[Caution: this is an image-heavy post!] Custom shaving brushes have really become very popular in the past several years. Every time you sign into your favorite forum or log on to your favorite group you can’t help but notice beautiful examples of custom shaving gear that many of your friends are proudly displaying in their daily SOTD (shave of the day) posts. I decided it was time for me to purchase a truly unique brush that was made just for me.
Several months ago, a few friends and I contacted Mr. Leo Frilot of Perfect Woodworks LLC to make some custom shaving brushes. We admired his work and were really happy that he took on the project without hesitation. Being the guy that I am, I was very interested in how these brushes were actually made. While speaking to him regarding the design of my brush I asked him if he could send me some pictures of the production process. He gladly agreed and gave me permission to share the process with everyone in the community.
Building the Brush
First and foremost it’s important to choose a base material to be used as the handle for your brush. Materials can include wood, plastic, metal, really anything. For this project we chose a colorful acrylic blank which is made from a resin based material.
Once we chose the material it was time to decide what shape we wanted to go with. Leo had several designs in mind and I (as usual) was undecided. I let him decide on a design for me and he came up with an awesome shorter “stubby” style shape that could hold a larger diameter knot.
It’s important to have an idea what size/type of knot you want to go with when choosing a design. Some knots won’t fit a particular shape so we had to decided what size, material and loft (depth the knot will be set in the handle) for this project we choose a 30mm (diameter of the knot at its base) synthetic fiber (nick named “tuxedo”) with an average loft (length of hair from the top of the handle to the tip of the actual hair).
If you’re unfamiliar with the typical shaving brush lingo I recommend reading The Sharpologist Shaving Brush Buyer’s Guide. This article is easy to read and will have you talking like a pro in no time at all.
Drilling the center hole is more difficult than it looks. Whenever you’re making a hole in the center of anything it’s very important to drill a pilot hole in the middle ensuring the knot will be in the center of the handle. Then proceed to drill to the desired size just a tad larger than the knot anticipated.
The final step is to attach the knot. This process takes a two part epoxy that bonds a water tight seal with the handle and the knot to ensure years of shaving use. It’s important to let the epoxy dry for 24 hours before use. The brush is now ready for its new owner!
After I received my brush I was very impressed with the way it looked in person. But how does it perform? That’s the most important question. I used this brush solely for several weeks with both creams and soaps in order to fully understand how it works in each scenario.
When I received my brush it came securely packed in a plastic tube, and to my surprise a cool certificate ensuring the authenticity of my purchase. The certificate had directions for proper use and storage as well as identifying my brush in particular with the knot and blank described in detail.
When laying it on a flat surface it’s perfectly level and does not wobble in the least bit. It’s extremely balanced and is neither top nor bottom heavy. I love how the design of the handle progresses from one side to the other.
I choose a 30 mm synthetic fiber knot commonly known as the “Tuxedot” for its black and white color scheme. This knot is very dense and is known to have soft tips which makes it perfect for lather retention.
The larger than normal knot truly changes the game when it comes to shaving brushes. It lathers quickly and the brush loads up with an ample amount of soap within a few seconds. After experimenting with soaking in warm water, I found that a little goes a long way. An excessive amount of water in the brush led to a broken down, runny lather that didn’t really work for me. Just a light rinse was all this brush needed to become a lather monster.
The handle felt good in my hand and had adequate grip. The weight and balance was perfect. The brush is not exceedingly heavy and is far from being light. The density of the knot was incredible. Enough backbone (density) for the hardest soaps and could easily plow through the thickest beard. The knot didn’t change shape or bloom in the least. Lathering was quick and easy. Hardly any effort was needed to get a rich luxurious lather that would impress even the biggest critics (although the combination of a good brush and a good soap goes a long way).
As for durability, this brush has not shed a single hair in the 40 or so shaves I used it. The handle looks the same as the day I received and I expect it to for years to come.
Purchasing a custom brush can be a very rewarding experience. There is something special about owning something that is truly unique to you and it’s really cool knowing you have the only one in existence.
The process of purchasing a custom brush is something I feel everyone should do at least once. It’s a great experience that will make you feel like you’re a star! You’ll post your mail call or shave of the day photo with pride and be prepared to talk about it as soon as your wet shaving buddies find out you have one. Be careful! Purchasing custom brushes can be addictive.
**Special Thanks to Leo for providing production pictures and everything he does for the wet shaving community.
About the Author:
Joe Borrelli is a long-time wet shaving enthusiast and collector. He hosts the Wet Shaving News/Talk Podcast , runs his own self-funded website http://shavestraightandsafe.com/ and operates a YouTube channel to help inform the community of new information involving the wet shaving world. Joe holds a BBA from Florida Atlantic University, and currently works for the nation’s largest wine/spirits/beer retailer. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Linda, reading, writing, outdoor activities and collecting wet shaving apparel. Find out more about Joe here.