Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We’ve selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands-on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day.
Oh…the clean up. In some ways, it’s the least exciting part of any project. But it’s an essential step to any creative DIY project or home repair effort, and, once you embrace it, it becomes part of the making efforts. It gives you one more chance to sort through the wood chips and saw dust or demo detritus, a perfect way to end a day of creativity.
Of course, let’s not get too poetic. It’s not really about the process of cleaning; it’s about having a clean shop or garage or office or basement so that your workspace is ready for you to tackle something else. So, clean up should be fast, it should be efficient, and it should be effective. First a note on the shop vac: yes, you should own one. And we’ll address that one in an upcoming Essential Toolbox post. But shop vacs are the last step of cleaning up the floor or workbench after a project. There’s no reason to subject your canister or your filter to unnecessary wear and tear.
The brooms: You need two – a large, long-handled broom, and a small handbroom. And you want a special one dedicated to workshop tasks. There’s no reason to track all that sawdust, etc, into your house, and a small piece of metal shavings or broken hardware could be dragged inside, damaging wood floors, etc. Plus, brooms are pretty inexpensive: get one for inside tasks, and one for the workshop you could also use on a patio or driveway.
A push broom works well for large spaces, and is better for moving fine bits of dust than a traditional broom. However, these are large for a reason, and work best for open, flat spaces. If you have a lots of under bench or cabinet spaces or a lot of corners, a traditional broom might work best. And unless you have a huge space, buy the smallest push broom possible. It might take an extra pass or two, but you’ll be able to move it around tools much easier.
If possible, buy that allows the handle to be attached from either side, which will even out the bristle wear.
A traditional straw broom is best for bigger objects, and can be more easily manipulated around and under shop items. Look for one with an angled head that can reach into corners more easily, as well as the edges where tools and cabinets meet the floor.
Synthetic bristled brooms work best indoors for dust bunnies and kitchen scraps. Keep one of those inside, and opt for a natural corn or straw broom for woodworking and DIY projects. (Synthetic bristles on a push broom are fine since the tools is designed for heavy-duty sweeping.)
Then, you need a hand broom for sweeping the little piles into the dustpan for removal. In the workshop, the big broom makes the piles, the hand broom gets them into the dustpan. A classic wood handle with horse hair bristles is the way to go here. Why? Cause it just looks like a thing you should have in the workshop, that’s why.
The Dustpan: There’s only one rule here – get a good one. And that means heavy-duty, stiff metal that’s nice and wide. You want it to be deep, so it can hold a bunch of stuff while sweeping up multiple little piles, with a nice wide handle. If it looks like something that would be hanging up in the janitor’s closet at your high school, you’re on the right track.
Remember: a clean shop is a productive shop.