View Full Version : Reusing epxoy covered brushes
07-24-2003, 06:04 AM
I have been doing searches on this forum for the subject mentioned, but no useable threads came up.
I would like to now if it is possible to store brushes (or rollers for that matter) after using them to apply epoxy, and use them again.
I can vaguely remember something with vinnigar but I am not sure (or what kind)
Thanks for any input
07-24-2003, 06:38 AM
Having now used well over 130 litres of epoxy (West and Bote Cote) and probably 200 brushes and 30 rollers on the restoration of Grantala - I'll get really annoyed if someone has a solution to this problem.
I tried vinegar - didn't work. In the end I figured it was cheaper and easier to look out for specials on brushes - my last 25, I paid $1 each - the previous 50, I got for 50 cents each. My first 100 were free (a friend worked at a brush manufacturing company and brought home the production rejects for me). Its the $8 rollers I hate.
07-24-2003, 06:39 AM
you can clean them out with alcohol or acetone before the epoxy sets up.
07-24-2003, 06:51 AM
First, clean them with a solvent-gasoline is good. Then clean them with vinegar. Vinegar is not a solvent for epoxy, but emulsifies it. This combination cleans brushes so they will stay flexible on drying, though storing in vinegar is good, too.
07-24-2003, 09:21 AM
The trouble with cheap chip brushes is they shed brisles the first time they are used. So I use one, cuss a bit, pick off the brisles and when through I take it through two acetone or MEK baths, shake it out and lay it aside. Next time the bristle are a bit stiff but they work out enough to be useable. Nice thing is the brisles are now firmly glued in place. The second, third and mayby fourth use is possible before they get to stiff. Toss and repeat. Also toss the first MEK bath, move 2 to 1 and get a fresh 2.
I once put some glacial acetic acid in epoxy hardner and got a violent reaction. I think there is something more than emulsification going on when vinegar is used to clean burshes. I don't like the result. The brush is a little gummy or I have to spend way more time than the brush is worth washing it with soap and water.
Harbor Freight often has chip brushes cheap.
07-24-2003, 09:30 AM
Of course you can use them. They make VERY good light duty dead-blow hammers.
I tried to clean some epoxy brushes one (I belive with acetone) and they still set up hard. So maybe I will try the techniques listed here. Normally what I do is buy the cheap brushes at Harbour Freight by the box and use them one time.
07-24-2003, 09:49 AM
I must be doing something wrong - I use plastic spreaders to get the epoxy around as that puts it down more smoothy and evenly than any brush or roller I ever used.
On wood you want it nicely spread. Same with building depth as when filling in the weave on glass.
I just pour or trowel some epoxy in the general area and start spreading. Once it's around a bit I work nice long strokes with the spreader angled like a snow plough to ease the excess towards a bare area but I have the leading (to the finished area) edge a little less loaded with my hand pressure so that the spreader leaves no line.
It's especially good for putting down cloth as you can quickly wet out the surface and lay the cloth as the cure starts. That will hold it enough that smoothing is easy and wetting out with the next coat, if done right away, will get out any voids or bubbles. The spreader won't disturb the lay of the glass as you work.
This will give you a fast spread that's thin enough that there's no tendency to 'rope' or dimple as it cures and diminished tendency to sag or drip.
Rollers put it on too thickly and pick up glass as you go over. Brushes streak and also put it on too thickly. Both gocompletely useless as the epoxy kicks, which means rollers and brushes have no utility in working verticle and overhead surfaces - everyone's nightmare but a reality to be faced.
Have a nice collection of spreaders - three or four of every size if you work long hours. When one gets too much hardening epoxy just set it aside. Cleaning is literally a snap when you bend/crack the cured epoxy off the spreader the next day.
[ 07-24-2003, 09:57 AM: Message edited by: Ian McColgin ]
07-24-2003, 10:04 AM
Well yes but.... tongue.gif
Say your are glueing up a birds mouth spar and want to spread raw epoxy on the surfaces prior to putting down the thickened epoxy. Or your are scarfing together pieces to make the eight staves long enough. Etc. Otherwise, for sure, the squeege is the tool to choose. I have been known to use the stir stick to put epoxy on a scarf joint if it isn't too big and probably on a scarf edge of sheet of plywood.
What ever works, eh.
