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Hornbeam Mallet

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Blog entry by GMatheson posted 637 days ago 1616 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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



8 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2253 days


#1 posted 637 days ago

nice work. could be the picture angle, but the face of the mallet seem to have a bit of a steep angle to it… how does it feel in use?

I like the natural edge on the top. adds a nice character to the banger.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View GMatheson's profile

GMatheson

418 posts in 1574 days


#2 posted 637 days ago

I’ll be honest. I haven’t used it yet but the angle is only 8 degrees from 90

-- Greg in Ontario, Canada

View oscaro928's profile

oscaro928

5 posts in 637 days


#3 posted 637 days ago

Very nice work!!

Oscar

View terryR's profile

terryR

2988 posts in 913 days


#4 posted 637 days ago

What a great whacker! That hornbeam should outlast all of us…
Love the shape of the head!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2253 days


#5 posted 636 days ago

GMatheson: see how you like it during use – just an FYI mine is at 1° (I’ve seen them at 2-5). if you feel it is sliding off the surface it is hitting, try reducing the angle. if it works well – it works well, no need to change anything.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Praki's profile

Praki

196 posts in 2602 days


#6 posted 635 days ago

I have to ask! I have been looking for Hornbeam forever and this is the first time I have seen it in these sizes. Do you know of a source for more Hornbeam billets?

BTW, that mallet looks awesome with that unique head!

-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

View GMatheson's profile

GMatheson

418 posts in 1574 days


#7 posted 635 days ago

Praki I have no idea where to get more hornbeam. It’s been sitting in my shop for years and I’m not sure where my dad got it or how long he had been hoarding it before he gave it to me. I wish I had a source for more.

-- Greg in Ontario, Canada

View Praki's profile

Praki

196 posts in 2602 days


#8 posted 632 days ago

I was half-expecting your answer, but do thank you for your response. I have not seen it in any of the lumberyards I have tried and I will keep looking.

-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

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