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Your thoughts on brush type, specifically for Spirit (OK, you can include those for Oil as well). 

The usual advice for Spirit is use a brush that is basically a watercolour brush. The synthetic Golden Taklons always seem to be recommended for brushing Shellac. I bought one (not a cheap one either). I find it a little too floppy and it doesn't seem to hold as much varnish as other types. I just don't get on with it but they must be fine as many people seem to use them without my problems. 

The Cattle/Ox hair brush that I have is OK but the best I've used was a Sable/Synthetic mix by Winsor and Newton. Alas I didn't own it and I only had a brief few minutes with it. I'm tempted to empty my pockets. . . 

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A brush free of broken hairs is important for me which is why I too use synthetic bristle brushes. I have had very good luck with Da Vinci Synthetic Stencil brushes and the Da Vinci Top Acrylic Filberts.

 

BTW, I store the cleaned bushes in a large pickle (2.4 liter) jar with a lid which keeps them dust free.

 

And, yes, I do use my hands and fingers as well.

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My favorite: maxine's mop [http://www.hofcraft.com/loew-cornell-maxines-mop-brushes.html].  The bristles fan around the back instead of flaring out to the side under pressure...and it is shaped like a fingertip.

Joe

 

Joe that is not what I use, but it is as near as it gets without being the same. My oil varnish is quite thick and it needs a slightly stiffer brush, like your mop, to spread it well. However, for spirit varnishing you can't beat sable. My father used sable brushes all his life and I still have some of his that I also use now and again. They are at least 60 years old. The point that I am making is that if you buy the best and look after them, sable brushes will last for a long long time. 

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Joe that is not what I use, but it is as near as it gets without being the same. My oil varnish is quite thick and it needs a slightly stiffer brush, like your mop, to spread it well.

 

Roger, what brand of brush do you use for your oil varnish?  Do you know what comprises its stock?

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For (thin) oil varnishing a cello, I used a "pro arte series 51 large" very happily: however this brush size is almost certainly too large for a smaller instrument.

 

For smaller areas, I found the "pro arte 5/8 prolene+plus 008" very good: however you need to take great care to clean it very thoroughly after use as the thin filaments are at risk of getting gummed up.

 

These brush ranges seem fairly readily available in UK artist's supplies shops.

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My favorite: maxine's mop [http://www.hofcraft.com/loew-cornell-maxines-mop-brushes.html].  The bristles fan around the back instead of flaring out to the side under pressure...and it is shaped like a fingertip.

Joe

Joe

I'm using these brushes and like them but still have problems with breaking and or losing hairs when manipulating thick varnish. Don't know if that is brush technique or if I'm weakening the hair by overly aggressive cleaning. I generally clean with acetone until no more color comes out of the brush followed by soap and water. Any suggestions? For spirit varnishes I use   longer haired but similarly shaped sables  that I've used for at least twenty years and  like very much. 

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Joe

I'm using these brushes and like them but still have problems with breaking and or losing hairs when manipulating thick varnish. Don't know if that is brush technique or if I'm weakening the hair by overly aggressive cleaning. I generally clean with acetone until no more color comes out of the brush followed by soap and water. Any suggestions? For spirit varnishes I use   longer haired but similarly shaped sables  that I've used for at least twenty years and  like very much. 

 

Nate,

Try a lighter touch on the brush.  Stipling or brushing...if you push on the brush too hard the tip lifts and it is less effective...this also seems to loosen or crack the bristles.  I never clean this brush...I hang it in turps and dry it with cheese cloth when I am ready to use it.  If I forget and it gets stiff a little turps and a massage seems to do the trick.

Joe

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