07-24-2003, 10:07 AM
While I bascially agree with Ian, I do find that there are times when a brush is the only tool that will get to a particular spot. As far as cleaning epoxy brushes goes, my thinking is that time spent trying to clean the brushes, the cost and health hazards of the solvents, and the hassles of trying to responsibly get rid of used solvent, more than outweight the cost of the brushes. On occasion, what does work for me if I have only used the brush lightly is to let the epoxy cure and then cut off the end of the bristles to get back to clean bristles.
07-24-2003, 10:16 AM
I started out using acetone, like I was directed, but found that denatured alcohol works better. I think it's also less volatile than acetone, meaning it doesn't evaporate quickly while using it.
But there's a point in the reaction(help me out here chemist) where nothing you do is going to recover that brush. Once that stuff starts to get even a little gummy, nothing I could do would clean it and it's probably a dead brush. Every one that I throw away gets a big "I'm sorry, nothing I can do."
07-24-2003, 10:24 AM
Yep, for glue layups I use what I call acid brushes - get 'em by the gross (more or less) about a penny a piece.
Cost more to clean than to toss.
07-24-2003, 11:18 AM
Don't tell my wife this but if I know I'll need to do more epoxy spreading in the near future, I stick the brush in a ziploc and shove it into the freezer. It's still pliable weeks later if you do your best to remove the exess by brushing it onto newspaper. The relative costs of say 0.25 litres of acetone and a single chip brush makes cleaning a no-go for me.
07-24-2003, 12:44 PM
For chip brushes I have a gallon paint can with acetone that I'll just put them in and close the lid. Next time when I put one in I take the last one out and let it dry of course you want to dab it around a bit to get the epoxy out as much as possible first. I only do this with brushes that I've used with just epoxy and ones that have been used with thickners and the like just get tossed.
I usually get a few uses out of them but as folks said above its hardly worth much effort considering the cost if you buy them in bulk.
I use Wooster candy stripe rollers and there again you can certainly clean them for several uses but it does take time to pre scrape out the bulk of epoxy ( which can be used for fillets etc.) and several dunkings in the acetone, then wrap with paper. Even with the cost of the Wooster rollers
I quite often just toss them. Lazy sometimes.
You also must consider the hazzards of acetone which is what works best. Don't get it on your skin and don't use it around open flame etc.
07-25-2003, 12:27 AM
for the last 10 years or so I have cleaned up brushes with methylated spirits, no problems.
07-26-2003, 03:14 AM
Thanks very much for your wise advises. I will try some of them, AND will look out for wholesale suppliers of brushes.
07-26-2003, 05:51 PM
Cheap brushes are just that - cheap. My liver ain't. Any way I can avoid going near acetone, MEK or any other of those particularly narsty substances I will. After 25 years in the biz I am extremely protective of my bod and would rather drop an extra dollar than muck around washing out a $2 brush in $1's worth of MEK, which incidentally accumulates in your liver and probably lots of other vital organs.
Even a little bit of painting without a respirator kicks off my reactive system with the resulting headaches etc., and I know I'm not alone. I have an ex-boatbuilding buddy in BC who can't even go into his old shop without his lips and nose getting inflamed, a result of too many years of exposure to epoxy.
Save your life, not your bucks.
07-26-2003, 07:12 PM
Flexible stainless steel blades don't suffer from epoxy retention. The quality is higher and the finishing is reduced I find, when using a blade rather than a brush or roller.
In fact I haven't put a roller or brush in epoxy for over two years. There are always other approaches that can work well over a brush and epoxy.
ps, I just had a pop-up that informed me, that I was the 10,000,000 visitor to this (?) site. Which has just won me 2,000 US dollars, to be spent on travel within the US, :eek: . The thought of repeated body searches, and detention without charges or representation, puts me off taking up this most fabulous offer.
[ 07-26-2003, 07:49 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]
07-27-2003, 08:24 PM
That's funny, I got the same message last week but immediately binned it as spam.
07-28-2003, 10:58 AM
Sorry to say there actually is a way to clean and reuse cheaply (seems to work - I've tested - 99% certain).
We sell something called trowel aid, actual lybenzyl alcohol which is in a lot of epoxies. Feels like baby oil, does not evaporate (or not very fast). I keep it in an lidless jar. Soak brushes, tools in it overnight or longer. Works like a very very slow solvent. Cheap too. I use it to clean my epoxy scoops etc. Never tried a brush or roller until this weekend (after reading this thread) but test brush seemed to work fine.
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