Hobby Store Find – Microbrushes

I usually find everything I need at craft, art, and beading stores. But recently I went to a small, local hobby store in search of small gauge metal tubing. This is the kind of store where they sell the materials to do small-scale modeling, fantasy figures, railroad models, remote control airplanes, and rockets. Like the owner said, it’s “guy stuff”. But my goodness there were some neat things there! I found the metal tubes right away and was in the middle of handing over my debit card at the counter when I saw these Microbrushes. I gave a bit of a squeal and said, “Ooooh, those are wonderful!” The owner laughed and said that’s what everyone says when they see them. Needless to say, I had to buy some and share my find with all of you.

Microbrushes in superfine and regular.

They are made by a company called, simply enough, Microbrush and come in Regular (2.0mm), Fine (1.5mm), and Superfine (1.0mm) tips, each packaged in 10 brush card packs. They’re disposable and cheap enough that you can feel okay about tossing them. I paid $2.25 for each of these packages. I looked around the Microbrush website and these brushes are also available in larger packages that are marketed to the cosmetics and dentistry industries of 100 to 400 brushes each. And then I realized that I have seen my dentist use these same brushes.

The advantage of these brushes is that the head size is very small and holds a precise drop of liquid material. This liquid could be paint, adhesive, solvent, or lubricant. The brush also bends, allowing access to tiny places with tight access. I wish I’d had these brushes when I was making my Distressed Rainbow Necklace because each tile is edged in black paint. I used a Q-tip and that was a messy, imprecise, frustrating exercise. How many times have you tried to put a tiny drop of glue on something and were reduced to the frustrating exercise of using a toothpick? These disposable Microbrushes will do the trick so much better.

Microbrushes in the superfine size.

Microbrushes in regular.

The tips of these Microbrushes are really, really tiny. I have been trying to use 000000 paintbrushes for fine details, and they work great for lines. But they don’t hold a volume of liquid. Use these microbrushes to place tiny, regular sized dots of paint. Or to apply epoxy adhesive inside the hole before you insert wire into polymer clay. How about putting the right amount of glue onto a bail so that it doesn’t slop over and make a mess? I’m sure I’ve only begun to think of ways these can be used.

Comparison of superfine and regular microbrushes.

The website does show that you can purchase Microbrushes at Hobby Lobby, but I’ve never seen them in the stores. You can buy them online from Hobby Lobby. You can find Microbrushes in these retailers in the US, and these retailers in Europe.  A reader let us know that they can be purchased from Micromark (which is a fantastic site, thanks Jeanne)! And another reader told of an online source in Germany (thanks Veronique)! And in Canada, Lee Valley Tools is your place to go (thanks Lawrence). And for an even more economical solution, look for “eyelash extension microbrush” on ebay and get a whole variety of types. Thanks to Binky for that suggestion.

I think I’ll take another trip to that hobby store and see if I can’t look at their offerings with a new eye. I wonder how many things that are designed for another industry or hobby could be used in jewelry and polymer clay work? What neat tools or supplies have you found from other industries that are very useful in your work?

30 thoughts on “Hobby Store Find – Microbrushes”

    1. You might want to try the smaller stores…you never know. The owner said that they only started carrying them recently at the suggestion of a customer.

  1. You’d think you could find anything in Manhattan, but it’s shocking how frustrating it can be finding things here. I’ll be damned if I can find a hobby store like you’re describing! If one has a presence on the web, it’s doing a lousy job of SEO, because I’m just not locating one. And every time I pay an outrageous shipping and handling charge for an online order, I think, “Geez; that’s four packages of clay I coulda bought instead, or two four-ounces bottles of Liquid Polyclay, or …” whatever.

    My guess is that the real estate is too expensive for a lotta enterprises, and so they just don’t open storefronts here. (Sob!) That’s why we hafta trek to Camel Hump, New Jersey, to visit places like, say, JoAnn’s, to get stuff that New Yorkers turn up our noses at.

    I know watch mean about trying to use Q-tips with paint or glue; you end up with a single fluffy piece of fuzz in the glue or paint, and/or the Q-tip drags the glue or paint through the front of whatever you’re working on, leaving a smear and making you crazy.

    The microbrushes look like the answer to an awful lotta artists’ prayers. I have a buncha stuff in cottage cheese containers just waiting to get their edges painted. Next time I manage to fill up a shopping list for Hobby Lobby, I’ll have a buncha micro brushes! Yay! Thanks for letting us know about this *terrific* find, Ginger! (And for putting up with me while I vent. I appear to be in a venty mood today, huh?)

    1. I think we all go through venty moods at times. I certainly have my share…ask my poor husband! I grew up in an extremely rural place and also lived in the Chicago suburbs. Now I live in a mid-sized midwestern town (150K) and I find it the best for convenience. Everything I could want, including the symphony, any kind of store or restaurant, an excellent art museum, hiking trails, a lake to kayak in, excellent night culture, and many art galleries are all within 15 minutes of my house. I would have to drive an hour for most of those when I lived in Illinois. But even so, I still prefer to order a lot of things online. I’ve got lists I keep so that I only have to order once in a while and therefore save on shipping. I’ve used Amazon Prime in the past and it was great. I’d just order whatever I wanted and it would be there. Maybe the gas you save in driving around to stores is compensation for the shipping when buying online? But yeah, I hear you!

