Defining Insanity?

So much procrastination isn’t good for your soul, which is why I’m quite anxious about revealing something else that I’ve been up to in and around the other projects… All you need to know, for now, is that it involved making a broom handle!

Last week, I popped in to Toolstation on the way back from Bristol to purchase, among several other things, a new 18in broom head, for use both in my workshop and, generally, wherever I need a wider a wider one than the twelve-incher that’s seen me through the past few years.

Instead of paying an extra £2.02 for a handle that should fit first time, I decided that, in my will to be resourceful, I’d have a go at making one. They’re not difficult, of course, and you don’t even need a lathe. What you do need though, is a piece of wood the correct diameter that’s also long enough. This is where I first hit a stumbling block, as my longest scraps were only 4ft (I wanted a 5ft pole, being over 6ft tall). So, I decided I would try to go one further by joining and splicing bits of scrap together…

Looking back at that top photo, you’ll see I have a big lump of 2in thick ash that is almost certainly destined for somebody’s fire, one day. Still, I decided I’d try to make good of what I could and started by making a few of rip cuts with my circular saw and then, taking these two lengths and splitting them in half on my bandsaw:

Each length then, was approximately 1in square.

My next step was to plane a square face and edge on each of these lengths, so that they could be joined together to create a larger square section. I also decided it would be best to stagger the joins in to two and threes (ie. two lengths at 20in; three lengths at 20in). I ended up with a total of six lengths at around 20in long and four at 30in or so (noticed how the joining ends are mitred at 45°). A good amount of ash still ended up in the wood bin.

After joining the complete handle in two ‘halves’ at a time, I was able to again flatten the mating faces before bringing the two together to create the largest section, which was almost ready to have its edges rounded over. Plenty of clamps needed, here!

After the glue had cured, I thicknessed this new blank down to precisely 1¼in square. Then, using a rounding-over cutter with a radius of 5/8in, I was able to effectively “turn” a nice round handle on my router table (…By carefully routing edge of the four edges in turn).

I still needed to create a tenon on one end, which would fit in to the pre-drilled hole in the head of the new broom…

That photo probably doesn’t give you much of a clue as to what I actually did to form a tenon. So, I took another still shot with all the guards removed(!):

By fitting a length stop and, using a large straight cutter, I was able to very carefully [yes, “turn”!] a tenon on my router table by rotating the rounded blank very carefully. This works quite well but, it is important to rotate only against the direction of which the cutter is rotating.

One final step before assembly was to slot the tenon on my bandsaw, ready for wedging securely in place. I also drilled a small hole at the end of the slot to prevent it from splitting the timber any further as the wedge is driven home (no glue).

Now, I have an additional broom that should save me a bit of time when it comes to sweeping the floor. Plus, I have a few inches less of ash in my timber stocks! Was it really worth all the effort? Well, it may not be to everyone’s liking but, you never know; it might help to get you out of an awkward situation, one day… The scarf joints don’t quite look perfect but, the whole structure feels reassuringly rigid and, as one. Not that I’m saying that I’m prepared to test its strength by standing on it or anything – I’m not crazy, after all!!  😀

Thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “Defining Insanity?

  1. Hehe, best broom handle I have seen in a while. Everyone loves the custom feel of a broom handle they themselves made, even if it is ridiculously uneconomic to bother. Nice.

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