Cheap goods of any kind never reflect credit on the maker. Neither do they give satisfaction to the consumer or dealer. It requires skill and art as well as quality of material to produce high grades of goods, and such must always bring their price and never fail to give satisfaction. For this reason, the intelligent, practical and thoughtful workman will always look for the best tools. Good bristle brushes cannot be made of any substitute for imported bristles, and cheaper grades are always produced by adulteration and mixtures. The cheapening of goods is generally done so that it shows least to the eye, in the center of the brush, and covered by good quality to make the goods as marketable as possible. Such goods cannot be expected to be durable or give satisfaction.
Fig. 1. Ordinary Paint Brush.
Fig. 2. Badger Hair Flowing Brush.
First-class goods can also be ruined or lose half their value if they are not properly cared for. Paint and varnish, as well as calcimine and whitewash brushes, should never be allowed to stand on the ends of bristles over night, but should always be cleaned thoroughly before quitting work, and carefully hung up, paint and varnish brushes in oil or varnish, and calcimine and whitewash to dry. It will injure any brush to let it remain in water. Should paint, varnish, leather-bound whitewash or wall brush be found that has become loose from shrinkage, take a tablespoonful or so of water, open the brush and pour the water into the center. This will swell the parts and make the brush as firm as when first made.
New brushes when first put in work are apt to shed any loose bristles that have not been fastened when made, and while such loose bristles are always cleaned out before the goods are put up for market, not all such loose bristles or hair can be cleaned out, and such are sure to come loose when the brush is first used. This defect will cure itself in one day's use.
Do not condemn the maker if one brush is brought back by a practical workman, who possibly has had one or more brushes out of the same dozen that were all right and gave perfect satisfaction, but look for the cause or defect in the user. Remember that goods are made up in large quantities, and when the bristle is prepared it is in large batches. It must naturally follow that if one brush, or one dozen, or any quantity of such a lot is good that all must be, or if one is bad all must be so.
The greatest annoyance that manufacturers have to contend with is the improper or careless use and care of good, first-class brushes.
Good goods of all kinds are a credit to the manufacturer, give satisfaction to the mechanic in use, and pleasure and profit to the dealer to sell. They are sure to bring their own reward.
Brushes are made of bristles and of hair, bound to a handle by cord, wire, metal stamped to imitate wire, tin, copper and brass. The oval and round paint and varnish brushes are generally bound with cord, wire or its imitations, and copper and brass. The flat bristle, fitch, badger, bear and camel 's-hair brushes with tin. The ordinary paint brushes contain the inferior or coarser grades of bristles, the varnish brushes are selected or finer qualities. The oval and round brushes are numbered by the brush-maker to designate sizes, from No. 6 down to No. 1, thence from one 0 to 000000. For carriage painting the sizes between one and four naughts are considered best, the smaller ones may be used, but it is advantageous to use as large a brush as possible on most of the work. Small brushes called tools are numbered from 1 up to 10, the latter being the largest. Brushes are generally used in sets, as, for example, in painting a body or gear, a large brush for laying the paint would be used, and a small tool for cleaning up around the moldings, nuts and bolt-heads. It would be an almost endless task to illustrate and describe all of the many varieties of paint and varnish brushes, and a few of the principal ones only will receive attention here.
Russia is the great bristle growing country, and her exports reach as high as 5,000 tons of this commodity every year. Hogs in countless herds roam the deep Muscovite forests, where the oak, the pine, the beech, larch and other nut bearing trees cover the ground with acorns and nuts to the depth of a foot or more. But these swine are not all of value for their bristles. The perfect bristle is found only on a special race, and that race fattened in a certain way. On the frontiers of civilization all over the Muscovite territory are the government tallow factories where animals reared too far from the habitation of men to be consumed for human food are boiled down for the sake of their fat. The swine are fed on the refuse of these tallow factories at certain seasons, and become in prime condition after a few months' feeding. It is from these animals that the bristles of commerce mainly come. When the swine are fattened, and their bristles in fine color, they are driven in kraals so thickly that they can scarcely stand - irritated and goaded by the herdsmen till they are sullen with rage kicking, striving, struggling and scrambling together in feverish rage, they are seized one by one, by the kak koffs, a class of laborers educated to plucking swine, and their bristles pulled out by the roots.
The perspiration into which the poor creatures are thrown by their exercise causes their bristles to yield easily. The process is pleasant neither to the eye nor the ear. The hog strenuously resists with loud outcries, and vehement opposition. It does no good. Once seized, he is instantly divested of his clothing and then immediately released, goes grunting off to the woods.
Fig. 3. Fitch Varnish Brush.
The so-called French bristles are principally from Russia stock, cleaned and bleached to render them white and exceedingly elastic, yet soft as an infant's hair. From these are made the fine pencils of the artist. Length, elasticity, firmness and color are elements that constitute their excellence, and the bristle expert can readily assort them for their special uses.
The ordinary paint brush for general work is made either from selected Russia bristles, or with an inferior gray center, inclosed by fine white bristles. Carriage and wagon painters usually select the best Russia bristles, and the size known as 0000 is used for rough-stuff and foundation coats, while the house painter would choose a larger one possibly. A new brush of this description will not work well unless bridled, that is having an extra binding added, and this may be done in several ways.
By winding a strong cord around the bristles to about the middle of the same, or, as far from the original binding as desired. By covering a portion of the bristles with leather stitched on tightly. By wrapping a piece of muslin around the brush, then tying a cord at the center of the bristles turn the muslin back and tie it securely to the handle. By using a patent metallic band or binder, and by other means, the object being to shorten the exposed bristles until the brush is partly worn down, when the extra binding may be removed.
Badger-Hair Varnish Brush. The badger-hair brush is next in importance. It is well bound in tin, hair set in glue, handle nicely japanned, and chisel-pointed. For varnishing small panels or parts of a body it has no equal. The best badger-hair is imported on the skin from Germany and Russia.