Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two band and finest silvertip

I was pleased to be able to help a fellow enthusiast by supplying the knots used in my first two New Forest brushes. Fine looking brushes! Nice bowl too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Back to the 60s

They stopped making Yardleys soap a few years ago. This remained an unused 1960s Christmas gift until given to me by a friend lat year. I've now shaved with it several times. The lather is superb. On the day I was given it a bowl sold for £56 on Ebay! I wouldn't have paid that but, but I can understand why someone did.

The razor is a 1964 (Fourth quarter) Gillette Flair Tip Superspeed. How do I know that?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fido's Christmas razor

Last year it was Martin de Candre. This year I'll use it with this Feather Stainless Steel (AS-D1) This clinched it:

New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211 - SOLD OUT

The New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211 is now sold out.

I will be launching my next brush, the New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221 in January.

I will now also be making a few brushes locally using some different handle shapes and materials as a way also of deciding future projects.

I really appreciate the support I've received - it really does make the effort worthwhile.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Forest Brushes - Special offers

From time to time I intend to post special offers. These will include new and used samples as well as small batches of new brushes which I now intend to have made in the New Forest. Details can be seen on my New Forest Brushes Blog here:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shaving "Passes"

I don't recall anyone telling me how to shave. Most of my life I used goo or foam bought by my wife and scraped it off with the latest razor or blades she gave me at Christmas. I never thought of applying additional lather or systematically shaving in different directions. I just felt my face to find remaining bits of stubble and had another go at that area. I simply hated shaving - particularly with a new blade. Looking back, it's no wonder I so often ended up cursing the nicks and cuts.

These days, thanks to all the advice that I've picked up on the internet, shaving is now a daily ritual I really look forward to. I assemble the team for the day and take my time. Now I shave my face in three different directions. Before each "pass" I apply fresh lather. I finish off by gently squeezing out some lather left in the brush for a fourth tidy up. All the time focusing on slow gentle strokes of the razor. For the next few hours I never can resist a little bit of faceturbating to confirm just how good my shave was that day.

The shaving forums can be a bit of a bear pit at times. But I am hugely indebted to all those people who take the time and trouble to post advice and suggestions for those of us who decide to take more interest in improving our shaving ritual.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brush handle materials

Some materials I intend to use to have a few shaving brushes made here in the New Forest using some new handle shapes. Only in small groups of three or four at a time - in two band and finest silvertip. From top - tambootie, an African hardwood, alpalina, alternative ebony and alternative ivory.

I'll post links here to my New Forest Brushes Blog when brushes become available.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brush loft comparisons

These are samples I had made for a New Forest 2203 - a fan shape version of a two band brush. They both have the same knot. One is set at 49 mm, the other is 44 mm. The shorter loft makes it more like a bulb shape - and in my opinion simply too stiff although it might suit some soap and face lathering enthusiasts. If I do decide to produce a batch of these brushes, I will aim for a slightly flatter top with a loft set at 48 mm.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This is the third day using the new Wilkinson Hydro 5 and it really does give a very comfortable shave. It leaves the skin feeling lubricated throughout the shave. No need for a lot of lather. I just gently painted on a thin coat of Tabac with my Acca Kappa brush. To round off, the Hydro balm provides a great value finish. On sale at the UK at present at half the normal price of £4.99. Might get a couple more.

A litttle more about the brush:

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Forest Brushes -Looking ahead

I have had a fantastic reaction to my first two brushes. I have just posted details on some shaving forums and my blog. Feedback has done the rest. I'm not doing any other marketing.
My next brush, the New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221 completes the first phase of my venture. It will be released in January. At £45 shipped worldwide, it will be simply the best value high quality brush money can buy. To match this quality hair with a Plisson High Mountain White of the same knot size would cost over £200. The hair is more expensive because of it's rarity but as far as I'm concerned I'm not interested in a policy of charging what the market might bear. I'm continuing to provide top quality brushes to enthusiasts at a price that many more can afford. Here's the prototype I have been using for a few weeks:

New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221

Two new developments will now proceed. I have bought a batch of two band and Finest Silvertip knots. And a small stock of imitation ivory, alpalina and imitation ebony. This will enable me to experiment with some new handle shapes for a few brushes I will have made in the New Forest.

