Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

DIY Carbon brush

I know more than a few of us that have ‘cheap’ electric tools.   I bought my grinder at HB more than a few years back and have been quite happy with it.  No, its not a Dewalt or Milwaukee, but I figure 5 years of hard use, I more than got my money out of the thing.

All the grinding and cutting that I have been doing lately finally took its toll on that tool.   The brushes wore out and of course that means the grinder became a paperweight.    Digging around, I found brushes from the HB site, but at $4 for the brushes and over $20 in shipping, I figured I would try something else first.

I bought these carbon rods from Budget casting supply a few years back. (link in side bar)Carbon Rod They work great for stirring rods of molten metals.   A quick check showed that they are very conductive of electrons so,,,,,,,

A little creative application of a file (standard course metal file worked well) and we have the blank of a carbon brush.Brush blankNo, its not the prettiest but a little work with a fine file and it cleaned up nicely.

Now, to drill the hole for the wire.   The wire is actually a retainer for the main plate and spring.  It does not really come into play unless there is an issue and then it is more for a ground than operation needs.   The wire I used was a piece of braided wire from my soldering supplies.   This braided wire is actually for solder removal but it works for my purpose here.further alongNow epoxy the wire into place.  The actual parts I made for the grinder, I baked in an small toaster oven at 200F for one hour after applying the epoxy.  This is high temp marine epoxy, but I don’t see why JB weld wouldn’t work.Epoxy(note, this is not the actual brush I made earlier.   I had no idea is this was going to work or not so I just did it.  I then made another one and took pics as I went along to show you.   FYI, it works quite well. )

Now, put the spring in place, solder the retaining plate to the wire (drill hole and solder through.) then cut the excess wire off and file smooth.  DONE!

I have no idea how long this will hold up to be honest.    I figure if it lasts another 6 months, it was well worth every penny and sweat drop.  (few to be honest,,,)   I look at it as just one more way to recover a lost tool.   Carbon brushes are getting harder and harder to find in hardware stores and many companies are starting to use proprietary designs so you have to go with theirs or buy a new tool.  Dunno’bout you, but the prices are getting out there for mediocre and OMFG! on quality ones.   I would rather fix what I have than buy new anyway.

And hey, if it burns out in 6 months, I will just make another set and keep going.


7 responses

  1. Spud

    If I comment will you write more often lol. Appreciate all that you impart Dio !!
    Have done similar things for brushes in the past, usually tho it was from another premade brush .

    most excellent innovation !

    September 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm

  2. The Soffitrat

    Get your ass back!


    September 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm

  3. Ron Ballard

    Thanks for the info.!!

    January 15, 2016 at 9:14 pm

  4. So how long did your self-manufactured brushes hold up? Did the epoxy’d wire connections to the brushes hold up? I have a problem with a motor that the brush wire snapped off flush with the brush and I’m wondering if the same epoxy trick would work for me… I understand this thread is 4 years old but please respond if you can. Thank you for your time and info!

    July 10, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    • Sorry about the delay, been kinda busy and whatnot.
      First query: daily use moderate grinding the brushes held up for about one month. I would call that a bandaid. Second question: the epoxy held up the best.
      The real problem being the carbon rod. What I have are stirring rods for molten metals. True replacement brushes would be sintered and compressed carbon.
      Conclusion: simple bandaid to get a tool back up n running until you can get the proper replacement.
      Hope that helps

      July 13, 2017 at 10:56 am

  5. Pingback: DIY Carbon brush revisit | Dio's Workshop

  6. john bougs

    I used to do the same thing, I used an old D Cell battery as the source or the carbon rod.

    August 31, 2017 at 3:37 am

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