Every field of human endeavor has its ideal tools--tools generally considered the best for the task at hand. So it is with traditional shaving. Boar bristles, horse and badger hair are the most commonly used fibers found in shaving brushes. Although synthetic fibers have greatly improved in recent years, badger brushes continue to reign supreme. That's because badger hair best combines all the properties essential to a fine shave. It is soft, flexible, and retains the right amount of water needed to generate rich, creamy lather over the widest range of soaps and creams. And, with proper care, badger brushes are very long-lasting, making even the most expensive badger brushes good values for the money.
Some General Information
Because of the way they're made (all else being equal!), Fan and Hybrid knots will "splay" more than Bulb-shaped knots. Bulbs, on the other hand, tend to have a "springier" backbone, which offers more "massage" than comparable Fans and Hybrids.
At the same time, Fans and Hybrids generally release lather more freely, while Bulbs tend to be a bit "tighter" with their lather.
Although we tend to favor Bulb knots in our daily routine, many who bowl lather seem to prefer Fan and Hybrid shapes, while those who face lather lean more toward Bulbs.
2-Band vs. 3-Band Knots
2-band knots typically, but not always, show two different colors: dark at the base with lighter-colored tips. 3-band knots are characterized by three distinct colors or "bands": usually cream-colored bases and white or cream-colored tips with a dark band near the middle. 2-Band hair typically has thicker bases than 3-band which, assuming similar knot density, often results in firmer backbone than 3-band hair.
Tip color variations. Badger tips can display varying shades of cream and occasionally show a light reddish tinge. Initial color variations can be due to genetics or even the season or climate where the badger was harvested. Such color variations have no effect upon hair quality, performance or longevity. Tip colors can also evolve depending on the soaps or creams used.
(Please note: the following knot descriptions are our subjective assessments. Your experience may vary.)
Morris & Forndran Knots
Morris & Forndran knots are considered by many wet shaving enthusiasts to be the best in the world! Each knot is individually hand-crafted by Lee Sabini in the United Kingdom to fit each specific handle. This approach is opposite that taken by most others who typically make handles to fit pre-made knots. This additional level of customization naturally costs more, and takes more time; but the result is a brush that is truly unique. Moreover, Morris & Forndran knots may be configured to provide differing forms of "face feel" if so specified.
Morris & Forndran knots are currently available in two types of badger hair: 2-band Finest and 3-band Super. (Blonde Badger hair is unavailable at this time.)
All Morris & Forndran knots may be ordered in Bulb, Fan or Hybrid shapes. Fans have hair that's pretty much the same length throughout, giving the tops a "flatter" appearance than the Bulb which has a more rounded profile. The Hybrid shape is about midway between the Fan and Bulb profiles.
2-Band Finest Badger
The Morris & Forndran 2-band Finest is a dense knot with moderately strong backbone under very soft tips. Finests tend to exhibit a slight amount of "scritch" during a 10-12 shave "break-in" period; but once broken in, this hair exhibits soft but not "squishy" tips over firm backbone, yet with excellent lather release. The current crop of Finest hair is some of the nicest we've seen in years. Lee compares the tips of this batch of finest to Blonde Badger.
|Finest Fan||Finest Hybrid||Finest Bulb|
3-band Super Badger
The current crop of Morris & Forndran 3-band Super Badger is a very fine hair best suited to shorter lofted brushes (for example: a 28mm knot at 46-48mm of loft.) Due to its moderate backbone, M&F Super Badger can be used at higher lofts for those who enjoy a very soft face feel.
|M&F Super Badger, Fan|
We offer three types of BSSW badger hair knots: two 2-band knots along with our new 3-band Super Badger. All are hand-crafted to our specifications from highest-quality hair by small factories in China. We back each knot with a one-year limited warranty against shedding.
Our Batch Coding Scheme
Badger hair, like fine wine, tends to vary from year to year, from season to season and even from animal to animal. Brokers and knot makers try to even out these variances, but there are limits to what can be done. For that reason, we have adopted a simple coding scheme to help patrons decide upon (and compare) our BSSW knots. Our coding system works like this:
- The first four digits indicate the year and month we received the knots. "1704," for example, tells us we received the knot in April, 2017.
- The fifth position is a code we've assigned to the knot maker. We currently stock knots from makers "A" and "C."
- The sixth position indicates the number of bands: 2 or 3.
- The seventh (and last) position, sometimes occupied by an "x," indicates the knot shape. The current values are:
- F = Fan shape
- H = Hybrid shape (more rounded than a Fan, but less round than a Bulb)
- B = Bulb shape
2-Band Silvertip (batch 1704C2x)
Our 2-band Silvertip badger knots offer an extremely soft face feel yet with enough backbone to handle the hardest soaps. Our 2-Band Silvertips are available in Fan and Bulb shapes in 22, 24, 26 and 30mm sizes*. This is the knot we recommend to those with sensitive skin.
|1704C2F, 2-Band Silvertip Fan||1704C2F, 2-Band Silvertip Bulb|
Our Select Badger knots exhibit slightly greater density than our 2-band Silvertips. That extra density translates into a bit more backbone and "scrub" without being harsh. With their very soft tips, our Selects provide a luxurious shaving experience.
Our Select Badger knots are also noted for their shape-holding ability.
We offer two batches of Select Badger: 1801A2B, available in 30mm Bulbs only, and the 1804A2x, in Fan and Bulb shapes in 26 and 28mm sizes. The primary difference between the 1801's and 1804's is that the tips of the 1804's have a greater tendency to "hook." Otherwise, their performance is quite similar.
|1801A2B, 30mm Select Badger Bulb|
|1804A2F, Select Badger Fan||1804A2B, Select Badger Bulb|
3-Band Super Badger
Our new 3-band Super Badger offers a face feel that is simply described as, "lush." More dense than our previous 1503A 3-band Special Badger, one of our testers observes that our new Super Badger is somewhat similar to an often referenced Super Badger, but is slightly less dense overall. He concludes saying, "the 'density' is perfectly made for great flow through of lather." In short, we believe our Super Badger presents a nearly ideal balance of backbone, softness and density.
Our 3-band Super Badger is available in Hybrid (i.e., roughly half way between a Fan and a Bulb) and Bulb shapes in 26 and 28mm sizes.
|3-band Super Badger, Hybrid||3-Band Super Badger, Bulb|
*About knot sizes. Our knots are "sized" (measured) by the diameter at which they enter the top of the handle (the "ferrule.")