And in the spring of 2011, I will be introducing a small number of new brushes in a 24 mm knot size using this handle shape:

I plan to keep New Forest brushes as a small manageable one man business. I have declined offers from on line retailers to sell my brushes. That would push up my prices and increase the scale of activity beyond my comfort zone. I have no wish to be a threat to other brands and brush makers. I hope I can encourage enthusiasts to enjoy the fun of collecting more brushes. In that way, everyone benefits!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wilkinson Hydro

I was recently invited to a promotional event about Wilkinson Hydro shaving products. I couldn't go. These turned up yesterday:

You can find all you need to know about these products here:

Wilkinson Hydro

And some reviews


These are not the sort of thing that those of us who have returned to traditional shaving are likely to favour. But I will give some of this stuff a try with an open mind.

Something I found particularly interesting was a document that came with the samples describing the conclusions of some research for Wilkinson by The Future Laboratory.

I quote:

.. new research shows how men's attitudes and behaviour are evolving to define new trends in facial shaving, in line with the seismic changes all around us.

The next decade is set to be the most challenging, problematic, optimistic and imaginative period of our lives, and has been dubbed the turbulent teens by The Future Laboratory. Jobs, earning power social standing and security are all under threat, affecting the changing role model of masculinity. Three trends are identified:

Sharp Shaving - In response to flashy consumerism, we are seeing a renewed interest in traditional shaving styles, steeped in shared history and authenticity yet fashion led, which has led to Sharp Shaving. (Me err..../)

Straight Shaving - In troubled times, men are reverting to a more conventional manly stereotype, giving rise to Straight Shaving, an overtly masculine, no frills, no nonsense and confidence asserting attitude to shaving.

Spa Shaving - Indulgence is no longer restricted to women. Spa Shaving sees men taking the time, money and effort to take care of themselves to look and feel their best, as part of a holistic grooming routine.

These trends are portrayed through the Three Ages of  Shaving, defining male typologies that embody them:

The Forced Shaver - the young rebel who won't shave, but knows he needs to in order to conform and move forward in life.

The Connoisseur Shaver - the dapper dandy who wants the authentic art of shaving to express his fashion style.

The Revitalised Shaver - the older gent re-energised about life and caring for himself through shaving, looking healthier and happier.

The research applied a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and analyses, spanning extensive desk research, a consumer survey, expert interviews to expand on key themes and consumer vox pops.

While the motivations behind men's shaving habits are many and complex, the barriers to shaving are equally intriguing. As noted by Mark Tungate, author of Marketing to Men and Luxury World: "The best way to get men to shave is to make the experience more pleasurable. If there was a way of making the act of shaving as pleasurable as going to the barber, I reckon many more men would do it"

WOW! I cannot quite tie in these conclusions with the Hydro range of products - are they a return to tradition?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Simply perfect!

This is the New Forest High Mountain Badger 2221 due to be released in January. It is such a joy to use. Todays Castle Forbes Lavender produced an explosion of lather in a bowl. A gentle painting then a massage in circular motions illustrated just how soft the tips of this brush are. The 22mm/ 46 mm spec makes it an ideal size for lathering while retaining control of the brush. The Jagger Chatsworth/Red Personna make a great combination and I must soon think about some more Cucumber and Rose Milk!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shaving Forums

I started keeping a record of forum numbers last year. This is a comparison with numbers on 17 November each year:

