In the Harry Potter universe, Harry receives a Nimbus 2000 racing broom from Professor McGonagall when he joins the Gryffindor Quidditch team. This is how I made mine for a Harry Potter Halloween party.
I've entered this in for the Halloween Props competition, feel free to cast a vote if you like this!
Step 1: Always Reference Your Work
First step is to get reference pictures of the broom so you know what to aim for. I used this replica from Cinereplicas as the basis for my build. I imported the side view into a drawing programme and scaled it to the right size for my height. This allows me to work out the ratio of broom to stick and the right diameters. Close up photos also allow me to see what various parts are made of and how things go together. Notice how the back half is more curved like a tree branch and the front end has a sharper curve like it had been shaped into a broomstick.
Step 2: Material Girl
A rough summary of materials:
1.5m length of 2x6" wood, I used pine
~ 1.0m of 10mm diameter nylon rod
~ 150 strands of willow, bear grass, dry reeds
Strip of 12x2mm aluminium
A piece of 24mm aluminium bracket
A 4" nail
Dense foam (like Plastazote) or cardboard
Various sized screws
Mahogany wood stain
Maroon / Medium brown spray paint
Gold spray paint
Router with radius bit (optional)
Heat gun (a gas kitchen hob is possible but not recommended)
Hot glue gun
Personal Protection Equipment
Step 3: Pattern Makes Perfect
Scaled up, I drew the stick onto cardboard, cut it out and rode around on it to check for scale. I traced around it onto a piece of 2x6" pine that was laying out in the garden and cut out the rough shape with my jigsaw. I extended the stick into the bristles section for support later. The 2x6" is a good starting point as the 45mm thickness works out nicely without much shaping for a broom 45mm in diameter.
Step 4: Shape Up and Shut Up
Put on a dust mask, then take off the corners with a radius router bit to save on sanding later. If you don't have a router, you could use a jack plane for the more traditional feel. Then crack out an electric sander with some 60 or 80 grit paper and get shaping the wood so that it is nice and round and smooth. And wear some goggles, as the dust goes everywhere. Finish it with some 240 grit paper for a nice smooth finish. Clean the wood with a slightly damp cloth to remove all debris and allow to dry.
My piece of pine is very light in colour, the Nimbus 2000 is mahogany. So stain the wood with a mahogany wood stain. If you can find a mahogany wood varnish, that is good too as it adds a lovely shine to the wood but takes days to dry and is difficult to apply evenly. I mixed up some French Enamel Varnish (FEV) to the right shade and brushed it on swiftly as one coat. If it dries and you run the brush over again, it will become darker with successive coats, so be careful. Your broom will be a lovely dark colour and look great as a walking stick if you wanted to stop now.
Step 5: Tickle My Bristles
I plotted out the shape for the brush section onto cardboard and used it as a template for shaping circular discs of dense foam into a football-like shape which will hold the form of the bristles. You could use circles of cardboard cut to the right diameters and spaced evenly along the shaft for the same effect. Notice how the shape is fuller at the back end with the widest part nearer the tip. I used the reference photo and took diameter measurements every 30mm along the photo to get the right shape. The template ensures that I shave the foam down evenly all around. Then I painted it black to keep it in shadow should any show through the brush. I also added a section of 18mm dowel whittled to a point to the end of the stick that will serve as the thin end of the broom. It's poked into a hole about 100mm deep in the end of the stick, then glued and nailed into place. You could whittle the actual stick down to a long taper if you wish, just more time with the sander.
Step 6: House Made of Sticks
Layering up the bristles is a long and lengthy task. The bristles themselves are actually from an Asian-style broom consisting of reeds or grass bound together. I found them in a shop for £2.50 each with bristles 700mm in length which is perfect for my needs. Willow or other types of thin wicker would be ideal as it is round, long and a good thickness. You'll need about 150 strands to cover the broom. Sift out the strands that are too short so you don't have a surprise later on.
Lay down a strip of sticky tape the circumference of the shaft, sticky side up, and lay the thick end of the strands down side by side so you have a single layer of bristles. Use the strip of tape to wrap around the shaft and hold them in place. Keep the bristles nice and tight and strap it down with a band of clear tape. The top layer of strands will have the tape replaced with an aluminium band for finishing. As the strands taper to the end, you'll need a few layers to cover the whole shape. I used 5 layers of bristles which, when evened out, had a little over one layer of coverage at the widest part. Gather all the strands at the end and tie it off with some wire for now. Arrange all the strands so that they run straight from root to tip and use hot glue to hold them to the former at the widest point (where the layer is thinnest to ensure constant coverage).
Pull and shape the bristles nice and tight against the foam or cardboard former and secure the point end with tape to hold it. Wrap brown thread at the point where all the bristles gather, just a smidge past the pointed stick beneath. Bind it as tight and even as you can and tie it off. Dowse the band of thread in superglue to permanently fix it in place. Cut off the excess bristles with a saw so you have a clean, flat tip. Dowse that in superglue too. Mask the stick off and spray all the bristles a nice shade of medium or maroon brown. Overall, your broom should look pretty convincing by now!
