Saturday, December 14, 2013

Whittling the Broom Handle

Last summer when the broom corn looked like it would prove to be a promising endeavor, Zach and I went for a walk to find broom handles. We have a beautiful Hickory tree on our property back by the beehive that produces nice straight branches and smaller saplings under its expansive canopy.

Hickory is a great wood to work with when making tools as it is fairly straight grained and very strong.

Truth be told, I didn't really want a perfect handle. I wanted something with a little character...some knots and a little gnarling.

We selected a few branches that looked like they would work and let them dry out in the barn.

Really, the handle should have dried out for a lot longer than a few months. A year would have been better, but I'm too excited to try out broom making to wait a whole year. We might get some shrinkage as the handle seasons completely, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I teetered a bit about whether or not to leave the bark on the handle. And finally decided to remove it to a smoother surface. I really like the look either way. 

I used the draw knife to remove all the bark and to smooth out the knots from the side branches that we trimmed off. Then I used the spokeshave to smooth out the ridges. Tonight I plan on giving it a good go-over with sandpaper to knock off the rough places left by the plains.

If I can get the bristle part down I'd really like Zach to forge me some twisted metal handles. I think the steel juxtaposed with the natural fibers would make a beautiful, rustic contrast...but one step at a time right?

There's just something about a pile of curly wood shavings that makes me smile.  

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