Saturday, October 24, 2020

Home Made Brush


- by Tommy "Edgar" McLintic

As may be seen on the attached illustrations, the main working component of the brush is a strip of sponge held in place with a rubber band. This type of brush has many advantages:

  • it is very cheap to construct, and to use; 

  • it is very convenient in the sense that after use, the sponge tip need not be cleaned in a suitable solvent, it may just be removed and discarded; 

  • sponge is a far better medium for putting on dyes, stains and other colours onto leather; 

  • and there is no danger of any hairs coming loose from the brush.


In figure 1 the components of the brush are clearly illustrated, and figure 2 shows how the components are assembled into the complete brush. 

The dimensions given are general dimensions, and you must use dimensions that are suitable for your purposes. 

I personally prefer to use a wooden dowel for the handle, but the brush may also be constructed, as shown in figure 3, using firm 8 to 10 oz leather, either cemented or riveted together. 

Instead of using leather strips on either side of the central leather core, strips of wood or plastic may also be used. 

The handle is not discarded each time after use, and a little more time and effort should be spent on the construction of the handle.

The working tip, and most important part of the brush is made of normal sponge, 1/4“ <6mm> thick, and about 4“ <100mm> long, held over a firm but flexible leather core with a normal elastic band. 

The width of the sponge depends on the purpose of the brush required, however, I have found that 3/4" <20mm> is ideal for general purpose leatherwork. It is a good idea to make a few brushes with widths that you personally find useful in your leatherwork.

When the sponge is fitted to the flexible leather tip, it must not be pulled tightly over the leather. The sponge should be a little loose, and not compressed at all.   Should the sponge be compressed, it will work well, but it will not hold any appreciable amount of dye.


The brush is used the same as any normal bristle brush, but in my opinion, the finish that is achieved with the sponge is far better than with a normal brush, and it is much easier to use. The sponge holds as much colour or stain as a bristle brush, but the sponge releases the colour in a much more controlled manner, thereby giving you a much more even spread of colour or stain.

There are circumstances where a firmer sponge may be useful , especially when colouring the edges of leather belts etc., and a few brushes with narrower tips, using a firmer sponge, if available, should be made. 

There is nothing against using normal sponge for colouring belt edges etc. - all that must be remembered, is not to press the brush too firmly against the leather edge. 

I have spoken to certain other leathercrafters and they prefer not to clean or replace the sponge of the brushes each time  they use it for the colouring of belt edges.   They rather let the dye dry completely on the sponge after use, and when they use the brush again, the firmness of the sponge due to the dried dye, is ideal for the colouring of subsequent belt edges. The normal solvents in the dye does soften the brush a little, and this is just enough to enable the sponge to hold dye, but the sponge still remains firm enough for the accurate colouring of belt edges.

The biggest advantage of this type of brush is that the sponge tip is entirely disposable after use. There is no necessity to clean the brush with suitable solvents etc. after use. Simply remove the used sponge and rubber band by pulling it down, and off the leather tip. Replace the tip with a fresh piece of sponge and rubber band. 

So as not to get any dye on your hands when removing the sponge, simply put your hand in a small plastic bag, remove the tip with that hand, and then pull the bag inside out over the used sponge and discard the plastic bag and its contents.

Keep a supply of pre-cut sponge strips for the various widths of brushes that you will be using, as well as a supply of small plastic bags and rubber bands available. This will prevent you having to cut a strip of fresh sponge each time, and to hunt for a small plastic bag and rubber band, each time that you need them.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you Johan! I've been using a sponge to apply dye by hand= fingers stained all kinds of unpleasant colors. I just made my own sponge brush after reading this and I love it. I sincerely appreciate the time you take to post on this site.