Step 7: Having a Leg to Stand On
The Nimbus 2000 has golden footrests for the rider to rest upon and as a kickstand for display purposes. Mine are made from 10mm nylon rod. The stand has three parts: the two part yoke section (each 300mm in length) and the U-shaped foot bar (480mm). I drew out the design to scale on some card and bent away. Nylon rod can be bent to shape when heated with a heat gun. Gently heat the rod and let it soak in, bend it to shape and then submerge in cold water to set the shape. For the semi-circle shape, use a circular form with the right diameter to bend the rod around. Sand the ends of the yoke sections to a shallow angle to meet the rounded rod at the right position. Secure the pieces together with small screws and fill any gaps smooth with car body filler.
The foot rests are 22mm dowel rod that is sanded flat on one side and a 10mm hole drilled off-centre for the rod to insert. The dowel is sanded carefully into a rounded teardrop shape and smoothed out.
Step 8: Banding Together
All the strands will be held together with an aluminium band wrapped tightly around. Using molegrips and some brute force, a 12x1.5mm strip of aluminium is bent around the strands. Remove the band from the broom and bend it more to account for the springback of the metal. Cut it exactly to size with no overlap and hold it in place against the bristles with a clamp in the position of the first band that will eventually finish the broom and will the join facing downwards. Drill two holes on either side of the band, through the aluminium, the bristles and into the wood. Screw a wood screw on each side to hold the band in place. You can remove the sticky tape now.
Step 9: Up the Bracket
The bracket for the footrest is made from 2 pieces of 24mm aluminium section cut to 20mm in length, glued together and sanded even. 2 holes are drilled through the bottom and into the band and into the wood. 2 more screws are used to hold the bracket onto the broom and tightening the band securely. I ran some hot glue around each side of the band for extra support.
For the pivoting legs, I drilled a 4mm hole horizontally through the bracket, large enough for a steel pin to fit through. The pin is a 4" nail cut and filed to size. A hole was drilled through the top of the legs for the pin to fit through and threaded into the bracket and the pin superglued in nice and tight. Another pin is placed further back and slightly higher up on the bracket which acts as a stop for the top of the legs to hit when fully extended at 90deg to the broom. This also allows for the broom to stand up on its own!
Step 10: Details, Details, Details
The Nimbus 2000 has three golden bands which "hold" the bristles to the broomstick. To my scale, the first band is 20mm wide (which is wrapped over the aluminium band, hiding it) then a 15mm gap, the second band is 15mm wide then a 10mm gap, and finally a 10mm band. The bands are actually braided wire wrapped tightly and evenly around the broom. Something like stripped bicycle brake cable would be ideal, but I didn't have any so I used cotton twine instead. Superglue the "wire" to the bristles and then to itself as well. Cut the "wire" to a long taper at the end and glue it down for a smoother finish. I dowsed the bands in superglue for extra solidity.
The Nimbus 2000 has a lovely name stamp on the head of the broom which can be achieved by printing off the logo in the middle of a piece of paper sized according to your broom. My logo was 30x60mm and fit nicely on the flat part of the head. Cut out the letters carefully with a sharp scalpel. Spray the back of the stencil with a spray adhesive like Spray Mount which will allow you to place the stencil on the broom, spray on the gold paint and remove the paper to reveal a lovely logo. While you're at it, mask off the broom and the bristles so you can spray the "wire" bands gold, remove the bracket and spray that and spray the foot pedals and legs.
Step 11: Final Thoughts
Once the gold spray is dry and set (overnight is best), lacquer all the gold pieces to add protection to the paintwork. Ensure the lacquer can is warm by keeping it in a warm place or cuddle it for a few minutes, and then shake vigorously. Several light coats every 10 minutes is ideal for an even and hardwearing finish. I used "satin" lacquer on the gold to just knock the sheen off the final colour and give a more antiqued look. Spray the broom stick with a nice gloss lacquer if you didn't used a wood varnish.
Glue the foot pedals onto the legs, screw the legs and bracket back onto the band, and you are finished! Admire your lovely broom and stroke it gently knowing you have crafted it with your own hands from a lump of wood.
The shape of my broom wasn't quite right in retrospect. The head of the broom should be a bit larger and have a flatter profile, almost coming to a point if seen from above like an oar or paddle. Easily rectified if I build another one.
A rubber pad on the bottom of the broom would have provided some much needed purchase on the floor when you're standing around holding the broom upright. It would also protect the ends of the bristles where it's a bit fragile.
Also, don't fall on it. I took it to the Halloween party I had made it for, it was fallen upon, and snapped in half at the bend where the grain is shortest. Solace is taken from the fact that it was the materials that broken, not my crafting. So I have fixed it back together with a steel pin biscuit and some glue. It was some nice battle damage if nothing else.