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Tiny brushes

I found these at the chemist's shop

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Sam Stones22/08/2011 03:04:44
880 forum posts
326 photos

Approaching completion of my clock, I have at times resorted to using toothpicks, BBQ skewers, cotton buds, and various other `household’ implements.

I found these at the local chemist.

They are called Interdental Brushes, and have proved most useful in poking out dirt from the smaller pivot holes in my clock frames.

A `mixed pack’ of six cost about AU$8, and their size range is noted as 0.4mm to 0.8mm. However, that appears to be the size over the twisted wire, since the largest (0.8mm), is 5mm overall diameter measured over the bristles.

The inset shows their full shape, and a handy little extension piece.

Regards to all,


blister22/08/2011 22:11:48
28 forum posts
3 photos
Hi Sam
Absolutely brilliant Sam.I am doing a 'wheels up' rebuild on a Douglas 10" Shaper at the moment and these will be perfect to clean out the oil holes.
Wondered how I was going to do that
Problem solved.
Sam Stones22/08/2011 22:52:20
880 forum posts
326 photos

Hi Phil,

I’m pleased to know someone else can find a use for them.
The packet is marked `Made in Sweden’, and there is a recommendation on the back of the packet that the brush itself should not be bent back and forth.

Although I haven’t determined what material the bristles are made from, I suspect that they are Nylon.

There’s a fair degree of (relative) stiffness in the twisted wire, but clearly, it would be wise to take care to avoid breaking any in your oil holes.

Good luck,


Edited By Sam Stones on 22/08/2011 22:53:17

blister23/08/2011 21:10:19
28 forum posts
3 photos
Thanks Sam,
the plan is to first use a drill bit by hand then spray some 'Tool Cleaner' in the hole, blow this out with air then a final sweep with the brushes. Shafts out of course. The 'Tool Cleaner works well but there always seems to be something left.
I never would have thought to go to the chemist for engineering tools.
Sam Stones23/08/2011 23:02:55
880 forum posts
326 photos

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your comments.

Since I’m amongst men accustomed to getting their hands dirty, I thought it wise to clarify the point about the chemist’s shop.

I didn’t actually go there for the purpose of buying engineering tools. It was less embarrassing to wait for the dispensary to put together my prescription by standing near the dental displays, rather than where they keep their suppositories and rubber gloves.

That’s when I spotted the tooth brushes.
Have fun
Enough!24/08/2011 02:08:24
1719 forum posts
1 photos
That’s when I spotted the tooth brushes.
Have fun
. It was less embarrassing to wait for the dispensary to put together my prescription by standing near the dental displays, rather than where they keep their suppositories and rubber gloves.
Then you probably won't like my suggestion for perhaps slightly larger brushes. For some years now I've been using the ladies' mascara brushes for cleaning tapped (and plain) holes from around .100" dia up.
(No, I don't ask for them myself - I get my wife to buy them)
Sam Stones24/08/2011 04:56:51
880 forum posts
326 photos
Thanks Chuck,
For me, this business of clock making has generated several other instances which could attract embarrassment. Again, they have required wandering through the ladies departments. While making hair-springs, I had planned on dissolving super glue with nail-polish remover. So where would you get that stuff? As it turned out, the chemical action was not as brisk as I wanted.
I also wanted a pair of special eyebrow tweezers, with broad flat jaws. It took ages wandering back and forth until I found just the right sort.
The tips of these were to be modified so that I could squeeze tapered dowel-pins into place, or by reversing the tweezers, the pins could be extracted. I had already appropriated a pair of tweezers from SWAMBO, and altered them for bending the hair-spring of the clock.
The only thing more embarrassing, is dropping a 12BA x 3mm long brass screw on the garage floor, when I don’t have a replacement.
More fun,
Ian S C24/08/2011 11:44:03
7468 forum posts
230 photos
I keep a mascara brush in the container of Copper Cote anti sieze. Three sizes of bottle brush, I think the smaller of those is a test tube brush, and its a good idea tohave a tooth brush in with the taps and dies.
Sam , similar things happen to me, I end up crawling around on hands and knees, it helps me to keep a bit of the floor sort of clear. Ian S C
Stub Mandrel24/08/2011 21:45:20
4315 forum posts
291 photos
1 articles

Not quite the same thing, but my wife spotted what looks like a giant electric toothbrush for £2 at a bootsale, with several heads. It did a lovely job on the bathroom tile grout (when I used nicads in it to give it some grunt!) Not sure we will ever get replacement heads for it, biut I've asked her too look for another 1 or 2! ideal for cleaning dirty car bits etc.
Springbok21/10/2011 02:15:33
879 forum posts
34 photos
The wife uses these little brushes in her electric toothbrush she gets them in packs from her local dentist.
Have you thought about ultrasonic cleaning
Ian Welford21/03/2012 19:17:51
299 forum posts

Cotton wool buds are good for getting swarf out. Dip in grease, insert into offending orifice and withdraw along with swarf.

The interdental brushes work well for dilodging jammed bits. By the way- always be nice to your dentist-

1 It hurts less !

2 The have old dental probes which are great for extracting things from holes, cleaning small internal threads etc.


magpie21/03/2012 22:22:55
497 forum posts
98 photos

On the subject of brushes, i use one of the brushes that women use for putting on hair dye, for lots of small cleaning jobs. They have just one row of bristles,about 1 1/2" wide, and are great for cleaning "T" slots ,and lots of other small cleaning jobs

Cheers Derek

CHRIS WOODS 122/03/2012 10:33:45
38 forum posts
3 photos

Emery boards that the ladies use to shape their fingernails are also quite useful and can be found in much the same area. These are on good firm sticks and come very cheaply in packs with differing grit sizes.

The interdental brushes always struck me as being of use in cleaning injector cones.

John Haine22/03/2012 11:14:41
4712 forum posts
273 photos
They are quite good for teeth as well...
Gone Away22/03/2012 14:41:01
829 forum posts
1 photos

Brushes in general: don't forget those round bottle brushes. You can shove them down holes that are a fraction of the brush diameter and they wil scour the hole clean (especially dipped in solven first). Great for cleaning out a long bore on the lathe. I have a 2" dia one that I use to clean chuck bores with. I must have several dozen in various sized hanging on hooks around the shop.

Dollar stores (Pound stores?) are a good source or hardware stores, surplus stores etc. I think one or two of mine came from Wal-Mart. I never turn down the chance to buy one.

As well as bristle or nylon you can get them in brass in some places. As with all "brass" brushes though, make sure you know what you're getting. Many are brass plated steel (which will affect where you want to use them). Check them with a magnet.

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