If you've avoided buying high-quality paint brushes because you can never get them clean enough for consistent reuse, this DIY three-stage brush cleaner will help give your brushes a long and productive life.
Craig Smith, a Make reader, designed a clever three-stage system for cleaning brushes. He writes:
Did you know:
(1) Most people buy the cheap disposable paint brushes because they don't want to clean the expensive one-coat brush, or have been burned before by losing an expensive brush to improper cleaning.
(2) Most people clean a brush poorly in a one soak paint thinner process, leaving lots of paint residue in the brush, therefore ruining it.
(3) Most people pour a cup of paint thinner in a jar, clean the brush (poorly) and dump the thinner.
I made a 3-stage paint thinner jar/rack system that eliminates all of this. The top board has 4" circles cut out of it with a circle cutting bit, the bottom board has 3 ¾" holes so the jars cannot fall through. Four dowels glued in hold the rack together. The jars should be filled no more than 1/3 full. After several weeks of sitting, the oil based paints will fall out/settle on the bottom of the jars. The now clear thinner can be carefully poured into a container, the settled paint sludge cleaned out of the jars, and the thinner poured back in. One quart of paint thinner will last me dozens of brush cleanings with excellent results, minimal waste and I'm now buying the high quality paint brushes for superior results to use them over and over.
Knowing what a hassle mucking about with paint thinner can be, we're impressed with both the compactness and efficiency of his system. Check out the full article at the link below to check out Craig's workshop. If you have a handy trick or DIY guide to share, let's hear about it in the comments.
Three-Stage Brush Cleaner [Make]