                                             2009               2010

Badger and Blade                 18273             31637
Straight Razor Place              15843             27194
Shave My Face                       6143               6998
The Shave Den                       2822              5053
The Shaving Room                   172                628
Dam Fine Shave                                            404 
Shave Ready                                                 288
Pogonotomy                                                   53        

Total                                    43703            72255 

Probably a lot of multiple registrations across forums, but no doubt about the growth in numbers. I will continue to monitor. Apologies to Forums I've not included. Happy to add numbers if anyone can supply the figures.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chubby 2 Best

The Chubby 3 must be a whopper. This is simply too big for lathering off the puck without getting messy. But it did deliver from L'Occitane Cade today. It's a magnificent brush but just a bit too big to be among my favourites. I prefer to lather creams in a bowl with it. Much better, less messy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Forest 2203 Superior Badger 2 band

My next New Forest brush, to be released in January, will be my first High Mountain grade brush, the 2221.

The pictures above are of the brush likely to be released next March. It will be a fan shape version of the New Forest 2201. I am in a real quandary about the loft. The knot will be 22 mm. The brushes in the photo are both set with a loft of 50 mm. The used one on the right has been tested by me over several weeks now. I'm soon due to receive samples set at a loft of 46 mm. This is likely to be popular among soap using face latherers who like a good backbone. But I do wonder about whether or not the brush would be better with a slightly higher loft. At 50 mm it feels soft and luxurious and has a backbone greater than most silvertips. I'll probably end up deciding between 46/47 or 48 mm.

I do fuss over my specs. That's what makes it so satisfying when you get excellent reviews for the choices you make.

I shall ponder on.

DE Aggressiveness

I'm not sure if I posted this link before. But here it is anyway.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A post on a shaving forum:

I think I actually enjoy less dense brushes...

So I have purchased a rediculous amount of brushes in the last few weeks (eight to be exact). I have a few Simpson two-bands, a pre-fix Simpson PJ1 in super, a couple TGN silvertip knots, a Wee Scot, and two Vulfix brushes, a 660 small and a 374 both in super badger.

I am having a badger hair melt down...

I honestly do not like my Simpson two-bands, I want so much to love them but I can't. I think they are too scrathy and stiff for me, I can't get passed it.

I recently picked up a PJ1 pre-fix in super and really like it. I think it is because of the fan shape and the softer feel. I keep hearing of these two-band revalations but I can't make mine come to fruition. I think it is the spend more get more misconseption that is coming through.

Basically this is what I can tell you after just a year of wet shaving. If you find a brush, a cream, a soap, a blade, or a razor that works for you, stick with it. No matter what everyone else is using, who cares!!! Use what works for you.

This is an interesting observation. It illustrates the wide variety of brushes available because so many of us have different preferences.

I have several two band brushes. Some enthusiasts like them the stiffer the better to give a really good scrub during lathering. At another extreme I have some soft, floppy silvertips that provide a totally different experience. There are no rights or wrongs here. Each of us will find our own preferences. I find that I love the variety on offer in the world of wet shaving. Creams, soaps, razors and brushes - different types, shapes and sizes. And they can be used in varied combinations.

It's why all reviews should be treated with caution. There's only one way to find out if you like something!

New Forest in China

Sold my first shaving brush to China.

Well it was to someone with parents in the UK who has moved from Houston. But who cares. Fido's off to China! The New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211 goes far and wide.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mix and match

One of my most expensive brushes worked up a great lather from one of my cheapest soaps. The 90th Anniversary Simpsons Astor LE (£180) with Palmolive shave stick. Stuffed in a mini casserole dish it works perfectly. Another great value after shave balm is Proraso.

