Brush Guide - Chisels

Brush Guide – Chisels

Brush Guide – Sign Writing Chisels

Here at Handover we have a lot of brushes, and that can be quite overwhelming when you come to buy your first signwriting brushes! This post is the start of a series where I will explain the differences between each of our brushes so you can make the right decision – starting with lettering chisels!

Handover’s signwriting chisels have been appreciated by signwriters, ticket writers and lettering artists for over 60 years. The brushes are offered in several lengths of hair and are available in sable, sable mixtures including ox or sometimes synthetic, and new high-quality synthetic hairs.

Anatomy of a brush

Different hairs are offered for a few reasons, back in the 50’s and 60’s sable/ox mix was popular because sable was proportionally a lot more expensive than in the ’80s. The cost of sable has been rapidly increasing since the early 2000s and we are now seeing a return to the brushes that were popular 70 years ago. The addition of ox hair also makes the brush more durable.

All of our ferrules conform to the standard British brush sizing, as laid out by the British Standards Institution, first published in 1956

Lettering Chisels – A chisel edge, medium length hair, and a round ferrule is the ideal brush for lettering. This allows the brush to create flat strokes for lettering by pulling down the strokes and the round ferrule allows it to be twisted between the fingers and lifted to taper the line, making it perfect for serifs and sharp edges.

Our most popular brush series is the 2112. We have been making these brushes since the 1950’s and very little has changed. They are made from the finest 100% pure Kolinsky sable hair which offers a high level of response and control, and are set in nickel-plated ferrules on black polished handles.

Hair lengths:
00 = 21mm hair length
0 = 21mm hair length
001 = 22mm hair length
002 = 23mm hair length
003 = 26mm hair length
004 = 29mm hair length
005 = 32mm hair length
006 = 36mm hair length
007 = 37mm hair length
008 = 40mm hair length
009 = 42mm hair length
010 = 43mm hair length
012 = 44mm hair length

This design is ideal for lettering, so aswell as the sable 2112 we offer the same design in a number of different hair types:
2112A – a 50/50 sable mix.
333 – a toray synthetic fibre. This gives the brush more spring than its traditional sable hair equivalent.`
Series K – a new synthetic hair that mimics sable (these are my personal favourite! Not too springy, not too soft – the goldilocks of brushes, and they’re vegan too!)

At this point it is also worth mentioning the 2111 series, it is a similar style brush, but is only available in larges sizes and is made from very fine ox hair, making it extremely heardwearing. These are idea for large facias, and for larger lettering generally. 

The 2108 series are the same kolinsky sable but in a slightly shorter hair length

0 = 18mm hair length
001 = 19mm hair length
002 = 21mm hair length
003 = 24mm hair length
004 = 25mm hair length
005 = 28mm hair length
006 = 31mm hair length
007 = 34mm hair length
008 = 36mm hair length
010 = 39mm hair length
012 = 41mm hair length

Quills

A number of our brushes are available in quills, this means that instead of a metal ferrule, the hair is set in traditional birds quills and on unvarnished handles (the quills are all genuine bird quills taken from ducks, geese, and swans) – In the past, it was common for people to buy just the quill and bristle part of the brush and attach it to their own handles.

Due to being set in quills, these ranges are traditionally sized by bird!

In quill we have two chisels, the 2116 series are pure sable, and the 2114 series are a 50/50 sable mix.

0001/Crow = 22mm hair length
002/Small Duck = 25mm hair length
003/Duck = 28mm hair length
004/Large Duck = 30mm hair length
005/Small Goose = 33mm hair length
006/Goose = 36 hair length
007/Large Goose = 39mm hair length
008/Extra Small Swan = 40mm hair length
009/Small Swan = 42mm hair length
010/Swan = 45mm hair length
011/Large Swan = 48mm hair length
0/12Condor = 50mm hair length
0/14Large Condor = 52mm hair length

Ticket writers – These offer the same chisel edge and round ferrule but with a shorter hair length which is ideal for poster and showcard work where speed is essential.

The 2100 and 2101 series are popular ticket writers, these were popular for writing ‘sale tickets’ in department stores and are now popular with anyone who requires an easy to control and responsive lettering brush. 2100 is pure sable and 2101 is a sable mix.

Hair lengths:
00 = 14mm hair length
0 = 16mm hair length
001 = 16mm hair length
002 = 19mm hair length
003 = 22mm hair length
004 = 23mm hair length
005 = 25mm hair length
006 = 27mm hair length
007 = 29mm hair length
008 = 31mm hair length
009 = 32mm hair length
010 = 34mm hair length
012 = 38mm hair length

The shortest chisel is the 2102 series, again this is a sable hair

00 = 13mm hair length
0 = 13mm hair length
001 = 14mm hair length
002 = 16mm hair length
003 = 219mm hair length
004 = 21mm hair length
005 = 23mm hair length
006 = 25mm hair length
007 = 26mm hair length
008 = 29mm hair length
009 = 31mm hair length
010 = 32mm hair length
012 = 34mm hair length

Alongside our own brushes, we also stock the Mack & Meyer Mop and Snapper. Created as a collaboration between Sign Painter Mike Meyer and Mack Brush in the USA, the Mop is synthetic and the Snapper is Brown Kazan Squirrel hair, this makes this brush incredibly soft and best suited to smooth surfaces such as glass or automotive surfaces.

The Kafka Kwills, developed by Steve Kafka, are a mixture of synthetic and natural hair.

I don’t want to end this post without an honorable mention of the beautiful David Kynaston Roman & Copperplate brush set. This set contains 3 pointed brushes, and 3 chisels and comes in a stunning handmade display and carry box, crafted by David himself. It also contains classical alphabet sheets, and a plaster, as you’re sure to cut yourself on the sharp edges you’ll be painting!

I hope this post has been helpful, you can shop our range of chisels here.
As always, please feel free to send any questions to me at info@handover.co.uk