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Shoe Brushes: Shoji Works, Paul Brunngard, Kirby Allison

prof.contingency

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I am very familiar with all three makes. Shoji brushes are beautifully stained -- I've been to the factory in Japan and can't find anything at fault. Great stuff! They are a bit smaller in size -- which as pros and cons. (maybe more articulation but covers less area)

Paul Brunngard handles are made of solid walnut. They have a integrated magnet inside -- and I think now have the widest range of bristles -- from very soft Yak, Goat, Horse (generic cleaning) to very rigid boar bristles for cleaning. They are meant to be the cream of the crop.

Kirby's are also great -- and I believe made in Germany.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

Disclaimer: We distribute and market Paul Brunngard at Arterton -- but are personal friends with both the Shoji team (whom has made other things for us in the past) and Kirby. Everything said above, I think, is true.
 

lonewitness

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Thanks! How do Shoji compare vs. Brunngard on quality and density of bristles.

In my research folks aren't super pleased with Kirby's stuff
 

BrodieDurden

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lonewitness

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My understanding was the most of Kirby's brushes are machine plugged so not so dense. Paul Brunngard and Shoji are both hand plugged and denser. The quality of hair in Shoji's brushes is apparently the best. This is from messaging a few show YouTubers on social media platforms.
 

BrodieDurden

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I’m
My understanding was the most of Kirby's brushes are machine plugged so not so dense. Paul Brunngard and Shoji are both hand plugged and denser. The quality of hair in Shoji's brushes is apparently the best. This is from messaging a few show YouTubers on social media platforms.
Thanks for the info. I’d only heard of Kirby Allison but the two you mentioned are extremely nice, and good to know about machine plugged.
 
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There will be finishing differences between Shoji & PB, though the main difference is mentioned by prof. above in the sizing.

PB is bigger and has outward-directed bristles meaning it is easier and faster to use with less chance of knicking your shoe with the edge of the handle - a big relief for me personally. It also makes it easy to reach the various crevices of a shoe, like where the last meets the welt.

Shoji will offer more precise use, though it will be more meticulous and you have to be more attentive to even distribution and such. I imagine there is a particular skill in using smaller brushes as well simply to avoid hand-cramping.

To me, Shoji feels very much like a brush for those really interested in the 'art' of meticulous shoe care - or perhaps a professional high-end shoe shiner - where PB is for those who value high-quality craftsmanship, but still want something highly functional. Personally I prefer PB for my needs as I am often in a rush, though I think Shoji makes really special products and I appreciate their clean woodwork.

As another mentioned, the above two are hand-tufted, which is incredibly rare from my research. This results in higher bristle density and less shed, though is something I also appreciate just for the craftsmanship.

KA is really in a different segment of the market and not that comparable, in my opinion. KA is machine-tufted, as mentioned above. While they are solid brushes, I am not particularly convinced they are much different from anything you might find on Amazon for much cheaper, especially factoring in shipping. Saphir makes a nice brush for ~$20 you can get on Amazon.

Here are two videos showcasing each process. Pretty interesting.

Hand-Tufting (6:40 is where the actual tufting happens):

Machine-Tufting:
 

sam67

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Thanks for the info. Any word on Kent? I'm looking to replace not only brushes for shoes but also get a clothes brush. thanks
 
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Thanks for the info. Any word on Kent? I'm looking to replace not only brushes for shoes but also get a clothes brush. thanks
I bought this 2 years ago, use it regularly as a suit brush, and it's still in perfect condition.


I don't know much about Kent broadly, the suit brush market, or how they compare to other options on the market. It's machine-tufted, though it's definitely well made and has worked for me.
 

Duke Santos

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Thanks for the info. Any word on Kent? I'm looking to replace not only brushes for shoes but also get a clothes brush. thanks
Have never used a Kent shoe brush. I, however, do have two clothing brushes (standard and cashmere) from them, and they are exceptional quality.
 

lonewitness

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Have been reading up on this subject quite a bit.

From a craftsmanship standpoint Japanese brushes seem to be the holy grail

From this thread https://www.styleforum.net/threads/edoya-shoe-brushes.666859/

Aoyama Kobo Co. Ltd. 1990 / 青山工房
Boot Black 1919
Edoya / 株式会社江戸屋|刷毛・刷子(ブラシ)製造販売
Fujimoto Tora 1890 / 藤本虎
Hirano Brush aka Burashi No Hirano 1942 / ブラシの平野
Ishikawa Brush / イシカワブラシ
Kanaya Brush / かなや刷子
Kunida Handmade Brush Workshop / 手作りブラシ工房
Miyagawa Brush Mfg. Co. Ltd. / 宮川刷毛(はけ)ブラシ製作所
Shoji Brush Works 1918 - 26 / ショージワークス
Terazawa Brush Mfg. Co. Ltd. / 寺沢ブラシ製作所
Uno Hake 1917*

In the end most brushes will polish the same, but there is a reason all of us are on this forum.

I looked at a few shoji works brushes at a local retailer but I can't tell if they are hand plugged. I don't see the seam which is indicative of a brush being hand plugged.
 

SumGuy

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I am no shoe care expert, and I am here trying to gather information, so please take t his post in that light.

A lot of horsehair shoe brushes say they are of German origin. How many brush manufacturers are there in Germany? From my own web searches, when I look up German shoe brushes, they always come back with Frank Brushes. Are all the various people selling horsehair shoe brushes just re-branding the Frank brushes, or are there other German brush manufacturers out there?

I am not putting down Frank brushes. From what I have been able to dig up, they seem to be very good, and some consider them to be the best (arguable).
 

lonewitness

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@SumGuy You're right. Most sellers are just re-badging stuff.

Even Kirby Allison's yak hair brushes are made by https://dim-berlin.de/

Dim is a project that was established in the year 1998. it is based in an institution for blind workers in the heart of berlin
 

SumGuy

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lonewitness: My searches never brought that link up, thank you for that.

I think most of the re-badged brushes are from Frank (https://www.frank-brushes.de/en/sb/Shoe care brushes/Shoe care brushes/5: Sneaker and Dancing Shoes). They have tons of brushes, and the tons description applies to shoe brushes alone; they show 7 pages of shoe brushes.

I see the following US location carries their brushes: https://easyshoecare.com/product-tag/frank-bursten-germany/ . They show a variety of Frank shoe brushes in terms of size (some all the way to 8" in length) and the have them in horsehair, goat, and pig bristles as well. Not cheap, but if looked after properly (i.e. washed when they have to be), they should last a very long time. No Yak hair, but such is life.
 

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