Kelly Hogan

Taking The Morning Shave To The Next Level

Hello, my name is Kelly Hogan and I am a woodturner. My love of woodturning started out when I was very young watching my uncle through his basement window as he went about cutting and making items in his woodshop. I remember talking to him through his basement window and eventually joining him in his woodshop to help or more possibly hinder his woodworking for the evening. I learned a lot from him and learned that I loved making things out of wood.

One day in 2003, I found myself in need of a way to relax when I got home from work. I work as a police Sergeant for a small police department in Pa., and there can be a few things that you just need to take your mind off of from time to time.  I was absolutely fascinated with woodturning, but it was one of those things that I just never tried. I began my woodturning journey by asking my wife and family members to get me turning tools that I would need to start, every year for Christmas. Three years went by before I had enough to finally start. I remember going to pick up my first lathe.  I was excited and couldn’t wait to get home and try it. I took to it like a duck to water. I started out as most, turning pens and bowls at first. I did this for several years before I happened onto a turning project that would help me create the Black Ship Grooming Co. 

It all started with the simple idea of making a shaving brush. Having to shave every day for work, I was tired of using the commercially available soaps and creams to shave with. I remembered that I had some old Williams shaving soap as well as a mug that my father gave to me. I just needed a brush, I had a lathe and I thought I can turn one of these. Little did I know, this would change how I shave and how I look at shaving today. 

I began by looking up some photos of old shaving brushes and comparing the outlines. I like to look at some of the designs of brushes that were made back in the early 1910 era for inspiration. I think everyone has their own idea of what a shaving brush should look like. I try to create new ideas for what I think a shaving brush should look like. At first, I looked at pictures of the early Simpson and Rubberset brushes to see what kind of shapes they used to make. 

I begin by drafting a shape in my head. Then I’ll sit down with a pencil and paper to draw the outline guide of a brush. I’m never really firm on this, it’s merely used as a guide.

Once I have settled on a design, I begin to take the proportions of the brush in mind. This step is important, I don’t use any templates when I turn my brushes. I do all the turning free hand as I go. At times, I will drift from the original designs. There could be an inclusion or feature in the blank that I would like to enhance. I’ll turn a cove or maybe I’ll flatten it and put a bead on it. I let the piece dictate the outcome. 

There is one thing I’m a stickler on, it’s the feel of the brush. If it doesn’t feel right in my hand it’s not going to feel right in someone else’s hand. I place a lot of emphasis on this. I will turn and then stop, constantly feeling the shape of the brush until it feels just right. Some brushes I’ll make wider for larger hands and then some I’ll make thinner to satisfy smaller hands. Once I have the feel down I’ll stop to look at the overall shape. I always try to keep it all within the original design shape that I was shooting for. I may have to vary it more than I originally planned but some of my best shapes have come from doing this. 

My wife, daughter, and son-in-law, along with myself, can answer any questions you may have. You can see and smell our line of shaving soaps, splashes and try a sample of our beard oils, as well as see some of our hand turned brushes and razors.