Introduction: Goat Hair Brush

Hi guys, thank you for checking my first Instructables. I actually documented it during my first try of making a brush.

I am a product designer and after making some cheese and soaps from our home goat milk I decided to actually do something with their hair. As the first thing, I need to tell you I actually didn't read much about brush making prior to this experiment- there is not that many resources-sooo I actually found out afterwards that for brush making there is special kind of goat that has really long coat. So this was my first mistake as my goats have just around 5 cm long hairs. Brushes from goat are really fine and are used mostly as baby, or cancer patients hair brushes, for cleaning and polishing boots and also as face dry brush. They are big in painting brushes and also in makeup brushes. I didn't find out if English has different wording for this and that type of brush so please correct me if I am wrong. Natural bristle brushes are great for static in the hair as they don't produce it as much as synthetic bristles do. Also when we talk about the brush we need to talk about the wood used. If you know that it will be in a wet environment you can use olive wood alternatively use something you feel good about oiling


piece of wood, goat hair, glues

Step 1: Making Brush Handle From Wood

I decided to have this organic shape that you can hold comfortably in your hand without the prolonged handle. I just found some scrap pieces that looked usable and drew the shape on wood from the top and shorter and longer sides. Then I cut out the basic shape with a band saw For some cleaning the cut I used sanding machine, chisel, and for finishing shape I used hand rotary tool. I also sanded it to smoothness with some sanding papers. The shape is not as I imagined, but my big sanding machine actually burned in the process so I didn't take off as much material and dint filled that much.

Step 2: Making Holes

This part was actually some fun. I decided to design holes pattern in Adobe illustrator. I think you don't need to go this fancy in getting you holes spacing right as the should be buried under bristles and nobody can tell any difference, but for me, it seemed as faster process than drawing them by hand.

  1. First thing you need to do is to take a photo of your piece of wood from top
  2. create A4 illustrator document
  3. Import your photo into Illustrator and trace the object using only black and white
  4. Explode the tracing
  5. Get rid of everything except your shape
  6. Simplify the path
  7. get rid of inside colour and put a black stroke
  8. turn on the ruler and resize your stroke to make sure your stroke and your piece of wood are the same sizes
  9. You should take the stroke, copy it and resize it into the middle of the big stroke
  10. Pick both shapes outlines and use steps
  11. Set the steps at something that feel right
  12. Now you need to apply for smaller and bigger strokes some dots pattern stroke
  13. Find it and edit it for the appropriate size of holes( best if the same as the size of your bit) and the spacing of holes
  14. Now you can edit the number of steps- outlines and also you can still edit dotted stroke so everything feels right if you want to get your holes really precisely, you can explode the whole object, select the most outer stroke and put back basic stroke on it, this way you know where to cut and where to stick
  15. Print, cut and stick on your piece of wood

Step 3: Drilling Holes

Best to use your driller with a stand. Put tape on how far your drill bit should go into the wood. I put it around 1cm and have been quite happy with the dept.

  1. Drill it, get rid of the paper and sand it
  2. Vacuum the holes to get rid of paper and sawdust

Step 4: Oiling the Piece

After this, you shouldn't forget to oil or coat the piece as you don't want to get oil on your bristles. I used linseed kitchen oil and it turned out quite well. I forgot and did it after inserting bristles, so the side where bristles are inserted isn't oiled.

Step 5: Getting Your Bristles

You can skip these next 3 steps if you are buying your bristles. You can get your goat bristles on eBay or amazon but beware of animal cruelty from unverified sources. No idea how it is with other animals as boar but I know that the bristles are far more coarse and thicker. But I cannot imagine getting it from boar without killing it, so sticking with a goat!

Step 6: Cutting Hair

I used my mum hair cutting machine, she was not happy about it, nor was my father on which it is used. You find the place where the hair looks long and where the animal will not miss it that much. They didn't seem to mind the cutting. Don't do this in the winter if you live in a colder climate, your goat needs that hair to keep warm. I set it on the shortest and started shaving against hair. If you can collect it in strands it can save you some work. One thing I found out is that young animals have really softer hair, but shorter, also lice! This one was the best time to check if your animal is healthy. For one brush you would need to have something like 20- 30 cm2 of hair cut.

