How to Make a Broom

An expert broom maker explains the basic steps to making a functional and attractive broom.


| Dec. 29, 2008



Brooms by Little John

With a few simple tools and materials, you can make your own brooms.


JOHN HOLZWART

You can make your own brooms! If you have a green thumb, you can start by growing your own broomcorn. But even if you can't grow broomcorn, you can order it from a supplier (see Resources at the end of this article). Photos for each step of the broom-making process are available in the Image Gallery; see link above.

Broomcorn

One of the most common questions I hear when I am demonstrating my craft is, “What plant material is used for the broom bristles?” The material is called broomcorn (Sorghum bicolor). This plant is closely related to sweet sorghum (Sorghum vulgare), which is the plant used to produce sorghum molasses.  Broomcorn is an annual and, from a distance, looks like sweet corn in the field. Yet, upon close examination, there are no cobs, just a large tassel on the top. That tassel is the part of the plant used for making brooms. Other materials can be used for the sweeper of a broom, but we're focusing on traditional corn brooms.

To make a hearth broom, 28 heads of broomcorn are used for the inside layers of bristles and 17 heads for the outside layer. Each head is measured with a cubit (the distance between your elbow to your longest finger). Put the knuckle of the corn, the place where the head meets the stalk, at your elbow. If the bristles, or brush, are past the tip of your fingers, that stalk is a keeper. If the material is too short, it will be used for a whisk broom later.

The broomcorn is prepared by cutting the stalks differently for each layer. Stalks are trimmed just past the knuckle on the stalk side for inside layers, but left longer for outside layers so they can be plaited. Place the broomcorn in a bucket of hot water with the cut ends submerged. The corn needs to soak for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Assemble the following materials before you sit down to make a broom:

  • Broomcorn (about 2-3 pounds per broom)
  • #18 nylon cord (for tying)
  • Hemp string for sewing (20 lb. test)
  • Wooden handle (18 inches)

Tools:

naturetravels
4/14/2015 8:51:53 PM

Approximately how many broomcorn plants are needed to make each broom?


margaret6
3/15/2014 10:01:59 PM

There are 12 photos, which you can find by clicking on the "Slideshow" button next to the first photo at the top of this page


marybeth adkison
8/28/2012 11:31:28 PM

great info, just wish there was pics to help visualize it.


nancy malsam
8/22/2012 4:22:36 PM

This looks like a FANTASTIC project for my daughter & me to do togeher. She can even enter it in 4-H next year. THANK you. I'll let you know how she ends up. (I see it being a Winner @ the Fair)


pete petrie
12/31/2008 4:49:24 PM

The How to Make a Broom article refers to a photograph showing a foot spinner used to keep the string taut. Where is the photobraph?






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