The Astor is my favourite two band, not too dense with a loft of 52 mm, it has very soft tips and makes an excellent brush to use with creams as well as hard soaps.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two band lofts

This is a New Forest 2202 two band. One of only a few made in the New Forest using tambottie, an African hardwood. This is a 22 mm knot set at a loft of 55 mm. Even at that loft it has sufficient backbone to deliver excellent lather from hard soaps. Today it was Arlington, from DR Harris. Many enthusiasts favour lofts below 50 mm, so you can make your choice from 45 mm to 55 mm and still achieve satisfactory results. I prefer 50/52 mm. for two band brushes. A good compromise.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fido's 2 bands

From L to R TGN, LE Grosvenor, Rooney 1/2 Finest, PJ2 Super, PJ2 Best (both 2 band) New Forest 2201, New Forest 2202, New Forest 2203 (not on general release yet)

2 band brushes are all great performers with soaps - firm backbone and soft tips. Bulb shape are best at 50 mm or above. Fan shape are best a little lower.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back to soaps

After a couple of weeks of creams it was back to soaps today. Trumpers Rose soaked in water while showering then face lathered with a Simpsons PJ2 two band delivered great results. The bulb shape works perfectly at a loft of 50 mm - plenty of backbone but not too stiff. Cucumbers and Rose Milk starting to run low. Complements the Trumpers Rose perfectly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pre shave products

I've tried several pre shave products and some home made stuff. I've used hot towels and sometimes spent a lot of time on pre shave action.

These days?

After my shower, I just rinse mt face again in hot /warm water and leave it wet. Then apply my lather.


Great shaves every time. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying anything. But a fairly simple pre shave routine works just fine for me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Silvertip Shaving brush prices

"Silvertip" is the softest and most luxurious of the shaving brush grades. There are variations. Finest Silvertip is resorted and redressed silvertip. Some brands use the term "Super" to describe their best silvertip. Others use the term to describe a lesser standard (Vulfix)

Here are a few examples of prices of some well known brands for some medium size brushes:

All are in the silvertip/super/finest silvertip category:

Vulfix 2235                  23 mm knot  50mm loft                 £152
Simpsons Tulip 2          22 mm          50 mm                      £108
Shavemac 177               23 mm          54 mm                      £75
Rooney 3/1 ST              22 mm           48 mm                     £65
Jagger medium              21 mm           50 mm                     £67
           large                  23 mm           50 mm                     £90
Thater 4125/0                22 mm           48 mm                     £87
Savile Row 3824            22 mm           52mm                     $98 exc tax.
Kent BK4                      22 mm           55 mm                    £50

I have used most of these brushes. They are fine brushes and a pleasure to use.

I quote this to show a comparison with the best value silvertip available today:

New Forest Finest Silvertip 2211  22 mm knot  48 mm loft   £35 inc. shipping.

Just a few now left!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Plisson High Mountain White

After my Rooney Finest I thought I would use my other rare badger hair Plisson. This is another soft and floppy brush with a 20 mm knot and a 51 mm loft. It does have slightly softer tips than most silvertips and is a very fine brush. But at £190 it is a crazy price to pay for a Plisson logo.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yet more about shedding

This is worth publicising. A post I made yesterday on TSR:

Picked this from a thread in another place.

It's another response from Vulfix about shedding:

"Thank you for the email.

Shedding is an issue that occurs from time to time, thankfully a problem in very limited numbers, particularly bearing in mind the thousands of shaving brushes that we manufacture each year.

Hair loss from our shaving brushes happens for three reasons:

Firstly, incorrect use of the shaving brush. Over zealous use of the shaving brush can result in bristles snapping or being dislodged from their glued knot base. Some individuals tend to push the brush into their face and swirl the brush over the skin rather than produce a good lather by using a ‘painting’ motion in light strokes. It is easy for us to detect mistreatment of the brush in this way on visual inspection.

Secondly, poor brush aftercare. A shaving brush should be rinsed thoroughly in piping hot water to remove excess soap or cream, then ‘shocked’ in very cold water to remove any remaining residue. The shaving brush head should never be touched by hand during the rinsing process … another big no, no. Some individuals have a tendency to try and squeeze the soap out of the head which in turn applies massive pressure on the hair within the knot as they are pulled upwards. Brushes should be shook out to dry initially, then hung upside down in a well vented area to avoid the build up of mildew spores which attack the glue and hair at the base.