Step 7: Cleaning

Yeap you need clean it really thoughtfully, you never know what parasites can be there. I clean it with hot water and soap, but the right way to do this is actually to boil it. Commercially bought hair often have a claim they have been cooked 3 times. Also, my brush bristles still have an animal smell, not something completely unpleasant, but if you plan it to touch face or head you should do this step. I also think I could add some shampoo to make it smell more pleasantly. If you have the luck to get your hair in pretty stands you should connect them before you start cleaning them. I would use some string to hold them together. Dry your bristles using a paper towel

Step 8: Getting Bristles All Neat

So now you have a bunch of goat hair, you need some fine comb. Get some hair between your pointer and thumb and comb from both sides until no hair is coming out and put aside. This is a painstakingly long process. After while you will notice that all bristles you try to comb are pretty short so when you got to this point all that is left can be discarded as waste.

Step 9: Making Strands

The way I imagined would work best for making strands is sewing line of them together, putting some glue to connect individual hair together and then cutting treat to make individual strands. Looked simple but in the end, didn't really work that well. I would completely leave out using a sewing machine and cut the ends from one side to make more or less even strand and then put some quite thin glue that you want to use. Another mistake I did is that after sewing them I actually cut the strands in the middle. This also sounds like a good idea as I get all the bristles on the bottom and there shouldn't be many bristles falling out, but it ended in having shorter bristles than I wanted with a lot of them being really short near the wood. I actually make the mistake of connecting the bristles with superglue and that created something that smelled really bad- the hair gets scorched and was rock hard and unable to insert when I cut it for the shape I could insert, I lost too many hairs, and there wasn't any space to insert more, so I ended up with thinly filled holes. I am also not sure that the bristle will not break as the superglue really get some reaction going there.

Step 10: ​Preparing the Wood

I would put paper tape around the edge of outer holes all around the outline as your hand can get pretty sticky from glue a while handling you could make yourself some additional sanding work. We would be starting from the middle. Put glue into the holes with precise pipe dropper best to start at 20 at the time- test how fast is your glue drying and how fast you are working

Step 11: Inserting Bristles

So I just skip all my trials end error and tell you what worked best for me. I used this long jewellery tweezers. You pick a strand of bristles from a big bunch and stick together at one end of bristles, the glue shouldn't be too dry. You should pick the strand around 1 cm from the end. Cut to make the end even and leave around 5 mm. Put some additional glue if needed and insert the tweezers into a hole. Release the tension from the tweezers and if during pulling out hair get puled too, just hold on them. You may need to repeat the inserting more times to make the hole really full.

Step 12: Finishing

Let dry thoughtfully cut to the desired length to look half decent and vacuum clean to get rid of all the loose hair. You will find out how is your glue holding. I think I lost nearly half of all the hair in this process- defiantly updating my glue list next time.

Tadaa. ready to brush!

This whole process took me around 10 hours.

Resources you can find on youtube that can be helpful for you:

  • Guys making bear brush from boar hair. A quite nice video they are hand inserting bristles.

How to Make a Beard Brush | GIACO by Giaco Whatever

  • Traditional brush making in Japan. They actually make a wood part from two stuck parts, so they can use wire and fold long strands in half to insert it through the wire. This technique I would love to use next:

Highly-Durable Brushes whose Bristles were Hand-Inserted | Tokyo Teue Brush (Handmade Brushes) by Woodworking Enthusiasts

  • Making brush from a wig. Except for exceptional craftsmanship and creativity, you can find a nice feeder of hair to make strands- I think something for making cake frosting looks similar. Also scorching the hair end looked as a time-saving idea but didn't work that well for goat hair:

Making a Foot-Shoe Shine Brush by Uri Tuchman