A broom by any other name…

The ill-conceived toy with “vibrating action”. No lie.

Ceases to be a broom. The Nimbus 2000 is a racing broom and as I discovered, rubbish as an actual broom. Halloween is the propmaker’s holiday. It is a celebratory time for us as we can showcase our abilities to the wider world in an acceptable manner that can be appreciated and for our own amusement. There’s not always the time for it, work commitments allowing, but it’s nice to make an effort.

This year’s Halloween party had the theme of Harry Potter; one of the hosts being a fanatic of the universe. A vast list of characters was drawn up for people to choose from ranging from the titular character to things like boggarts. Being of Asian persuasion, my cosplaying options are limited to the thick Scottish tones of Cho Chang. Being of male persuasion, I can’t stretch that far. So I opted for a miscellaneous Quidditch player, which also happened to be the Ravenclaw Seeker. But definitely *not* Cho Chang.

Every Seeker needs a fast broom, so I opted to make a near-as-dammit replica of the Nimbus 2000 that Harry Potter gets as a “gift” from Professor McGonagall. Here’s the brief summary of how it happened.

All good brooms start with wood, this was a 2×6″ pine beam I found at the end of the garden. On closer inspection, it fell off the lean-to. Cut and sanded to shape with a jigsaw, router and orbital sander.

Patterned in cardboard
Rounded and sanded

The legs are made from heat-bent nylon rod. Have only recently discovered the technique of using a heat gun to soften nylon, bending it and then setting the shape with cold water. Works remarkably well for my purposes here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take glue too well so some small screws were needed to hold the parts together. I prefer a mechanical fixative anyway.

The pattern for the legs
The first piece bent
All pieces bent

I found the bristles wandering through the local indoor market struggling to find anything resembling willow branches or other long, straight reed. Almost resorted to taking a bamboo mat apart. I had learnt that places like Hobby Lobby had things like “bear grass” for such purposes. The UK does not have Hobby Lobbies. But it does have a random assortment of independent shops that stock a random assortment of wares. Incidentally, I found these “brooms” in an Asian shop for £2.50 each which had nice long bristles of reasonable thickness and flexibility. Not quite the hardy willow I was hoping for, but at least I didn’t have to resort to the secateurs I was carrying around just in case.

The bristles I found

150 bristles later, each carefully positioned and bound and glued in place. The tapered nature of the bristles meant it came to a point at the end all by itself. I just had to tie it off with extra-strong thread and superglue it to eye-watering buggery. Then secure the wide end with an aluminium band, some screws and an aluminium bracket for the legs.

The first layer of bristles
The fourth layer of bristles, one more to go
Superglue all over the end

Some nice gold spraying detail on the bands, legs, foot rests and the carefully cut stencil logo. I initially tried to varnish the broom with a mix of teak and dark oak varnish because that’s all the 99p shop had and proper mahogany varnish is expensive (£7 a tin!). This didn’t work out so well due to:
1) Varnishing outside without wind shelter is bad. It causes the varnish to “skin” too quickly and makes a uniform coat impossible
2) It smells really really strong.
3) It stays sticky for days.
On the plus side, it was nice and shiny. Having messed it up though, I had to sand it all off to bare wood again to try again with a mix of French Enamel Varnish which worked much better. Required a gloss lacquer coat for a good shine, but that’s acceptable.

Bands sprayed gold
The Nimbus logo
The shaped and sprayed foot rests

Fortunately, my expenditure on this project was only £6.98 for the bristles and varnish. Testament to the idea that things you throw away might be useful for something. Does mean I have organised drawers of rubbish though. One day!

The finished broom
The functional legs
The underside with folded legs
Action shot!

For the more detailed account of my build, and tips for your own, go over to Instructables.com and show your appreciation.

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One Response to “A broom by any other name…”

  1. Now THAT is a broom!

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