with extreme backbone. Knot shape is fine and not pointy. I had a 1/2 close to this in the past that was too pointy. That one had more scrub and scritch. Having expanded my sample size of Finest I realize not all are super scritchy like my first 3/1.

The 2XL Rooney 2-band Heritage is another anomaly I got to experience. This one gets soft tips and tries to gel like the last one, but it does so differently. The handle size and larger knot complement each other well and so glad I got to experience this one. This would probably be my preference right out of the box for a gel tip brush, but it’s not my defining example of a true gel tip. A well beloved variance however. It’s possible there is one brush close to what this is. The hair on this one funny enough is finer than my other 2-band Heritage. 

The Stubby 3 Blonde isn’t as good as the first 1/2 M&F I got when it was first introduced. It comes fairly close, and which all Blondes were even as good as this. The old 1/2 M&F I had I estimated close to 80% of Finest while reducing the scritch Finest had. That brush was well worth the hype it received and went to show the grade had a place of its own. This one sort of a combination of Heritage and Finest. The hair isn’t as thick as the first 2-band Heritage, but not as fine as Finest. The tip feel starts to veer into feeling like a Finest while maintaining some a heritage feel with no gel. It’s excellent as is and does a good job of reminding me of a 2-band Heritage Stubby 1 I had when they first released. 

The true successor to my Stubby 1 is the Rooney 1XL. This brush has the same hair as 2-band Heritage had when it first released. I think it was SliceOfLife that wrote up a review of that that started it off, and does a much better job of describing it. The hair has a crunchy feel to it when dry, but when wet it clumps up and forms peaks and gets softer. Almost like a slime, but that does it a disservice to call it that as it doesn’t feel gross. Some brushes can get too close to that unfortunately. Throughout it backbone doesn’t suffer. Its such a unique face feel like the other top tier Rooney grades. This is my standard bearer when talking of a gel tipped brush. 

[Image: aO8jZpW.jpg]

For 3-band, L to R:

Vintage 3/3? Rooney Best, current M&F L7 3-band Super (It’s heritage), Rooney Emillion, Rooney Highlander? Horn, G.O.S.H. LE, Rooney 2/1 Silvertip

I believe the vintage one to be a 3/3. It resembles it quite closely. This is labeled Best, but I consider it heritage. The hair quality is right up there, and actually a bit finer. It has a large glue bump. Density wise it’s behind the Emillion and Horn a bit, but still well packed. The glue bump gives it a similar backbone. 2nd softest tips. G.O.S.H. Is the best. Both of them are like Shavemac 3-band DO1 density and backbone with 3-band silvertip of the softest kind. Some Shavemac Silvertips I have had have unbelievably soft tips. 

Rooney Emillion - This brush was my density king for the longest time, or a model like it. I have some others now that can compete, but not sure if they overtake it. Stupidly I sold my first one, but got another very much like it a few years back. That doesn’t happen often. Very much like a super charged 3-band D01. Thin hair, stronger backbone in the shaft, some scrub in the tips but not harsh. I liken it to a good massage on earth. Finest that is scritchy is like a facial massage from angels. For me it feels that good. 

Rooney Horn - Denser than the Emillion, and that is no easy feat. Bear in mine not all Heritages were super dense as these. The Victorian and Alibabas had less, but still considerably more than most brands when they were released. Both have a decent glue bump promoting that extreme dense feel. This one is like the Emillion I first had when it came out. That happened not even a year in around April 2009 when I started down this rabbit hole. It’s like lathering with a brick this one, albeit a very soft and pleasurable brick. But seriously don’t expect lather flow from this. 

Gosh - Never used, but from finger feel I can tell it is heritage. Only 20 made. Much softer tips than all the other brushes with an above average density. 

2/1 - Even the regular Silvertip was quite nice. This one has a bit better backbone than most of the silvertips had with a bit harsher tips than they had. Usually they were a bit softer than heritage. I would just about say a heritage lite despite less density, but that’s the variation you get in brushes. Thought I’d show it as I had everything else out, and I always was rather fond of the Series 2 model. 

This is just my experiences that I’ve had with my brushes. The good thing is that over time of reading other people’s thoughts on shaving brushes there are commonalities that emerge in regards to traits and characteristics grades of hair have. There are always variations that appear over time, and you can find that even in the same batch. I just try and pipe up on this as I do have more experience than most, and was around when Rooney was in its heyday and all these models got released. To me they were worth the hype they received and still do, but go by what is good for you. While we can find commonalities of what we agree on, what matters most is finding what works for you. I geek out on brushes as that’s an area I’ve always been fascinated with

33 1,008
Reply
 02-18-2020, 03:58 PM
#17
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
User Info
Thank you, Joe, for sharing--and for your detailed, insightful commentary concerning--your lovely Rooney and M&F collection! Very much appreciated as always.

4 1,066
Reply
 02-19-2020, 02:45 AM
#18
  • Puma
  • Senior Member
  • Central Jersey
User Info
Style 1 with Super 3 band has been ordered.

19 1,063
Reply
 08-13-2020, 04:40 AM
#19
User Info
This was a really fun read, months later. Brad, I really do hope that Lee finishes and makes available whatever history he’s working on. I’m sure it would answer many questions and be fascinating to a lot of us.

0 19
Reply
 08-13-2020, 01:56 PM
#20
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
User Info
(08-13-2020, 04:40 AM)LostinCincy Wrote: This was a really fun read, months later. Brad, I really do hope that Lee finishes and makes available whatever history he’s working on. I’m sure it would answer many questions and be fascinating to a lot of us.

Thank you for the reminder.  Lee tells me he's been trying to coordinate with the writer to get everything finalized.  It should be a fascinating read.

4 1,066
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)