Cleaning & Conditioning Paint Brushes

I tend to use somewhat more expensive brushes when I paint my carvings.  I just like the way they work.  But if you’re like me you go through paint brushes as fast as the water you wash them in.  Here are a few tips on washing your brushes and preserving them to get longer life out of them:

“The Masters” Brush Cleaner and Preserver

1.  Swirl your brush back and forth over the cake of “The Masters” Brush Cleaner & Preserver until bristles are soapy.  Brush back and forth in my dampened hand until all paint is removed.  Repeat a second time.  Rinse well, then reform the bristles with a little soap on the fingers.  Let dry with the soap on the bristles.  Rinse brush with water before using.

2.  Clean in a cup of Dawn, put soap in my hand and clean the brush back and forth in the palm of my hand.  Rinse well.  Then reform bristles with a little Dawn on the fingers.  Let dry with some soap on the bristles.  Rinse brush with water before using.

3.  Clean brushes in a bowl of Aqua Net hair spray.  Mash bristles well until no more paint comes out (add more Aqua Net if necessary).  Reform the shape and let dry with some Aqua Net on the bristles.  Rinse brush with water before using.

4.  Wash brushes with soap and use a little bit of hair conditioner on them and they will smooth back out.  Reform the bristles and let dry with a little conditioner on them.  Rinse brush with water before using.  Use regular hair conditioner.  They sell brush conditioner in art supply stores, however it’s the same stuff.

5.  Do your final brush cleaning with rubbing alcohol.  It removes any remaining redisue and allows the bristles to relax.  Also, find a spring you can stretch atop your glass and put the handle in the coil holding the brush of the bottom.  Use the same for drying.  And when the brush gets ratty give it a haircut.  You’ll get maximum life from your brushes this way.

6.  Clean brush on a bar of Lava soap.  Rinse clean.  Reshape with a little soap on the fingers.  Set out to dry.  Rinse brush with water before using.


We have a comment from Phyllis today with some excellent advice for all new carvers.  Phyllis writes:

“I just want to comment on the upsweep knives. A carving friend gifted me with one several years ago and I never used it until last year. I have the Flexcut brand that Bob showed on his blog yesterday. I love it and use it a lot more now. I can get a lot more wood off in places that before were difficult to get at. I used to have a lot of trouble rounding wood until I started using my upsweep knife, now it’s much easier for me. I have several Flexcut knives, v-tools and gouges and I love them all. Plus I have a couple of Helvie knives and love them also. My suggestion for any new carver is not to go out and buy all the knives you can get all at once. Take your time, get one really good knife to start out with until you figure out what you like to carve the most. Start your collection slowly so you don’t waste your money on tools you might never use again. Also I always suggest that you save your first ever carving so that in a year or so you can refer back to it to see the awesome improvements you have made.—-Phyllis”

Thank you for the excellent information and advice, Phyllis!  This is something all wood carvers should keep in mind when first starting out.

Phyllis also replies to Steve’s questions regarding her scroll saw problem.  Phyllis writes:

“Hi Steve,

Yes I have the tension lever loose when I install the blade. The bottom is most often the one that lets loose and it’s usually the one I tighten first and as to the question about the wingnuts, sorry I can’t remember if they are loose or not.”  The saw is a Dremel, model 1830, and it’s about 15 years old.  Any thoughts?

Today Dean writes a reply to my comments on his photo.  Dean writes:

Thanks for the compliment one the eyes. I did not make the bird houses they are actually part of a lamp in my sunroom. They just seemed like a good backdrop for the gnome. I’ve decided that he is a retired consultant gnome. A guy who knows stuff”

Gnomes are known to live for many, many years so they learn a lot of stuff over that time!

Jim Morasco has sent in a photo of one of his excellent carvings:

Wood Carving by Jim Morasco

Thank you so much for the photo, Jim.  That’s amazing work!  I like how you carved the feathers.  What type of wood is that?

Thank you to everyone for submitting your questions, comments and photos!  This is what keeps Wood Chip Chatter active and interesting!

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

Let the chips fly!  Tell your friends about Wood Chip Chatter, and don’t forget to send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter Active and keep the conversations going!

And remember to email your photos to

BREAKING NEWS: Condoms don’t guarantee safe sex anymore. A friend of mine was wearing one when he was shot dead by the woman’s husband.

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

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