Almost every plastic or aluminum dustpan I’ve used has been disappointing. The aluminum ones bend too easily and make it impossible to capture fine dust. And plastic ones are just that: plasticy.
So like any half-decent woodworker, I set out this fall to build my own. Shopmade dustpans were once a common sight, so it’s not like my idea is original. But finding plans for a rotating dustpan with a tall handle (so you don’t have to stoop) are rare.
So I spent a month investigating patents of dustpans. I looked for the common ways they were built, their proportions and their mechanisms. Among the patent papers, I found a lot of interesting designs that were entirely too complex. But they pointed me in the right direction on deciding how the pan should tilt.
Then I studied existing dustpans, mostly plastic ones, to determine what I didn’t like about the way they worked.
After boiling all that down, I made a prototype from scraps and screws. The research paid off – the dustpan was surprisingly nice. It will stand on its own easily. It pivots readily when you lift it. And the front edge is always firmly against the floor thanks to a half-dowel on the bottom of the pan.
Then I built a nice one from walnut – dovetailed at the corners – that is cladded with hardboard. When oiled up, the hardboard and walnut work quite well together. The handle and the “axle” – which is what the pan rotates on – are scraps of sycamore.
The article on the dustpan will be in an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. And the above experience has caused me to look around at some of my other plastic devices in my shop – especially my water bucket – with a jaundice eye.
— Christopher Schwarz
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