- How to cut off Urushi brushes. -

Supervision by 刷毛や狐】

This video shows how to prepare brushes of "刷毛や狐 / Fox Mark Urushi Brushes". Since brushes are made differently depending on brands, see it as a reference and adapt your way as needed.


When the bristles become noticeably brittle or the root of the bristles become hardened with urushi, it is time to cut them off. Here is a general method of cutting off the head of a brush and putting on a new tip.



1) Cut off the head of the brush

Use a saw to cut off the entire wooden board below the root of the bristles. It is best to cut off the head with a margin of 3 to 5 mm to allow for lacquer or oil seepage.
At this time, be sure to stand the brush upright while cutting. If the bristles are cut lying down, the friction between the bristles will be so great that they may break. The brushes can be cut either upright or lying down.

↓Upper photo: standing up Lower photo: lying down

2) Peel off the board to reveal the hair plate.

 Use a saw to cut into the wooden board of the brush from a position slightly longer than the length of the hair tip you want to attach, and peel off the board. At this point, cut the wood with the intention of leaving a thin layer of bark, and later remove the remaining wood with a cutting knife or similar tool to avoid cutting the bristles unnecessarily.

The angle is up to you, depending on the task. If you cut at a slight angle rather than perpendicular to the bristles, the bristles will reach the edge of the bowl when you paint it, which is very convenient. When painting the inside bottom of bowls and cups, a straight brush is better, so it is convenient to have both.

The small part of the wooden board cut by the saw (the stepped part at the border between the wooden board and the hair board) will get in the way of the next process, so it is cut diagonally with a cutting knife.I don't cut the wood on the side of the board yet.

You can check the step 2 in the video. Click here.


3) Attaching the hair ends

Use a well-sharpened blade to attach the hair ends. It is best to get a good shape at this stage, but it is possible to adjust the shape after unraveling (in fact, adjustment after unraveling is important), so don't be nervous.

In the video below, I show you how to cut with a canner blade.By the way, if you remove the "sides" part supporting the hair plate in step 2, it will become unstable and difficult to shape, so please leave the "sides" part attached.

You can check the step 3 in the video. Click here.


4) Determining the length of the hair ends

With a well-sharpened blade, adjust the length of the brush's hair tip to your liking. The tips of the bristles you purchase are just cosmetic cuts. The "shape" of the bristles can be adjusted after unraveling, so you don't need to force it. If you want to make it shorter, remove the tip of the hair board. If you want to make it longer, remove a little of the wood board at the root and make it the desired length.


5) Removing the sides

After deciding on the length of the bristles, remove the "sides" (triangular wooden part) from both sides of the bristles. Be careful not to cut the bristles.

You can check the step 5 in the video. Click here.


6) Unraveling the hairs

To loosen the hairs that have hardened due to glue lacquer, tap them. It is recommended to use a plastic hammer (*) on a wooden stand to avoid damaging the bristles.

In order to keep our brushes in good condition, please do not soak them in lukewarm water or water while beating.

To do this, hook the border between the bristles and the wooden board on the helix of the stand, and use a hammer to hit the bristles gradually from the edge and evenly over the entire surface. When the entire piece is loosened up, rub it with the helix of the stand. Repeat the tapping and squeezing to loosen the roots. If you use the helicopter while the hair is still too loose, the hair will break, so don't be in a hurry.

If you find crunchy hair clumps when you stroke the hair ends, the glue lacquer has not yet been broken. A thicker glue lacquer is used to glue the hair board to the hair board, so it is a little harder to break down in that area. Please tap on it until it becomes soft to the touch.
If there is a fine crunch that just won't come loose... or if you feel like you will break the hair if you tap any harder... give up! Don't worry, there will be another chance to loosen it later, so just move on.

*At Brush and Fox, we use a plastic hammer not only for unraveling brushes, but also for all other work. We use a size 1 hammer for general work and for loosening large brushes, and a size 1/2 hammer for loosening small brushes. Both are handy to have, but I would recommend 1/2 if you are only using it to loosen brushes that are an inch or less first.

You can check the step 5 in the video. Click here.


7) Vacuuming.

This is a backdoor trick.
Place the narrow nozzle of the vacuum cleaner on the unraveled hair ends and turn it on. Use the edge of the nozzle to scrub and suck up the fine glue lacquer powder in the hair.
You can do this or not, but it will make the subsequent washing process much easier!


8) Adjusting the hair ends

Wet the hair ends. While it is wet, use a well-sharpened cutting knife to scrape off the surface of the hair that was damaged when you hit it with a hammer to unwind it.
If you can't make a good shape in step 1, or if the shape is not what you expected after unraveling, you can adjust it here. Use a cutting knife to shave off a little bit of the hair to create the desired shape. It works best if you wet the hair thoroughly so that it lays flat. (To adjust the "length" of the hair ends, see "Adding new hair ends (fine tuning method)")

If you try to do this with a large blade such as a canner blade or a lacquered knife, it will push the hair open and cut it into a distorted shape when you apply the blade.

You can check the step 8 in the video. Click here.


9) Glue washing

Soak the hair with glue and wash it with a spatula.
A wooden spatula such as cypress is best because it is gentle on the hair. The more you poke, the softer the wood fibers become, and the less likely they are to damage the hair. If there are any clumps that could not be loosened with the hammer in step (6), this poking and washing is your chance! Poke it with the tip of a spatula to break it up.
If you cannot prepare a wooden spatula, you can use a plastic spatula, but it is harder than a wooden spatula, so there is a possibility that the bristles will break off even after processing.However, it is harder than a wooden spatula and the bristles may break off. See here for more information on processing plastic spatulas.
Glue can be anything with some viscosity, as it is used to bind the remaining glue lacquer powder in the unraveled bristles. Any glue with some viscosity is recommended, as long as it can be easily removed with water. In our studio, we use laundry glue.

Poke and wash until no brown color appears, then rinse off the glue under running water. If you scrub with water, the water will sink deep into the root of the hair plate, causing the brush to expand and break, so do not get it wetter than necessary.

A wooden spatula like the one shown in the photo (1) is the best, as it is gentle on the hair. If you use a commercially available plastic spatula, the tip and corners are too sharp and will cut the hair. If you use a commercial plastic spatula, the tip and corners are sharp and will cut the bristles, so use sandpaper to round them off sufficiently "see photo (2)".



photo (2)


You can check the step 8 in the video. Click here.



Dry it well with a cloth and then... it's done!