Ronn W

Brushes for poly (varnish)

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I don't use poly often but when I do I want a high quality bush.  I know that ox hair/china bristle are best but what brands do you guys use?  Recommendations and source????

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I've had real good luck with the Purdy brand brushes. I use them a lot for paint but have used them in the past when i brushed poly. I used to be able to brush a nice smooth coat of poly but after i started using the wipe on stuff i never looked back.

I also never had good luck with foam brushes. They always seemed to leave behind air bubbles maybe i was doing something wrong but the bristle brushes gave me a better finish.

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2 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I've had real good luck with the Purdy brand brushes. I use them a lot for paint but have used them in the past when i brushed poly. I used to be able to brush a nice smooth coat of poly but after i started using the wipe on stuff i never looked back.

I also never had good luck with foam brushes. They always seemed to leave behind air bubbles maybe i was doing something wrong but the bristle brushes gave me a better finish.

Same experience here. Purdy are at a good point with regards to price and quality. I never use foam brushes for anything but quick & dirty stuff where I just want to be able to throw away the brush rather than cleaning it.

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Purdy is my go-to as well.  I worked for my grandfather, who was a painting contractor, for 10 years, and he always told me to buy the best quality brush you can find.  It lasts longer and does a much better job than cheaper brushes.

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If I'm brushing on Epifanes, I'm using this one:

https://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=781              the 2" one

It would lay on too much for other kinds of varnishes though.

I also like the Wooster Yachtsman for a lot of things.  I don't remember using one for poly, but it's my go to for oil based paints like SW Industrial Enamel on porch floors.  I expect it would be pretty good for poly too, if you don't go for the high dollar ones.  I keep 4" ones for duster brushes.

https://www.amazon.com/Wooster-Z1120-3-Paintbrush-3-Inch/dp/B00002N908

I never got on with foam brushes for anything.  For me, they don't act the same from start to finish.

We use Purdy brushes for latex paints, but I'm not a big fan of their bristle brushes.

 

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1 hour ago, Tom King said:

also like the Wooster Yachtsman for a lot of things.  I don't remember using one for poly, but it's my go to for oil based paints like SW Industrial Enamel on porch floors.  I expect it would be pretty good for poly too, if you don't go for the high dollar ones.  I keep 4" ones for duster brushes.

I checked out your link.  Some reviews complained that the brush tends to shed its bristles.  Any experience with that?

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Let me add a qualifier to the foam brush recommendation. They are great for laying on Arm-R-Seal, which is thinner than brushing poly. Polyurathane that is meant for brushing will likely do better with a bristle brush.

Sort of like how a pancake is good for maple syrup, but for sorgum molasses, you need a good buttermilk biscuit...

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14 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Sort of like how a pancake is good for maple syrup, but for sorgum molasses, you need a good buttermilk biscuit...

Ah, now I understand.

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14 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Sort of like how a pancake is good for maple syrup, but for sorgum molasses, you need a good buttermilk biscuit...

Great... now I'm hungry.

Ronn... check Hirshfields as they have a selection of Wooster brushes and may help you pick the right one.

And I saved this video from William Ng's channel on brush technique as it was really helpful.

 

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17 hours ago, Ronn W said:

I checked out your link.  Some reviews complained that the brush tends to shed its bristles.  Any experience with that?

One thing that I have liked about them is that they don't shed bristles.   I haven't bought a new one in a number of years, so it might well be that they are made overseas now, and the quality may have dropped.  I don't really know.  I do know that they used to be a lot more expensive than those Amazon prices.

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I know a lot of people don't like the foam.  But please understand that the Jen foam brushes are a bit better than the ones you normally find at the big box store.

I tried them after reading about them in Rebecca Whitman's The Art of Finishing Wood.  I've had great success with using them on Marine Varnish.  The savings in cleaning, disposing of cleaning fluid, etc. make them worth a try.  Also of note:  Varnish brushes really are for varnish.  If you use them for paint, they become paint brushes, not varnish brushes, so then you need a second set.  If you don't varnish (or paint) often, the Jen brushes are great to have around.

I do have a few of the Epifanes brushes.  They are very nice.  They are not cheap.  The old sable hair brushes are even nicer, but now unobtainium.  

 

I would say if you varnish every day, buy the best brush you can find.  If you varnish once in a blue moon, you might find the Jen brushes a bit convenient.

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9 hours ago, Minnesota Steve said:

And I saved this video from William Ng's channel on brush technique as it was really helpful.

Great video.

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1 hour ago, Mark J said:

Great video.

+1

Just FYI, for latex paint, wet the brush prior to using and the bristles next to the ferrule will be easier to clean. 

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About the only time when I'm using a brush for latex paint, is on old window sash.  If paint gets more than halfway up the brush, I stop, and clean it.  I like the little stainless steel brushes, sold in the paint aisles of the box stores, that have the bristles at an angle.  Under hot water in a sink, with that brush, it's like new again in short order, if you don't let it get up near the handle.

I use disposable stuff for painting too.  My favorite is the bags in the 3M PPS system.

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19 hours ago, Don Z. said:

I know a lot of people don't like the foam.  But please understand that the Jen foam brushes are a bit better than the ones you normally find at the big box store.

I learned that lesson the hard way.

 If I buy individual foam brushes at Rockler they are Jen ones... but I once bought a bag of 20 brushes and they were some cheap chinese knockoff. 

 

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1 hour ago, Minnesota Steve said:

I learned that lesson the hard way.

 If I buy individual foam brushes at Rockler they are Jen ones... but I once bought a bag of 20 brushes and they were some cheap chinese knockoff. 

 

Yep I agree with you and Don Z not all foam brushes are created equal. The ones I use are from Jamestown distributors

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