Hand Made Luxury Shaving accessories by Rodney Neep

 

SHAVING BRUSH KNOTS

A summary of the different types of hair and bristle used in my shaving brushes.

There is no international standard for grades of brush knots, but the following is generally accepted. You will certainly encounter the terms "Pure Badger" which is actually close to being the lowest quality badger hair, and "Best Badger" which just is one step up from "pure". They are not the finest badger hair knots! It is "marketing speak". Pure or Best sounds as if it really is the best, right? Wrong!

Below: the quality of badger hair knots... lowest quality from the left top row, highest quality at the  bottom row right.


 

Almost all of the finest badger hair comes from China. Badger is a protected species in most of Europe. In rural Northern China, badgers multiply to the point of becoming a crop nuisance, and village cooperatives are licensed by the national government to hunt badgers and sell the hair to processors.


The more water a brush holds, the more moist and rich a lather will be. This results in less razor skipping and dragging.

The greatest benefit from shaving brush use is the tendency to soften and lift facial hair before a shave. Applying shaving cream by hand mats hair or raises it unevenly. Aerosol foams don't soften and lift facial hair as much as real shaving soap foam applied with a brush, instead the aerosol foam is relatively dry with lots of large air bubbles. Real shaving soap produces a creamy slippery  lather.

Shaving brush use requires agitation of the soap or cream (usually in a cup or the wooden shaving soap holder) to form a lather suitable for a shave. Apply the lather to the face in a gentle circular motion, and leave for about a minute before shaving for the best results. With a good foamy cream produced by a brush a razor does not need to be pressed to the skin in order to provide a close shave.

The result is not only a smoother more comfortable shave, but much less irritation from the razor! Your skin with thank you.

 


Extra Dense Silvertip Badger

Extremely densely packed hairs. Very strong backbone. It is very hard to find these knots! They are rare and often unabvailable. They are very expensive. If you want the very best in badger hair knots, then these are the ones.

The 26mm brush knot for example holds a huge amount of water! 88 grams when dry and 122 grams when wet. That's 34 grams of water, or 34 cubic centimetres! (That's 2 cubic inches of water!)

No wonder that it produces a big creamy lather!

The ultimate in badger hair knots.

"First lathering for this brush, and it's already a monster - outstanding knot"

"Rod- received the brush today it is very beautiful and thanks for the nice brush. The tips are wonderfully soft while giving me a good backbone. After seeing this, I would like one or two more of your "extra silvertip" brushes. I would like one in 24mm knot and the other in 26mm knot".

"This hair you can feel in a gentle soft scrub. The density is wonderfully high and the backbone of the 50mm loft can handle soaps and creams with ease. If you want a gentle luxurious top shelf knot this is a winner for sure."

"It really has fantastic lathering ability. I have used both a soap and a cream and this brush produced quickly some incredible copious slick effective lather for a couple of great shaves."

.

22, 24, 26, 28, 30mm


Above: left the Extra Silvertip compared with a super badger (right)


Above left:
Extra silvertip when new. Right: same brush used for 1 year

Super Silvertip Special Badger

A specially selected silvertip badger of extremely high quality.

The tips of the hair feel softer on the face than the extra dense silvertip, and have the hairs not quite so densely packed.

It has a very luxurious feel. And it is! These knots are not as expensive as the extra dense silvertip.

Set at 50mm or a little lower for face lathering with a strong backbone. Set at 54mm or above, for bowl lathering. (This knot will go up to 57mm loft at 24mm base diameter)

Ref: SSS-A

24, 26mm

This knot is destined to be used a lot in my brushes since I found this supplier in China in January 2014.

Usually plentiful stocks.

Super Silvertip Badger

OUT OF STOCK AT THE MOMENT
I may order more on occasions, but not often.

A softer action than the "extra" silvertip. Good for face lathering with the loft at 50mm or lower, exceptional for bowl lathering at higher lofts 53mm up to 58mm.

Expect this knot to bloom into a monster.

I don't keep large stocks of these knots, and usually only in 24mm, 26mm and 28mm.

20. 22, 24, 26, 28, 30mm

Manchurian 2 Band Badger

Called "2 band" because of the black base to the hairs and silver tips. This is a "stronger" knot than the silvertip knots and has a stiffer backbone. That's because the hairs are actually 1.5 times thicker than the regular silvertip hairs. The hairs come from badgers in the higher areas of China where the animal has different needs.

Primarily a face lathering brush, at which it excels if you like something with a stiffer action, especially with a loft set at 50mm. Note that the 24mm diameter knot feels stiffer than the 26mm.

 

24, 26mm

New for 2014

Usually plentiful stocks.

Silvertip Badger (Standard)

OUT OF STOCK AT THE MOMENT
I may order more on occasions, but not often.

