Rick Harris is one of the best pinstripers working today. He can production stripe factory cars, He’s striped custom electric guitars for Gibson, he’s hand lettered and striped NASCAR race cars, and more. Over 2 years in the Gibson factory he striped over 1000 custom Les Paul guitars. Back in the 90s when the American car companies had a big problem with delaminating paint, he was one of the guys who tasked with repainting the factory pinstripes perfectly. He came in to the studio and did a live how-to demo with Kevin.
Mack brushes are the standard of the industry and still made in Michigan. They consist of a short handle, the hair, and a ferrule to hold them together. They only work in one direction, so there is a bump in the ferrule that should always be on the right side when you hold it. When held properly the hair, which has a straight edge and a curved edge, will have the curved edge on the bottom.
Eastwood also sells Kafka brushes, created to the specifications of another of the current masters of hand striping, Steve Kafka. These brushes are a little different than the traditional style designs that Mac sells. They were designed with an emphasis on making it easier to turn corners and less likely to flare out and make a wider line. They are designed to be longer lasting and most use a combination of natural and synthetic hairs.
There are different lengths and thicknesses of brush available from both manufacturers. Of course, a thicker brush makes a thicker line. A longer brush, like a longer wheelbase car, is better for going in a straight line. A short brush is much better for making tight corners and scrolls. With a little practice you’ll know how straight or tight you can stripe with a given brush
Most pinstriping/sign painting brushes are made out of squirrel hair. Squirrel hair is very fine and flexible, and it holds a lot of paint. There are new synthetic hair brushes available, but they don’t hold as much paint, and they don’t flow as well as the traditional natural hair versions. Kafka’s brushes typically use a proprietary blend of natural and synthetic fibers to provide the stiffness and flow he wanted.
Brushes should be looked at as a consumable, if you are going to do good quality stripes. Once a few hairs fall out, more will start to fall out and more often, just like on your head. Just pick them off the stripes before the paint can dry, or leave them as a sign that this was a real hand painted stripe. In the hands of a man who does a lot of striping like Rick, a bush will be done after just a few weeks of continuous usage. If he can continue to use the same brush for a month, he lucked into a very good brush.
Not quite a brush, but more of a roller, is the Beugler Wheel is sometimes called the “cheater stripe”. It consists of a small container that you fill with paint, a wheel that rolls the paint out in a measured amount as you go. There is no shame in using one of these tools, and often times they are used when applying traditional stripes down the length of a car, or along the rails of a boat trailer. They are very good at putting down long, consistent, straight stipes, but not very good if you have to make sharp bends.
You fill the back of the Beugler with paint and use the plunger to pressurize it slightly. Then it is just a matter of rolling out a line of paint, or 2, or 3, with one of the attachments. The Beugler even has an adjustable guide arm that you can use to follow body lines and edges. For laying down stripes where there is no guide line, Eastwood sells rolls of flexible magnetic edge which stick to the side of the vehicle.
The brush is just one third of the striping equation though, you also need the right paint, and the right technique. Read on the next few blog posts for some helpful advice in those areas.