The Broom Making Process
Here at Haydenville Broomworks we aim not only to make functional and beautiful brooms but also to maintain the American broom making tradition. It is important to us that buying a broom from Haydenville Broomworks is a personalized experience and since everyone can’t visit the Broomshop or see us at craft fairs we’ve explained our process below. If you can make it to a craft fair, you can see some of these steps in action!
Following centuries old traditions, our broom making is a simple craft. From selecting the highest of quality materials to dropping the broom off at our small town post office, each broom is truly made by hand.
Sorting the Broom Corn
The process begins on a sunny day when we take our broom corn outside and sort it by size and quality. Centuries ago broom corn was selectively grown into the product it is today because of its ability to catch and hold dust.
Broom Corn's Local History
The creation of broom corn as a specific crop is widely credited to a farmer named Levi Dickinson in Hadley MA, down the road from Haydenville! Once the corn is sorted our attention turns to the handles.
Our handles are made from sassafras because it is strong, light-weight, does not shed its bark and will continue to shoot out new saplings from its roots following harvest. We harvest the sassafras from a variety of locations including land owned by Anne’s uncle Lee Sauder.
Preparing the Broom Handle
Once the sassafras is harvested and dried each branch is cut to size and holes are drilled on each end; one for the leather hook to hang the broom and another for wire to attach the broom corn to the handle.
Assembling the Broom
Eight gauge wire is used to secure the corn to the handle and staple nails are use to secure the broom corn to the handle and tighten the wire around the broom corn. Some craftsmen skip using nails – this step in combination with our high quality materials it is one of the reasons why our brooms last so much longer then mass-produced factory brooms.
Working on the Broom Bench
When assembling the brooms we work on a customized bench that allows us to keep the wire taut and provides solid surface for the hammer. Depending on the broom design, several layers of broomcorn are added at this stage.
Weaving the Handle
The outer layer of the broom is made by selecting the longest and highest quality broom corn. The ends are split lengthwise and soaked in hot water to increase pliability. Jute is used with these “weavers” to create the woven portion of the broom.
Different Weaves for Different Brooms
For our larger brooms, the woven section secures a final, outer layer of broomcorn around the head. For the whisks, the handle is made entirely of broomcorn and the woven handle.
Stitching the Broom
The next step is to stitch the broom, holding it in a round or flattened shape depending on the design. We stitch with a waxed string a double pointed needle, working by hand for the round-stitched brooms such as the cobweb or round hearth brooms.
Using the Broom Vice
The Shakers pioneered the flat design of many brooms we see today. To stitch the brooms flat we use a restored 19th century broom vice that holds the shape as we stitch it.
Cutting the Broom
The final step the process is cutting the excess broomcorn from the end of the head using the broomcorn cutter. The cutter is used to give the Turkey Wing Whisks their distinctive shape. Watch those fingers!
We drop off the finished brooms at our local post office, to be shipped to your front door.