Wonderfully soft hair tips. Silvertip is considered to be the best quality badger hair, (except for the more luxurious ones above). 

The silvertip brushes that I use come from two sources. Type A has a slightly flatter top, type H is more bulb shaped and has a little more natural backbone at the centre. I happily use both, depending on availability at the time. 

"Wow !!!!  I am indeed very impressed.  I have just given it a test lather and wow (again).  Just a small amount of soap produced masses of thick creamy lather."
.

22, 24, 26, 28, 30mm

Two Band (High Mountain) Badger

NOW DISCONTINUED
see Manchurian 2 Band Badger above

Very sought after by some people, and characterised by its white tips and a dark lower part. This is an excellent knot. It comes from badgers in the high mountains of Northern China and Mongolia. Equivalent in quality to silvertip, but with stronger, thicker hairs. The hairs are 1.5 times the diameter of a standard silvertip.

24mm

 

Super Badger

A good hair. More expensive than the lower grades. Better graded hairs and not as prickly. Fitted to the knot so that the ends do not have to be trimmed to shape. (A silvertip is much better though).

I no longer keep regular stocks of this knot.

21mm

Black Badger

There are different types of "black badger" hair. I would put this one on a par in quality with "Best Badger". (But more harsh).

It is much stiffer and the tips are a lot less soft than "silvertip" or "super". (They are clipped to shape, not natural tips). A good all round knot for bowl lathering and palm lathering. Those who prefer face lathering will love this hair, as it is really "scrubby" and "scritchy" on the face.

24mm

I stock this knot in very small qualtities, and at present they are easy for me to obtain more as needed.

Best Badger

Finer and more pliable hairs. More densely filled with hair than "pure badger.

Has the knot trimmed to shape, so the ends of the hairs are not natural tips. (You can see that in this photo)

Small stocks of this knot.

22mm

Pure Badger

Coarser hair from the underbelly. The hair varies in softness, pliability and colour. Usually, the ends are trimmed to shape, resulting in rough stiff ends. Very cheap.

22mm

Mixed Badger

A mixture of unsorted hairs from the underbelly and back. Inexpensive. The most basic of the badger hair knots.

The ends of the hairs are trimmed to shape.

Small stocks of this knot used for cheap brushes.

22mm

.

 

HORSE HAIR

Dyed to look like badger hair.

Superbly soft. Good for bowl and palm lathering. Extremely soft on the face.

This is a very under rated hair for shaving brushes! It has the soft feeling of silvertip badger hair.

None in stock at the moment, and not eassy to obtain.

 

24mm

.


BOAR BRISTLE 

Boar bristles absorb water. For best results you need to soak the hairs in warm water for a a couple of minutes before lathering. With use, after about a week or so, the ends of each bristle will split into three softer tips to create a softer brush. In this case "split ends" are good. Boar bristle is much harder and more stiff than badger hair. It will really scrub your face. However, boar bristle can still whip up a very good rich creamy lather.

The four types of Boar bristle knot that I use are shown above to illustrate the relative sizes.

Boar (White) top quality (BO1)

The highest quality boar bristle. Major manufacturers use this same knot in their higher price range brushes.

A huge big 27mm knot with a lot of 64mm. Natural untrimmed bristle tips which will split nicely after a few uses and become softer at the tips.

I only have this knot rarely. Boar knots are generally associated with cheaper brushes, but unfortunately as I have to import these and pay high postage charges from a company in the USA, and adding nimport duties they end up being unduly expensive to use for a brush.

A pity, because I really like this knot.

27mm

Boar (Banded) top quality (BO2)

Boar bristle that has been dyed to resemble badger hair. Top quality boar bristle. Natural unclipped hair ends. (Boar that has been clipped to shape will not make a good brush, as the natural ends need to split in use).

24mm diameter at the base of the knot, and with a 50mm loft.

I only have this knot rarely. Boar knots are generally associated with cheaper brushes, but unfortunately as I have to import these and pay high postage charges and import duties they end up being unduly expensive to use.

 

24mm

Boar Faux Badger (BO3)

Boar bristle that has been dyed to resemble badger hair. A small knot. An inexpensive hair. Natural unclipped hair ends. (Boar that has been clipped to shape will not make a good brush, as the natural ends need to split in use).

22mm at base with a 52mm loft

For a small knot this is surprisingly good! Many of my customers say that a brush made with this knot is the best that they have!

Regular stocks available.

22mm
24mm

Boar (White) (BO4)

An inexpensive hair. A small knot, but still very effective. Natural unclipped hair ends. (Boar that has been clipped to shape will not make a good brush, as the natural ends need to split in use).

For a small knot, this is surprisingly effective.

I can play with the settings of this knot to give:

  • 23mm at the base with 50mm loft
  • 21mm at the base with a 54mm loft

Regular stocks available.

21mm, 23mm

 

 

 

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