  2. Ooooo, that reminds me of the model store I go by at least once a week. Gotta pop in and see what there is to see!

    Happy creating with your new brushes. 🙂

    1. We should probably go spend money at our small local stores more often. We need to support them so they’re there when we need them! Besides…any place that carries tiny tools, tiny materials, and tiny toys has got to be worth a visit!

  3. I’m a doll maker and can see using these brushes to put a white dot in the eyes of faces that are about the size of a dime. The eyes are tiny. I have even used old Micron pens in the .005 size to dot them before. This looks perfect. Also, there is a model airplane hobby store in my neighborhood that I have never entered before. I have to check them out. Thanks for this great tip. I’m so happy I found your blog…thank you so much.

  4. Excellent information! Makes me wonder how many great things a model hobbyist would find at a bead or craft shop! Also makes me think that local hobby shops are missing customers by not marketing to the female crowd – it’s not just guy stuff!

    1. I think you’re right, Abby. It’s not just guy stuff and especially recently with more jewelry makers getting into metalworking, the lines really start to blur between the crafts. I think working for Xuron would be ultra cool and a lot of fun. But then I’m one of those girls who loves to go to hardware stores because of all the neat little fittings and gizmos that “there oughta be some use for this”.

  5. Jeanne Dumond

    Micromark sells them on their site and some scrapbooking and rubber stamping stores also sell them.

  6. Yeah, they are great! I found them when we were at a old time hobby store getting a new engine for our train. They have all kinds of great stuff in there, more than I found in “train and model building” section at our nearest Hobby Lobby.

  7. I have actually been to that kind of hobby store before Ginger. I play D&D and other table top games and have been painting miniature figurines for those games for years. I have used some of my supplies from that in polymer clay, but some of my miniature supplies are a little too costly to experiment with. I have never seen these before either and will have to look for them. Using toothpicks to apply glue is really annoying. You said you have used 000000 brushes, I was wondering where you get yours? The place I was using to get them from recently stopped making them and I need a couple of more. Thanks for the article, as always you give very good advice! 🙂

    1. Hi Sharon. I have used super tiny brushes in the past as I have them in my general stash of art brushes. But I haven’t bought one in years. Brushes are so hit and miss. Sometimes the expensive ones start to splay right away, or turn outward at the ends (so frustrating) and the super cheap ones are often really quite good. But you never know, of course, until you’ve spent the money and are sitting there with a frustrating project and a crap brush. Sigh. Sorry, wish I had a better answer!

  8. Margaret Gardiner

    I have ordered the micro brushes in packs of 100 for £2-95 from Amazon. They say they are for false eyelash application, but they look exactly like the ones from Hobby Store. They do them 1mm, 2mm and 3mm.

  9. I wonder if my dentist might sell me some of these? It doesn’t hurt to ask. My best hobby seating is a dental assistant chair that was being replaced for a newer one. They gave it to me saying that it was not worth it to consign to a used equipment broker.

  10. Next time you go to the hobby shop see if they have any of the Micro Mesh Abrassive Sticks. These basically look like Cushy Nail FIles with angular ends. The ones I got range from 1500 – 12000 and work great for sanding very ornate or intricate polymer clay pieces. I got a set of 9 for $8.95 and have been using them for about 6 months and they are still in great shape.

  11. I love these brushes for working with alcohol inks. The small size makes great designs using rubbing alcohol. Also they are great for getting into tight spaces in your clay. When they dry out, you can get some 91% rubbing alcohol and clean them up to use again. Also, after the “brushes” are totally spent, I cut off the nib and use them for gluing, designing and other uses … except don’t use them for toothpicks. LOL

  12. Rosemary Paul

    I saw these while shopping with my hubby at his favorite scale modelling store. There were $5.99 USD for a packet of 10 of 2.0mm brush applicators.Hubby asked me if I wanted those and I told him not at that price. I searched on my phone and found my favorite shopping site, Amazon.
    Instead of paying a ghastly amount for a small pack of these, I bought 400 for under $10!!
    I ordered 1 set of 400 ultrafine micro applicators (brushes), each 100 in its own dispenser! I also got the 400 pc assortment of micro applicators, 100 pcs of 4 sizes, Regular (light blue), fine (light green), ultrafine (purple), and cylinder (white).
    I wish I could say that these lasted me a long time, but after hubby saw how I use them, he “borrowed” some for his WWII scale modelling. He has “borrowed” all of my cylinder applicators and at least 3 of the ultrafine containers so I will soon be ordering more of the purple ones! We are saving the containers because Amazon also sells the same brushes in zip bags of 1000, but no containers. So I will fill up our empty ones and save more money!
    I hope this helps everyone’s crafting budget, it sure helped ours!!

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