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Thread: Premium Brushes for Varnish - what & where to buy

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  1. #1
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    Question Premium Brushes for Varnish - what & where to buy

    On a Scott Holmes finishing video he showed the difference between a cheap brush and a premium brush. I am convinced, but I don't know where to buy a premium brush or what to ask for.

    Any advice from Scott or others?

    Thanks in advance.

    Brian Kent

    (specifically I am using Epifanes Clear Gloss Varnish on White Oak for an outdoor dining table).
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  2. #2
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    Here is a good source for a variety of quality brushes. http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/search_subCategory.do?categoryName=Brushes&categor y=534&page=GRID&engine=adwords!6456&keyword=varnis h_brushes

    However, I would not buy a $40-$50 varnish brush if I were not going to use it often. I'd use a foam brush instead which will do just as good a job if not better.

  3. #3
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    Epifanes varnish brush is very good. Using a good brush will make you throw the cheap ones away. They work better, period. In the long run a quality brush will be cheaper than the throw aways. Buy it once not 40 times or 300 times.

    The brush in the video is ~7 years old and has been used and cleaned 250-300 times. Many of the students in my finishing class think it's a new brush when they first see it.
    Last edited by Scott Holmes; 08-21-2011 at 4:57 PM.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  4. #4
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    Gramercy tools has never let me down, so I am inclined to go with their product or the Epifanes, since I am using their finish. I assume that it would be better than the china bristle at Rockler.
    Last edited by Brian Kent; 08-21-2011 at 5:36 PM.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  5. #5
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    Brian, I have the Gramercy Brushes that i use for shellac and they are very nice, I would recomend them. They are the only quality brushes I have experience with.
    ...Dyslexic...
    Gibson Woodworking & Design
    Find my homepage in my profile, not allowed to put it here.

  6. #6
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    I have touched one before (Gramercy brushes) and found them thicker than your regular Purdy or Corona brushes.
    Which works best if your brushing larger surface.
    Last edited by Steven Hsieh; 08-21-2011 at 11:50 PM.

  7. #7
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    The thicker body of the brush indicates more bristles which in turn will hold more finish. This brush will lay down a smoother more even film of finish than an inferior brush. With a thick ox-hair brush (the bristles themselves are very fine) like the Gramercy you should be able to easily draw the brush along a piece of wood for 6-7 feet without needing to reload the brush; proper technique (appling slightly more pressure as you proceed) will leave a smooth even coat from one end to the other...
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  8. #8
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    Brian,

    Here's a few sources. I talked with Woodcraft in th e houston area and they want to start carring the Gramercy brushes. Ask your local WoodCraft or Rockler and maybe they will carry them too...

    Rockler, rockler.com, 800-279-4441 2'' Natural Badger-Style China bristle Brush, 23466, $23.49

    Homestead Finishing Products, homesteadfinishingproducts.com, 216-631-5309 GRAMERCY TOOLS OX-HAIR BRUSH 2", #GTB-2, $41.95.

    Tools For Woodworking, toolsforworkingwood.com, 800-426-4613 Gramercy Tools Finishing Brush - 2" Wide, GT-SHEBRU.20, $41.95.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  9. #9
    You do not want the Gramercy brush for Epifanes. Epifanes (at least unthinned or even lightly thinned) is a very thick product and the Gramercy brush though beautiful, is very very soft. You would have to thin the Epifanes consideraby to use the Grammercy. The bruhes that Epifanes Distributors sell are Italian Omega brushes and are very full and pretty stiff and Epifanes carries them for a reason. They are good at pushing a stiff product.

    In general all you need is a good quality professional brush available at any paint store or Depot. People have their individual favorites. Unfortunately the brush will not make the job. An expensive brush will not automatically give you a great job. I've tried and owned virtually every brush out there. Also consider that you will have to clean it and especially an expensive one (and they are pretty well all not cheap) and clean it meticulously. You don't want a real cheap brush. But then again you can get a good quality brush pretty reasonably. Corana Urethaner is a good inexpensive brush and there are others. And the Urethaner would push the Epifanes. Getting the hang of Epifanes and thinning it to handle for different conditions and different abilities, now that is a whole other story. There are far easier varnishes to use than Epifanes.

  10. #10
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    I ended up getting an Epiphanes 55mm full brush and used the Scott Holmes video for preparation, application, and cleanup. Very effective all the way across. Thanks everybody.Totally different than any experience I've had in the past with a brush-on finish.

    Since I don't have money to throw around I am happy to have a $50 brush now that I expect to use for years.
    Last edited by Brian Kent; 02-14-2012 at 11:03 AM.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  11. #11
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    I have one of these. I like it.

    DUNNET FITCH BRUSH


    But then, I got two of the Grammercy Ox-hair. I first got a 1" to compliment the 2" above. Then, because I had a large table top to varnish, I got the 3"

    No comparison. The Grammercy holds a bigger load, and lays it down consistently.

    I'm going to try the dunnet for shellac, if and when I get to brushing shellac. I'll still use it for varnish sometimes.......it is very stiff, and is great at tipping off. But - that's just one more brush to clean.
    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
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  12. #12
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    My experirence is that a quality brush WILL make a HUGH difference.

    As Geogre points out there is no one brush that is perfect for all varnishes. Epifanes is a good example... it needs a stiff bristled brush. Gramercy Ox hair is a very soft bristle; excellent for detailed work and curved surfaces. I use an imitation badger hair (real badger hair is very stiff) brush when I need a stiffer bristle.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  13. #13
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    I figured an Epiphanes brush would be good for Epiphanes varnish since they both have the same first name. What an epiphany!
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Kent View Post
    I figured an Epiphanes brush would be good for Epiphanes varnish since they both have the same first name. What an epiphany!
    For the record, the next time I make a comment like that remember I didn't make this one!!!!

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome Hanby View Post
    For the record, the next time I make a comment like that remember I didn't make this one!!!!
    I like the comment.

    I think about the only real badger hair you will find will be on shaving brushes and they are obviously very soft. The only paint brush type badger brush that I know of is a badger blender that is used in decorative painting for just that, blending. And very soft. Just for that purpose.

    The brushes that you see that are called badgers are actually "badger style" with white bristles with a dyed black stripe, like the Dunnet Fitch pictured a few posts back, but not called a badger. The vast majority of the 'badger" brushes will be in the yachting market; Corona, Redtree, and some others. The bristles are short, thick, and stiff. And they are not real badger bristle.
    The Dunnet Fitch brush is not as thick or stiff as the normal brushes that are called badger. If that makes sense.

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