Friday, April 15, 2011

China and shaving brushes

I started a thread on SMF about Chinese made knots. While I am an admirer of some English made shaving brushes, I don't accept that workers in other countries, particularly China, do not produce high quality knots or brushes.

Here is the thread:

Chinese made knots.

I decided to add no more to the thread, as I was already being criticised for my motives in starting it. But I did decide to discuss some of the issues with my manufacturer of brush heads in China. I'm not publishing this on a shaving forum because again, I'll be seen as promoting New Forest Brushes. I can do that here. Here's the reply:

Dear Peter,

The history of the shaving brush workshops in England is very long. Some workshops even have one hundred years history or more. The quality of their products has been recognised by most people. Chinese made brush heads or brushes are quite cheap, for the badger hair's origin is in China. Most workshops don't make the heads and the even the finished brushes at all. They buy the heads or the finished brushes from China and pack them with their own traditional packing. But most of them do not admit that the brushes are produced in China. They only say the badger hair was from China. So that they can sell the brushes at high prices.

I'll take some head processing photos for your reference. It can be proved that our products are handmade.

It will take 3 months to train a worker to make a low grade brush head, like bristle or pure badger. When the worker produces low grade heads about one year or more. We'll have a test. When he has passed it, he can make high grade badger heads like super badger, silvertip badger or long best badger.

We can make the 20 mm fan shape a little rounder, if you think it is too flat.
Ming Yao

It was interesting to observe the typical Chinese respect for age and tradition.
The last remark gives an insight into the specification process. I test samples, then seek modification if necessary. Note too, the standard of English used by a Chinese gentleman - also skilled in using the tools of modern technology. This is today's world.


  1. I'm not registered with that forum to make a comment. Consider cars manufactured in England. Not as much as they one were due to better manufacturing in other countries (Japan) or cheaper production or both. Is this the same with brushes?

  2. At least brush making continues in the UK under the control of British owners! But there are makers in other countries now who turn out truly excellent brushes too.
    I never have adopted a "British or English is best" attitude. It's just arrogant and plain daft.
    And I'm a native born Englishman.