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Foam Brushes

PeteStaehling

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2020
144
2
69
Tallahassee Florida
I bought some foam brushes at Lowes and hated them! With the Raka epoxy at cool-ish temperatures they were not nearly as stiff as I prefer. They also came apart quickly.

Does anyone have a source for cheap foam brushes that are stiffer and hold up better?

They are probably okay for using the technique Chesapeake Light Craft shows in their video for varnish, but are pretty marginal with epoxy. I like using foam brushes for the final tipping pass.

CLC video at
 

oldbuffpilot

Well-Known Member
May 13, 2014
399
12
77
Central Kansas and Central Texas
I bought some foam brushes at Lowes and hated them! With the Raka epoxy at cool-ish temperatures they were not nearly as stiff as I prefer. They also came apart quickly.

Does anyone have a source for cheap foam brushes that are stiffer and hold up better?

They are probably okay for using the technique Chesapeake Light Craft shows in their video for varnish, but are pretty marginal with epoxy. I like using foam brushes for the final tipping pass.

CLC video at
I use these. I reuse them by letting the epoxy cure, then cutting the foam at a rt angle on the band saw. Don't need the chisel point just use the new edge. One of my posts on here has a pic. Razor knife works ok, but not as well. Recovering from surgery, little low on energy will look for pic later.
 

PeteStaehling

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2020
144
2
69
Tallahassee Florida
I use these. I reuse them by letting the epoxy cure, then cutting the foam at a rt angle on the band saw. Don't need the chisel point just use the new edge. One of my posts on here has a pic. Razor knife works ok, but not as well. Recovering from surgery, little low on energy will look for pic later.
Cutting them sounds like a good idea. With the thick epoxy and the wimpy brushes I got at Lowes I considered cutting them shorted before the first use and probably should have. They were falling apart after one use anyway and being shorter would have made them stiffer I think. That said, with varnish I might have gotten more than one use out of them with your trick.
 

PeteStaehling

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2020
144
2
69
Tallahassee Florida
I also found that the plastic stiffener was loose and the foam moved around it and failed there. I considered gluing the stiffeners into the foam, but it seems like buying better brushes is the answer if they are available. If I did glue them in the glue would have to be something that got along with whatever finish or adhesive was to be used and would adhere the plastic and foam. Epoxy would probably work I guess. I may try one just for fun.

These brushes were bad enough that gloved hands and a block of foam with no handle might have been much better. Stiffness could be tailored by adjusting the thickness of the block. Next time I run across some of the right foam I may try cutting some block brushes.

I almost switched over to chip brushes out of frustration on this job. I find their major issue of dropping bristles can be managed by shedding them out before use.
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,798
136
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Years ago, I was talking on the phone with the fellow who started Chesapeake Light Craft. We were talking boat finishes. He related how he had worked on getting a boat ready to take to a boat show. And, the next morning, when he went to check the boat, the neighborhood squirrel had tracked it up!

I asked what he did. He said, “I took it to the show as is. And just explained what had happened.!”

Moral of the story is, everybody has problems with boat finishes.
 

PeteStaehling

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2020
144
2
69
Tallahassee Florida
Years ago, I was talking on the phone with the fellow who started Chesapeake Light Craft. We were talking boat finishes. He related how he had worked on getting a boat ready to take to a boat show. And, the next morning, when he went to check the boat, the neighborhood squirrel had tracked it up!

I asked what he did. He said, “I took it to the show as is. And just explained what had happened.!”

Moral of the story is, everybody has problems with boat finishes.
I guess he didn't have many choices at that point. Take it or leave it home was about it.

There probably is one other moral to that story though. Don't leave important stuff until the last minute. Leave time for screw ups and unforeseen issues.
 

seedtick

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2006
1,160
7
Denham Springs, LA
I haven’t done a lot of epoxy coating, except for saturation coat prior to varnishing. For me, foam brushes are not stiff enough to effectively move epoxy around. I buy cheap chip brushes, cut about half the length of the bristles off, flex the remaining bristles vigorously to remove any loose hairs and throw the brush away when done
 
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PeteStaehling

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2020
144
2
69
Tallahassee Florida
I haven’t done a lot of epoxy coating, except for saturation coat prior to varnishing. For me, foam brushes are not stiff enough to effectively move epoxy around. I buy cheap chip brushes, cut about half the length of the bristles off, flex the remaining bristles vigorously to remove any loose hairs and throw the brush away when done
I have been using a crude method this morning and using a nitrile gloved hand followed by a foam roller once the cloth was mostly saturated and stuck down well.. It worked surprisingly well. I was having trouble with anything else moving the cloth too much on the inside floor sections. I did two sections and plan to do the remaining two tomorrow morning. I'll try your cut off chip brush hint then.
 

PeteStaehling

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2020
144
2
69
Tallahassee Florida
They are a cheap brush that I once read were made for machinists to brush chips off of their work. Not sure if that is true or not. They tend to shed, but I find I can pre shed out the loose bristles. They are made with natural China bristles that will hold up to epoxy, glue, resin, stain, paint remover, cleaners, oils and more. Chip brushes have a wood handle,

You can find 1" ones for something like 20-30 cents a piece. Nicer ones might run more.

So basically a very cheap China bristle brush.
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,798
136
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Thanks. I’ve been buying regular little paint brushes. I apply a mix of paint thinner and linseed oil to my picnic table after sanding. That gums up a brush pretty much too.
 
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PeteStaehling

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2020
144
2
69
Tallahassee Florida
I haven’t done a lot of epoxy coating, except for saturation coat prior to varnishing. For me, foam brushes are not stiff enough to effectively move epoxy around. I buy cheap chip brushes, cut about half the length of the bristles off, flex the remaining bristles vigorously to remove any loose hairs and throw the brush away when done
I tried cutting a chip brush so the bristles were as you describe and used it for wetting out cloth this morning. It worked great. It was a huge improvement, especially on what was a fairly lousy chip brush to start with. Thanks for the tip.

I suspect the brushes would be better all around, but they certainly are better for applying and moving epoxy around. They worked well in flat areas as well as for getting into and smoothing the corner fillets all without moving the cloth excessively.