It’s been a while that I have been wanting to make myself a wooden mallet. I have been using a plastic dead blow type for years but it isn’t really the prettiest thing and after seeing all the nice whackers on the “Mallet of your Dreams”, I decided now is the time for a new mallet.
Years ago my dad brought me a couple 3”x3”x21” chunks of Hornbeam and it’s been sitting on a shelf just waiting for a project.
I had been planning on using it for handles on some handleless socket chisels I picked up recently but when i pulled a piece down off the shelf I realized that it was the perfect size for a mallet too. I cut a 6” piece off the end and squared it up to a final size roughly 2.5”x3”. There was still a bit of live edge showing but I figured it would just add some character. Then I reached into my scrap bin and pulled out a piece of hard maple that was about 18” long by 1-1/4” square for my handle.
I set up my hollow mortise machine to cut the mortise in the hornbeam but it wouldn’t cut any deeper than 1/2”. This wood is hard. I ended up using my forsner bits to dig most of the wood out then went back to square it up with the mortiser and it still had a hard time but we got it out. Then I flared the mortise out about 1/8” on both sides of the top for the wedges. I ended up rounding the edges of 3 chisels doing this.
I didn’t think to take any step-by-step pictures of the build as it only took me a few hours and I was designing as I went.
After the mortise was all ready I put the square handle into the head and glued in a few walnut wedges i made out of more scraps. That held the head on nice and tight so I went to work shaping the handle with my spokeshaves. It was just trial and error until I had a shape that fit nicely in my hand. By the time the handle was done the glue was also dry enough on the wedges so I cut them flush and planed it smooth.
I then cut the angles on the faces of the mallet. I decided the angle by laying the mallet face down and scribing a line so the mallet face would sit flat. I then added a few coats of shellac.
Once everything was dry I couldn’t wait to whack something so I gave it a few light bangs on my bench and noticed that if I didn’t hit is perfectly straight I was denting my bench. Guess this stuff is hard. So I decided that I should put some leather on the faces for a little protection.
I went to the local leather supply shop and picked up a whole side of leather to make some custom rolls for my chisels, files and drill bits as well as some protective guards for my axe and drawknife….....but that’s a whole new blog. But while I was there they gave me a little piece of thick leather for my mallet. I came home, cut the leather to fit and glued them on.
Now I got a fancy 24oz whacker.
-- Greg in Ontario, Canada