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What is a Flat Broom?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 March 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Flat brooms are one of the most commonly employed broom styles in use today. Considered practical for sweeping flat surfaces such as wood or concrete, the flat broom is a simple device that is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. Just about any home will have at least one flat broom among the basic cleaning supplies.

While the concept of brooms have been around for centuries, the flat broom came into existence during the early years of the 19th century. In most cases, the design for the flat broom is credited to Theodore Bates. Bates was a member of the United Society of Believers, also known as the Shakers. The Shaker community was noted for their devotion to simplicity and industry. While many people are aware of the beautifully constructed and sturdy furniture that are often associated with Shakers, not everyone is aware of the fact that the practical flat broom was the result of Shaker industry.

The design of the flat broom is considered to be an enhancement of the older round broom. Flat brooms were first constructed by using straight bunches of straw that were flattened with the use of a vise. While still in the vise, one end of the collection of straw was wired onto a simple wooden handle. The handle would be anywhere from four to six feet in length.

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For additional strength, the bundles of straw would be sewn together at a location several inches below the wired end. Last, the free end of the flatted straw would be shaved off evenly. This created a broom action that would effectively capture dirt and push it along the floor.

The design of the flat broom makes it possible for users to sweep a floor more efficiently. Flat brooms simply require less effort on the part of the user. Where three or more strokes with a round broom might be necessary to achieve the desired effect, a single stroke with a flat broom will suffice. The efficiency of the flat broom quickly made it popular around the world. Even after the advent of vacuum cleaners, the flat broom continued to be an essential around the house. Today, sales of the flat broom remain at respectable levels.

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