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Just spotted this on lifehacker.com – a DIY three-stage brush cleaner!

Jason Fitzpatrick reports that for all those people who have always avoided buying good quality paint brushes on the basis that it is difficult to get them clean enough to reuse them alot – someone has come up with the three stage brush cleaner to help you!

This is obviously only for oil-based paint, but Craig Smith, a ‘Make’ reader, has designed the three-stage brush cleaner, and 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.

Craig says ‘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.

So your brush goes through a clean in each jar, and the jars will work on a rotation – can three (the cleanest) becomes can two at some point; can two becomes can one, and can one gets cleaned out to become the new can three with fresh solvent.

Have you come up with any DIY product/time saving ideas? Let us know!


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