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Gramercy Tools Finishing Brushes for Shellac and Lacquer

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Gramercy Tools | Our Own Brand
Found in Departments: Brushes, Tools, and Other Accessories
  Gramercy Tools
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 1" wide x 7/16" ($49.00) In Stock
2" wide x 9/16" ($78.00) Not available
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3" wide x 11/16" ($99.00) Not available
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Set of all three ($203.40) Not available
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Why is it that after months of wholeheartedly working on a piece of furniture, we woodworkers feel a bit hesitant about the final step - putting on the finish? One answer may be that we don't have the confidence in our finishing tools that we do in our woodworking tools. Those who do a lot of finishing typically use a professional grade sprayer set up in a properly dust free area, have expensive and hard-to-maintain protective equipment, etc. But what about skilled woodworkers - furniture makers, restorers, luthiers and others - who do only occasional finishing? What should they do? The simple solution, of course, is to use a traditional professional grade brush, but this item has largely disappeared from the market - up until now. A brush is a tool like any other, and a great brush really makes the job of finishing easier.

As we do with all our Gramercy Tools woodworking tools, we did a lot of research and testing before we figured out the best features in finishing brushes. We found that most of the commonly available finishing brushes are dumbed-down copies of older, much better styles. That explained why there was less of a distinction between brushes, even expensive ones, than we would have liked. In the end we asked one of the last brushmakers in the United States to hand-make a brush to our specifications. .

The Gramercy Tools brush is made of 100 percent European ox-hair. Ox-hair is very fine and has a wonderful feel to it. It will leave a virtually brush-mark free surface and will hold a fair amount of finish for a long, efficient and controlled stroke. This brush is useful even for French polishing, if you brush on a coat to get a head start before starting the rubbing out process. The brush is solid hair with no gap, so you can cover carving details and moldings, and go over edges and corners with no drips or splatters. The ox-hair is anchored in the brush with epoxy, so the brush won't deteriorate in solvents. The ferrule is top-quality stainless steel, so you can easily clean it in any solvent, including water, and not have to worry about corrosion - which can shorten the life of the brush and contaminate your finish. The handle is made of unfinished hardwood (in an attractive, traditional beaver-tail pattern) that is very comfortable in the hand and has a great balance. The brush has a hand-sculpted chisel tip for best performance. Our brushmaker told us to pack the brushes in a traditional paper wrapper that allows the hair to breathe and last longer. So we did.

We don't think you'll be able to find a better finishing brush for shellac, nitrocellulose lacquer, or any other typical thin finish material. With care, our brushes will last for years and make finishing much easier and more rewarding. Cleaning a shellac brush is easy. Here are instructions on brushcleaning.

Note: Do not use on heavier finishes like varnish and polyurethane. They may be too viscous for this brush and may break the brush’s thin hair. Use with these materials will be considered misuse and are not covered by our guarantee.

Also, since these brushes are from natural hair they are unsuited for waterborne finishes. For brushes for waterborne finishes see the product listing below.

The brush is available in 3 sizes. The 2" wide brush is the most generally useful, the 1" size is good for localized details, and the 3" size will make doing a large surface easier and quicker. Bristle length is 1-3/4" on all three brushes.

Handmade in the USA.
"There aren't any brushes that feel better in use than the Gramercy Tools brush" - Bob Flexner

