Here are a couple of images of the tools I use most frequently.
I prefer the larger size horsehair brushes. Many places (like the local Allen Edmond stores) carry the 6" size as their large, but I really like the 8" brushes. They actually measure something like 8.25" or 8.5". I bought an 8" Florsheim brush some 15 yrs ago that I LOVE. I wish I bought several as it was something like $5. However, a recent ebay search came up with two of the exact same brushes (likely the same age) for $10 shipped for the pair. I clicked the BIN link immediately! My original brush is the one with the ruler.
I find that the Allen Edmond branded brushes are also pretty good and reasonably priced. I use a different brush for black and brown polish. I use separate smaller Allen Edmond brushes for leather conditioner like Obenauf LP (leather preservative) on yet another different brush for cleaning dirt and salt off shoe before I polish.
Clockwise from top left:
Red Cap for water dispenser
Water dispenser. This is a completely unnecessary item. It's no different than tapping your cloth in a drop of water. I first saw it in a shoeshine video w/the hip japanese dude, then found it at amazon. It's designed for solvent. Note, I use only naturally distilled water from a Hawaiian volcano. I think if I combine my secret volcanic water with the virgin's hymen...I'll be unstoppable
Polishes - Kiwi wax polish, various Allen Edmond wax & cream polishes (not pictured). Also not pictured is edge dressing in black & brown.
Polishing cloths - blue microfiber cloth for buffing, strips of white tee shirt used to apply polish and cotton flannel polishing cloths (came with a travel shoecare kit).
Horsehair daubers - used along the welt and for brogueing.
Here are is what the tools, used properly, can do, and how @patrick_b did it, in his own words:
The Allen Edmond Kenilworth is a Fall 2011 model, picked them up this week at the Freeport, ME AE outlet while traveling for business. I took advantage of the "Rediscover America" sale which was 15% off factory 2nd price. I also bought a small travel shoe care kit containing a small horsehair brush, 2 horsehair daubers, polishing cloths and 2 jars of the AE branded wax polish (not the tubes of cream). While in my hotel, I applied a couple coats of the AE wax. Those initial coats looked better than right out of the box however, without my cloths, brushes, etc. in my shine kit at home, results were less than stellar.
I figured I'd have at 'em when I got home for the week so this morning, while listening to another hour long conf call, I applied ~3 coats of regular ole brown Kiwi wax, using the 'bulling' method I outlined above. I tried the same thing while in the hotel but I didn't have my preferred cheapie microfiber polishing cloths or my BIG horsehair brushes. When I have all my 'stuff', they came out like this:
I liked the burnishing/antiquing on the toe. It's apparent when new but it really pops when you get a few coats of wax on it. The transition area is much less evident in person than in the above images. In any event, I'm liking these even more now that they are adequately shiny.
Everything in this article was originally posted in our Official Shoe Care Thread. Have a question and can't find an answer? Want to contribute your knowledge to the community? Try here: http://www.styleforum.net/t/228153/the-official-shoe-care-thread-tutorials-photos-etc