About: I'm a Creative Director/Designer/Photographer always thinking and always creating. Inside and outside the box. I opened up El Cafecito Culture were I get to design, create and produce merchandising items aimed…

I love working with stains, varnishes and oil based paints. To achieve great results you need to have the "right tools" for the job. When it comes to brushes, the better the quality, the better the results. The better they are, the more $$$ they cost. Quality doesn't come cheap.

Protecting and making them last in great working condition requires having the "right tools" to do it. I will show you how to build an excellent Paint Brush "Survival Tool Kit" to help keep your "investments" in top shape! This is a much better and inexpensive alternative to what you will find out there for $$$ to pay.

So let's get started!!


A coffee can (or similar) with a plastic lid, a sharp cutter, a plastic food container with lid, washer with 3/8" hole, newspaper sheets, your brushes and a ruler. You will also need a portable power drill with a 5/16" bit, epoxy glue and Mineral Spirits.

Step 2: Building Your "Washing Machine"

Remove the coffee can's lid and place it OVER the brush's handle with the widest part in the center of it. Make the cut with the opening wide and long enough for the handle to go through it. Most brush handles are about the same. Make the cut approximately 1" x 5/8", it works well for most brush handle sizes.

TIP: I have several lids with larger openings for bigger handle sizes. You'll need a larger can with lid for bigger brushes.

Step 3: Building the "Storage Unit" for the Brushes

Use a food storage container with lid that will accommodate the brushes you want to safeguard. Remove lid and on one of the container ends, make an incision on three sides big and wide enough to allow for two brush handles (for saving storage space) to go through the opening. For the brushes I'm using for this project, an opening 1.5" x 1.25 works great!

TIP: DO NOT REMOVE THE FLAP! It will create a slight pressure on the handles when you insert them through the opening for storage.

Step 4: Creating the Hole for Hanging the Unit

Position the washer at bottom of container. Apply epoxy and center it as shown at opposite end of the flap. Allow it to dry. Once it's nice and secured, go ahead and drill through the hole using a 5/16" drill bit.

TIP: Drill from the inside out.

Step 5: Time to Clean Your Brush

Fill your can with Mineral Spirits enough to submerge the bristles. Place your brush in the can, pushing it in a downward motion, moving it in various directions multiple times to bend the bristles and allow the Mineral Spirits to penetrate and begin to break down the varnish, stain or paint used. Keep doing it until you can see that the bristles are looking cleaner. Go ahead and place the lid on the can allowing the handle to go through the opening. With the lid on, push down on the bristles several more times. Grab the can and agitate it in a circular motion and in opposite directions (Like a washing machine). Stop and leave the brush immersed inside the can for an hour (or more depending on what you used) to thoroughly break down and clean the bristles.

If you're satisfied with how the bristles look, clean brush overall with a rag, place the lid back on and insert the brush in the opening, allowing it to air out in preparation of the next step.

TIP: When using heavier substances such as paints or varnishes, you may need to discard the initial batch of Spirits and repeat the process with a clean refill.

Step 6: "IT'S a WRAP!" Preparing Your Brushes for Storage

Cut a sheet from a newspaper wide and long enough to roll the brush in it in order to create a tight "cover" for it. Be sure you keep rolling the paper tightly against the brush. Once the rolling is complete, use your hand to press down on the paper. Get a feel for where the end of the brush is and at that spot, go ahead and fold over the flap as shown. This will create a tight compartment for the brush and preserve its shape.

TIP: Newspaper, because of its qualities makes it an ideal material to protect your brushes while in storage.

Step 7: "CASE CLOSED!!" You're Now Ready to Put Your Brushes Away!

Get your food container and insert the brushes through the flap opening you made. Allow the brushes to rest comfortably inside the container. Place the lid and close the container. Congratulations, your project is complete and ready to keep or hang in your favorite working area!!

TIP: The Mineral Spirits absorbed by the newspaper act as a lubricant protector for the brush and bristles inside the closed "Storage Unit" you built.

Step 8: Cleaning Your "washing Machine" Plus Tips

If the Mineral Spirits you used where for a small job, chances are you can still salvage it and use it again.

TIP: One way I "recycle" it is by filtering it through a fine strainer cloth into a clean jar for later use (large pickle jars work great!).

Use a clean cloth to remove all residue from inside the can, place the lid back on it and store it until you do your next "wash".

Remember to discard the Mineral Spirits in a safe manner. Let's protect our environment, KEEP IT CLEAN!