Customer Reviews:for an average rating of:
Furniture maker
By: Ionut Bindea (Feb, 2022)
I use these brushes for many years now and they are good brushes but they have some major issues that will make the experience of using them pretty frustrating at times. I have recently broke a new one and I see it manifests the same issues as the first one. I am using these brushes solely to apply oil based varnishes. The ox hairs are very fine and the finish is applied very cleanly, in most of the cases, unless I want to rub the finish, there is no more work required after applying the last coat. The main issue that I am seeing is the loss of hairs during its lifetime, it starts from the first use and continues to the last, When I started using a new brush the old one had left at least half the filament body of the new one. While losing a hair here and there during the cleanup is no issue, most of the time this is happening in use and there is no more frustrating experience than to see that in the middle of the last coat you have to start fighting picking hairs from the finish or even worse, if you miss it you have to start all over again. A second issue is the clustering leaving large gaps between clusters which happens in use. Even though there is enough finish left in the brush, it starts clustering pretty soon which leads to more brushing work than needed and harder control when it comes to vertical surfaces. This aspects also makes the brush not very suitable for applying heavier body varnishes. Cleaning is easy but care has to be taken to not dislodge too many filaments during cleanup. I believe a blend with other natural filaments types, like selected hog hairs with split ends would make this brush much better and would give it the appropriate body density and stiffness for the best job. Thank you, Ionut
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Gramercy Finishing Brushes
By: William Green (Sep, 2021)
Just used the 2" finishing brush that I purchased about two months ago. Finishing two antique maple chairs with shellac (flakes that I mix myself--1 lb. cut). I cannot believe the quality of these brushes! (I also own the 1" brush). By far the best investment in a finishing brush that I have ever found. I've always been reluctant to finish with shellac, because I could never get it to flow properly. With this brush it is a no brainer. Golly, thank the lady who makes these brushes, and give her a hug for me.
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Greatest brush known to mankind
By: Robert Sefton (Apr, 2021)
I bought the 3 inch shellac and lacquer brush and the 3 inch waterborne varnish brush. They are so smooth to use that you almost can't tell that you are using it. They do not leave brush marks or bubbles. They can hold an incredible amount of varnish. They are so worth the money that you should buy several of each incase they sprout legs and run away. I wish I'd have had these decades ago.i have never seen a finish so perfectly smooth. The final product looks like it is polished smoother than glass.
I own this product.I am the manufacturer of this product.
furniture makr
By: Tom Newman (Jan, 2021)
For years I used the Princeton 8500 series brushes for polyurethane finishes (Minwax). They were absolutely the best. When they quite making them I figured I'd just have to go out of business or (God forbid) start spraying. Luckily I found your brushes. They hold a large volume of finish and lay it down evenly with great sensitivity. No drips, sags, or puddles. Occasionally I've had a problem with dropped bristles. Seems to vary a little brush to brush. I stay on top of it by looking for them and pulling them out as I go. All in all, you have a great product.
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By: James Magness (Jan, 2021)
I purchased the 2" shellac brush. I was so pleasantly surprised by the quality of the finish film it produced. These are great brushes that will last a very long time. I love doing business with you guys.
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By: John rayson (Jul, 2020)
Have been using these brushes here in Tasmania for about 12 years now and they are magic. As a restorer I use a heck of a lot of shellac and only use a rubber now for the final flattening out, even on large table tops. I never clean the brushes, just leave them hanging in methylated spirit. My only complaint is that they don't wear out. Each brush lasts 3 or 4 years. Keep up the good work. John Rayson.
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Good flow but too much shedding
By: AJ (Nov, 2019)
I like these brushes for shellac but from day one and over the two years i have been using both the 1" and 3", I am constantly picking hairs out of the brush and the finish. It is very annoying. Is this normal for animal hair. I can't ever trust the brush so I have to pre-check it for loose hairs and then go over the finish. Just yesterday, finishing a 3x6 maple table top with a 1 1/2# cut, I picked over 20 hairs out. It really doesn't seem right.
I own this product.
Flows nice, but shedding on first project
By: Jeff (May, 2019)
I bought the 2” ox hair brush for a specific project two years ago. I finally finished the woodworking this week and started applying shellac. I like the feel and flow of this brush, but I don’t like picking hairs out the finish. I’ve collected maybe 10 during two coats.
I own this product.
By: Tom Newman (Apr, 2019)
For years (decades) I used a Princeton 8500B to brush varnish on table tops and other furniture. It was the best available. Then, a few years ago, they quit making them. Your GT shebru.20 is keeping me in business. A great brush. If you know how to use one of these you don't need a spray booth.
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By: Terry Tumlin (Dec, 2018)
These brushes are a joy to use. If 6 stars were an option I'd click it.
I own this product.
By: danny barrett (Aug, 2018)
