Last December I wrote about getting a Brush Mate, which is a simple plastic box in which you hang paint brushes, and containing a chemical pad which prevents the paint from drying on the brush. Phil Speight recommended it to me.
At that time I hadn't actually used mine, but now after a long term trial I can report back, and I can honestly say it is simply superb.
I first used it in May, when I was retouching Herbie's gunwales with black paint. Finishing the job, I just hung the brush in the box - no cleaning - and every time I need to cover up a scratch I just take the brush out of the box and off we go. Very often there is enough wet paint in the brush to do a small job without even having to open the paint tin! What's more, because the brush hangs in a vapour, not a liquid, you can hang a paint with red paint next to a brush with black paint next to a brush with green paint next to . . .
The brush has now hung there for 6 months and the paint is still wet on the brush!! I really should change the chemical pad now I suppose. Replacement pads cost about £3. The box itself which holds four brushes costs about £12. I bought mine from http://www.trade1st.co.uk/
Not only does it make keeping touch up brushes ready for use really easy, it also saves a lot of time and mess in cleaning brushes AND saves on brush cleaning fluids. Looking after brushes is not the most enjoyable part of painting, and failing to look after them is expensive. This gadget does away with all that.
Downside? 1. Varnished brush handles will lose their varnish, but I've taken to using the lovely Purdy brushes which happen to be unvarnished anyway. 2. Brushmate only works with oil based paints and varnishes, so not with modern household paints where you clean brushes in water.