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Keeping your Favourite Varnish Brush Fresh – Indefinitely

When I find a varnish brush that I really like, I want to be able to use it again and again. After all, when it comes to a varnish brush, only the best will do. The only problem was that my favourite brush would go stiff over time. Worse, it would develop hard bristles that would score a grove through an otherwise perfect finish.

A number of years ago, I came upon the idea of storing the brush in turpentine, rather than cleaning it in turpentine and then washing and drying it carefully. To do this, punch a hole in the top of a suitable jar. Next slide the handle through the hole. Then close the hole as best as possible by bending the metal back against the handle. Finally seal the hole with tape securing the brush handle to the lid. Duct tape works very well here. Fill the jar with turpentine up to a level just shy of the top of the bristles when the lid is screwed tight.

There is no need to clean the brush after varnishing. Just put it in the jar and tighten the lid. When it is next needed, squeeze turpentine out of the bristles into a clean rag and away you go. The brush shown in the pictures has been in periodic use for over eight years already. Sometimes it has rested patiently in its jar for over eight months. For four of these years the brush lived aboard our boat. Three Atlantic crossings, many months in the Caribbean and many thousands of sea miles later it is still in perfect shape.

As to the turpentine, it only needs replacing every year or two - more often if the brush is used with greater frequency. The brush, well it has many more years to go.

See Also


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