i purchased your GT-shebru.xx, brush for applying thin shellac (zinsser seal coat) and am considering one for Minwax urethane finishes. when using seal coat the brush is so soft and formless it's like brushing with a rag at the end of the handle rather than bristles. one stroke across a table top and the bristles stay curled up like an ocean wave, and stay there until i turn the brush over and go the opposite direction. also lost quite a few bristles into the finished top surface and had to pick them out. the Minwax urethane i would like to use isn't much thicker that the seal coat and i'm now hesitant to order another brush. however the Fine Woodworking article you quote on this page says "it will lay down a coat of varnish with almost no brush marks" what am i missing were they over selling? don't misunderstand i think the brush is a quality product very finely made but are my expectations too high?
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The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK Magazine
By: Salko Safic (Jun, 2018)
I've been using this brush for shellac only a few years now and am going to buy two more. They are absolutely brilliant and perform much better than the goat hair version you can buy from the art supply store. Highly recommended!
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By: Eric (Feb, 2018)
I couldn't find a FAQ section on your site. I wanted to know if the Gramercy finish brushes could be used for oil-based Polyurethane?
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Finishing Brushes
By: Maryann Kirk (Oct, 2017)
These are the BEST EVER! Smoothest finish EVER with Poly! They do take a long time to dry after cleaning, so order two.
I own this product.
Outstanding brushes!
By: Chris Haake (Dec, 2016)
These are absolutely wonderful brushes. I bought one when they were fairly new products and used it on several projects. Unfortunately, through my own carelessness, it was ruined. Despite the expense, I did not hesitate to buy a replacement. One thing: TFWW opines that varnish may be too heavy for these brushes, but that has not been my experience. In fact, I've used them for ONLY varnish, most coats at full strength. The brush holds an amazing charge, and controlling the rate of flow through pressure is a breeze. Tipping up is also easy. I just won't be without one of these and may buy the whole set!
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By: C Baarsch (Jul, 2016)
I am back to order another. I tried the small brush and it works wonderfully. I have used it weekly for four months without cleaning and it shows no sign of wear. I use it with Zinsser unwaxed shellac cut one to one. Rinse in alcohol and hang it till the next use. These bristles are very fine and extremely flexible which leaves virtually no brush marks the way I use it. I have tried a lot of other brushes including artist brushes and natural bristles as well as manufactured, high priced and low, and didn't find anything that worked as well. The golden taklon artist brushes worked for awhile but they didn't hold enough material and after a month or so the bristles started to part leaving skipped streaks. I strongly recommend these brushes for thinned shellac.
I own this product.
clumps of hair fall out over time
By: Mason H. (Jun, 2016)
Several years ago I purchased this brush (2in. ox hair) and I was very happy with it until recently. I have only used it occasionally for shellac finishes, meaning once or twice every few months. While it did shed a little initially, it has recently begun to lose clumps of hair to the point I can no longer use it, which leaves me deeply disappointed. I specifically bought this brush on the good reviews and the made in USA provenance, and I wanted it to be my "go to" brush for all my shellac work. I have completely "babied" it, using it only for shellac and only cleaning it in DNA...still, I am dealing with clumps of the ox hair falling out now. Hairs should not be falling out with a $50 brush, and I expected a longer lifetime.
I own this product.
Furniture Maker
By: Joe (Nov, 2015)
Love this brush! Holds a ton of finish and lays it down without a mark.
I own this product.
By: michael michalofsky (Oct, 2015)
the brush for shellac is amazing never used a brush like this before btw with respect to cleaning i started using ammonia cleans the brush in no time joel can this damage the brush? thanks michael
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By: M.W.Styga (Nov, 2014)
When brushing on lacquer for my segmented woodturning this brush is superior to the badger hair brush I own for which I paid the same price. The finest surface so far. The stainless steel is a plus. Have utilized this brush for several years and it still performs like new. Made in U.S.of A. That's refreshing.
I own this product.
Brush Shellac, No Problem
By: JRWW (Aug, 2014)
I had never brushed shellac with success before owning this brush. Quality of construction feels great. I have only used it a few times but seems like it will hold up for a long time with gentle use.
I own this product.
supplier reponds
By: joel (Apr, 2014)
Fimwdwkr, What are you using the brushes for? For shellac and lacquer as recommended they should work fine. Varnish is too viscous for a lot of the hair, so it breaks, and also cleaning the brush to get rid of varnish also weakens the brush. - joel
I am the manufacturer of this product.
By: Fimwdwkr (Apr, 2014)
I love the brushes and have 3 sets, but sadly the brushes fall apart. I don't recommend them for they don't last.
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By: G.W. Marton (Feb, 2014)
I bought two of these brushes several years ago for shellac application. These are truly in a class by themselves. The finish is consistently excellent (I use a 2 1/2 pound cut) and best of all, I haven't even used the second brush. I just rinse with alcohol when I'm done and let it dry. When I'm ready to use again, a soak in alcohol and its ready to go. My favorite finishing sequence is 3-4 heavy brush on coats followed by 400 sandpaper. Wipe down and pad on a finish coat. Works every time.
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