better way to clean a brush

This last weekend I've been putting on a translucent Alkyd Oil stain on my front door. I cleaned the brush with mineral spirits, but obviously not sufficiently since the next day it was stiff. I remembered that I recently saw an article in one of the WW mags about cleaning brushes. After digging a bit I found in American Woodworker a 4-step process that involves first using mineral spirits, then a brush cleaning product with a comb, then soap and water, finally a brush treatment product. Does anyone do this? Seems like a lot of steps. But I don't want to throw away another $17 brush.
Also what do you guys do with the used solvent? Seems like most of the brush cleaning techniques leaves a lot of dirty solvent to deal with. Thanks for your help. Mark
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: This last weekend I've been putting on a translucent Alkyd Oil stain : on my front door. I cleaned the brush with mineral spirits, but : obviously not sufficiently since the next day it was stiff. I : remembered that I recently saw an article in one of the WW mags about : cleaning brushes. After digging a bit I found in American Woodworker a : 4-step process that involves first using mineral spirits, then a brush : cleaning product with a comb, then soap and water, finally a brush : treatment product. Does anyone do this? Seems like a lot of steps. But : I don't want to throw away another $17 brush. : : Also what do you guys do with the used solvent? Seems like most of the : brush cleaning techniques leaves a lot of dirty solvent to deal with. : Thanks for your help. : Mark
When it comes to a high quality (expensive) brush, treat it the same as an expensive tools. Clean it for all it is worth. The extra time is well spent and you have the money you did not spend for more brushes for other uses. As far as the solvent. Let it sit to seperate the solids to the bottom and pour off the good solvent into a container for the next brush. Let the solids harden and toss.
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    Clean your brush a couple times in thinner and then wrap it up in aluminum foil and put it in the freezer. Write on the foild what you used it for and you can use it over and over again. Its not the best option and limits you to a brush for a couple of products. You wouldnt want to use a brush you painted a blue door with to then urethane.     I am sure there are procedures for cleaning one but it always seems to me like you have to dump a lot of thinner/cleaner/conditioner on the planet to get a clean brush when using oil and than doesnt make sense to me when the freezer is right there.
Mark
Mark wrote:

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Mark & Shauna wrote:

That is the best I idea I've heard in a while...I'll have to try it.
What about leaving the brush in a jar of the appropriate thinner? - sorta like the jar of combs in blue anti-septic solution at the barber shop. You'd need a tall jar to close the lid...but it might work.
************************************ Chris Merrill snipped-for-privacy@christophermerrillZZZ.net (remove the ZZZ to contact me) ************************************
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Yah, Dave hit the nail on the head, If you dont HANG the brush in the can it will splay out into a big unusable mess. Also, I have found that even a brush left in thinner can get hard. The only way I have found to not clean a brush (oil based) til its totally clean and be able to reuse it is the freezer trick.
Mark
bay area dave wrote:

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When it comes to alkyd I found that the traditional method works fine (no solvents, no work). When done painting hang the brushes in one of those plastic things sold for the purpose (fill it first with linseed oil, raw). No hassle. Keep separate brushes for dark and light colors. When in need of a brush take it out of the oil, wipe off oil, dip it into the paint and work it up against paper (not newsprint) until the color is right. Quick easy, no solvents. PvR

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Well, solvent on a brush, thinner, is a good thing. It will help make the brush easier to clean after a days painting with oil paints and will help the paint to flow off the brush. Caution should be taken however to make sure a majority of the thinner is wiped off so that it does not leak and run down the handle.
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I use the freezer but store it in a closed bottle as well as wrapped in foil. This keeps the solvent out of the frozen turkey. Cheers, JG
Mark & Shauna wrote:

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I use mineral spitits, then Lestoil and water, then dish soap and water. My 40-year-old bristle brushes are still like new. I credit Lestoil with much of the work, since it acts as a transition between the mineral spirits and the dish soap. -- Ernie
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Finally a good answer...;~) I always dip my brushes in thinner before starting to paint when using oil based paints. After a day of painting I spend about 3 minutes in 2 cans of thinner to clean.
(Mark) wrote:

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I say that I've tried it there more than once, and I don't like having solvent on the brush when I start. But hey, I can wipe a 3# cut of shellac on and it turns out very nice and guys swear it can't be done. So go figure!
dave
Chris Merrill wrote:

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Chris
I say let the damp-brushers do it their way and I'll start with a dry brush. I've tried it the other way and have had poor success with consistency at the beginning of brushing on the paint/finish. I say there's no wrong answer here; let each person choose the method that gives THEM the best results.
dave
Chris Merrill wrote:

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Mark wrote:

I guess the previous owners were canners. I have a couple of spare kitchen cabinets in a storage closet, and they're full of mason jars with lids. So I put some mineral spirits into one, use it for cleaning, then let the solids settle out for a few days/weeks/months and pour the clear fluid off into another jar.
I run about four jars for cleaning, and one big jar gets all the dirty solvent so the glop can settle out of it. After it settles, I carefully pour off the solvent for use in the first stage of cleaning. I always use fresh solvent for the last stage, but cycling things around like this, I've been using the same gallon of mineral spirits and the same half dozen or so jars for years.
As far as cleaning, my brushes are usually left slightly stiff, but they limber up when next used. What I do is:
* clean with mineral spirits in the first jar to get out the bulk of the paint or varnish; swish around, trying to keep solvent out of the ferrule, and wipe off big gobs of stuff on the rim of the jar, so that it drizzles down
* take the brush out behind the shed and fling it at the wall to get as much solvent out of it as possible
* move to the next jar now that the brush is getting clean, and really swish it around good
* take the brush out behind the shed and fling it at the wall to get as much solvent out of it as possible
* if the brush still has a lot of stuff in it, at this point I'll get out an old comb and really work on it
* take the brush out behind the shed and fling it at the wall to get as much solvent out of it as possible
* wash in hot, soapy water (Dawn is good, if you use the old fashioned blue kind)
* liberally scrub around on a cake of "The General's" brush cleaner. I _think_ that's what it's called. Get it at a craft store, or maybe still available in the craft department at Wal-Mart. Comes in a funny little octagonal container. It's a white cake of something, or I think you can also buy it in bars. I don't know what the hell it is, but IT WORKS beautifully. Foam it up, work the foam through the bristles, and really give it a good go.
* rinse thoroughly, then take the brush out behind the shed and fling it at the wall
* hang to dry
This sounds like a PITA, and it *is* a PITA, but it only takes about 15 minutes to clean a brush. I've got some brushes that I've been using to apply oil-based poly and green paint for many seasons. Like I said at the beginning, they dry a little stiff, but they limber right up.
Unlike if SWMBO cleans a brush. If she cleans one, I just throw it away and don't even try to use it again.
FWIW, brushes used to paint water-based stuff require almost as much attention. I use the sink instead of jars of solvent, but it's a multi-stage process that takes patience and care. If you don't do it right, you may as well throw away the brush.
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: Mark wrote: : : > treatment product. Does anyone do this? Seems like a lot of steps. But : > I don't want to throw away another $17 brush. : >
: : * take the brush out behind the shed and fling it at the wall to get as much : solvent out of it as possible : : * move to the next jar now that the brush is getting clean, and really swish : it around good : : * take the brush out behind the shed and fling it at the wall to get as much : solvent out of it as possible : : * if the brush still has a lot of stuff in it, at this point I'll get out an : old comb and really work on it : : * take the brush out behind the shed and fling it at the wall to get as much : solvent out of it as possible : : * wash in hot, soapy water (Dawn is good, if you use the old fashioned blue : kind) : : I would like to see your modern art project on the wall of your shed ... :)
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Silvan wrote:

Geez...you guys must really love these $16 brushes! I buy brushes from the craft store (1 - 2 1/2") for $0.49 to $0.89 each. They are real bristles...and seem to leave a dandy finish. I clean them for _maybe_ a minute and hang them up. After a few uses...toss them.
I guess that's another advantage of shellac - since cured shellac is easily re-dissolved in alcohol, I just stick an old brush in the "shellac cleanup" jar and the brush softens within a minute...good as new!
If I had an extra 15 minutes, the _last_ activity I would spend it on would be cleaning brushes! Each to their own... ;)
************************************ Chris Merrill snipped-for-privacy@christophermerrillZZZ.net (remove the ZZZ to contact me) ************************************
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I used to do that, but I've found that for shellac (the finish I use about 90% of the time), it pays to have a good brush and take care of it.

That works well. Another variation on that is to partially clean out the brush after use by dipping it in alcohol and shaking it out a couple of times. Spin it bristles-down between your palms to get the excess out and set it aside to dry. Whatever shellac is still in the brush will solidify and actually help the bristles hold their shape until the next use. Then, like you mention, just soak in alcohol before using.
I tend to use this method when I am in the middle of finishing a project. When I'm done with the project I will clean the brush thoroughly, dry it out and put it back in its little protective sleeve. It still doesn't hurt to give it a quick soak in alcohol the next time you use it. That makes it easier to clean the brush after use.

If you care for the brush as I describe above, it shouldn't take you more than five minutes to clean it completely. (The more crud you let buld up, the longer it takes to clean.) The "quick-and-dirty" method takes even less time.
FWIW, my shellac brush is a Purdy. Yes, I paid ~$20 for the thing, but I've used it for 3+ years now and it's still in perfect shape. Even though I tend to wipe shellac more than brush it, it's still nice to have a really good natural bristle brush for when I need some quick coverage.
Chuck Vance
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I've read a similar sequence of cleaning instructions. In what I read, the "brush treatment product" was naphtha. It must have been used afer the mineral spirits though, because I remember its purpose was to remove the oiliness left behind by the mineral spirits. On the other hand, soap's purpose is to chemically bond oils to water so the oil will wash away... Anyway, I thought I would mention it in case someone wanted to try naphtha as a potential replacement for a more expensive, specialized product.
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Ronald E Hamann wrote:

Cleaner than combed?
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