Heres what you need to know to choose the right broom and brush for every messy job in your shop

A push broom and a bench brush are two of the most frequently used tools in my shop. Yet they aren't given the least thought until it's time to buy a new one. That's when you begin to realize there's more to choosing a broom or brush than meets the eye.


When it's time to buy a new broom, there are two things you'll want to consider: size and the type of bristles. And after making a choice, you can refer to Sources on page 51 to find out where to find the broom or brush that's right for you.

SYNTHETIC Brooms made with polystyrene and polypropylene bristles are available for most types of floor surfaces. Because these materials are synthetic, manufacturers can make them for use on any surface. The fibers, which are artificially flagged (see box on facing page), resist corrosives and may be what you need if your garage doubles as a shop.

TAMPICO. Brooms made from tampico work best on semi-smooth surfaces. Tampico is a natural vegetable fiber derived from plants in the cactus family, which makes it strong, coarse, and stiff. The fiber is also resistant to mild solvents, so it's a good choice if you're sweeping up in the garage.

HORSEHAIR. While synthetic and plant fibers work well on most surfaces, nothing beats 100% horsehair for trapping sawdust.

Brooms made from horsehair work best on smooth surfaces. That's because it's soft and has more give than other fibers. Plus the natural shape of the horsehair bristles tend to flare at the ends, which traps tiny particles of sawdust and debris.

MULTI-SURFACE PUSH BROOM. If your shop floor has an uneven surface, you'll probably want to choose a broom made for multiple floor types. As you can see in the bottom detail photo at left, the bristles on the front of a multi-surface broom are thicker. This works to pick up heavier debris and get into small cracks and crevices. The bristles on the back of the broom are flagged to pick up fine

Angle broom

Most angle brooms are made of synthetic naterial because of the length of the bristles.

Horsehair detail brush

Horsehair bench brush

A This flare-tip bench brush gets A horsehair detail brush is into tight corners to remove good for cleaning carvings or sawdust and debris. small parts on tools.

bamboo brush

debris like sawdust. And they're slightly longer to get into crevices.

SMALLER MAY BE BETTER. Regardless of the size of your shop, I'd recommend a small broom. An 18" or smaller broom will sweep open floor spaces quickly and still allow you to get into tight places.

If you have areas in your shop where tools are stored close to each other, then I'd recommend an angle broom (bottom photo, left). These brooms are 9" to 12" wide and get into small spaces.


There are almost as many shop brushes to choose from as there are brooms. The difference in brushes comes in the shape, rather than the material. Most bench brushes are made from horsehair, but goat hair is also a popular choice.

BENCH BRUSH. The standard bench brush is about 11" long by 2" to 2V2" inches wide. You'll find this style of brush handy for benchtop cleanup. They're usually made of horsehair because of the natural flare in this material. Bench brushes made from synthetic material have flagged bristles to pick up small particles of sawdust.

FLARE-TIP BRUSH. The large flare-tip brush at lower right is perfect for getting into tight corners. The soft horsehair bristles won't scratch wood surfaces, but will pick up the smallest bits of debris on the bench or hiding in the corners of your latest project.

HORSEHAIR DETAIL BRUSH. For getting into very small places, the 1"-dia. horsehair detail brush, with flared tips, is a good choice. You can use this brush to clean up inlays or hand carvings. But I'd pick up a second one to clean the dust from small power tools or the inner workings of larger tools. While the bristles are soft enough for fine surfaces, the shape of the brush keeps them stiff enough to clean in tight crevices.

GOAT HAIR DETAIL BRUSH. Another alternative to brushes made with horsehair is goat hair. Goat hair is softer and finer than horsehair,

A This flare-tip bench brush gets A horsehair detail brush is into tight corners to remove good for cleaning carvings or sawdust and debris. small parts on tools.

making it a good choice for fine or delicate work, such as woodcarving or marquetry.

The brush comes in two widths, 3" and l3/i" set at varying lengths for a natural flag. A series of glued and pegged bamboo shoots make it comfortable to hold.

There is a brush made for just about every need. Your choice for a new broom or brush should be based on how you plan to use it and what you're sweeping. E9

Horsehair detail brush bamboo brush

Horsehair bench brush

Plain Bristles

Flagged Bristles

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