Thirdly, manufacturing defects. Our shaving brushes are all handmade products (perhaps the only manufacturer in the world still employing traditional techniques), therefore a certain amount of human error must be factored in. Incorrect bundling, tying, setting, gluing & twiddling can all contribute to a shedding brush.

As you can see, it’s quite a complex issue. The majority of brush faults are a direct result of points 1 & 2. I’m not suggesting for one minute that this is the case with your #2233.

By examining your shaving brush in closer detail we will be able to determine what the exact problem is. If we discover that the brush has a manufacturing related fault, we will naturally send out a replacement immediately.

Therefore, I would be very grateful if you could return the brush to the address given below and marked for the attention of ‘Brett Clarke – General Manager’.

Best regards,

Progress Vulfix"

Some interesting issues.

Anything other than lathering by painting motions is misuse of a brush?

Hang the brush upside down. Simpsons claim it is unnecessary.Who now speaks for them?

Don't touch the brush head during rinsing.

Rinse in "piping hot" water, shock in cold.

I prefer the idea of enjoying my brushes rather than ensuring they outlast me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Frank Shaving brushes



I have waited to post about Frank Shaving brushes until I had received both the Finest and Silvertip models. I have used the Finest several times and the Silvertip just twice. Anyone who has read my shaving brush blog will appreciate the wide variety of brushes I have been able to test and will have noted many enthusiastic reviews.

Frank Shaving have been around for a long time. But only recently have they decided to market their own brand through an agent in China operating on Ebay. That is the key to their prices together with the use of moulded handles. A Chinese agent is likely to be satisfied with a return far less than a retailer in the West.

The Finest brush is priced at $9.99 with $6.99 for shipping to the UK. At that price it compares well with any brush below £20 and with some even higher. The loft on my brush is 52 mm so it has decent backbone. This is not a typical two band brush to compare with Simpsons, Rooneys and others, the tips are not as soft. The hair is more like a very good quality pure badger. It lathers well and is pleasant to use for face lathering. All in all great value. The logo went after a couple of sessions, but that's acceptable for a brush of this price.

The silvertip was $23.99 plus $6.99 delivery. A very cheap silvertip. Sadly that's what mine has turned out to be. It has a loft of 48 mm.Despite that, it really is too soft and floppy to make for an enjoyable shave. I come at this from having used silvertips by all the major brands. It simply doesn't match their quality. Is it good value? Perhaps for what it is, the price is about right. But the star is clearly the Frank Finest. If I wanted a brush for my collection, that would be my choice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rooney 1/2 Finest

My Rooney Finest 1/2 really is a strange brush. A fan shape is always a little more flexible than other shapes at the same loft. So a loft of 56 mm is surprisingly high even with a knot of 24 mm. And today the brush again felt really quite floppy and it struggles to give a decent face lather unless you press down quite hard. Not something you should really have to do. It produced all the lather one could wish for but it isn't one of my most pleasant brushes to use. If the range is ever reintroduced, the loft should be reduced closer to 50 mm.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Aggressive razor?

A Gillette Single Ring (1918) can be an aggressive razor. So today it was used with a feather light touch with a new Red Personna. The old Coates cream takes a lot of beating - one of four Coates pots I still have left. The New Forest 2202 brush has a loft set at 55 mm. At that height it retains adequate backbone and delivers a great face lathering experience. I think perhaps we enthusiasts sometimes place too much emphasis on the need for short lofts. Two band brushes can probably work well over a wide range of lofts from 45 to 55 mm.

The ridged bowl in the background remains one of my favourite accessories.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gillette Single Ring 1918

A valued gift from an old friend. This remained unused for many years after my friends father died. Not any more! An open comb, it needs to be treated with respect but then gives great shaves.