Dont do this: Mallet edition

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Blog entry by Chase posted 04-01-2013 12:06 AM 4089 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I should start a series of “Chase screws up a project, so don’t follow in his footsteps” blog entries. I made a wooden mallet out of maple and some unknown scrap for the handle following (more or less) the WoodWorking for Mere Mortals method. I used BBs for the weight and leather on the surfaces. It worked out pretty well until I went to use it the first time.

The leather face flew off after the first hit, and the maple dented badly. Full disclosure, I did hit a piece of metal with the mallet, though not very hard. I think a breakdown of the lessons are as follows:

1. Soft maple might be too soft for a mallet. That was end grain that got hit, what grain direction does everyone else use for the mallet face?

2. Rubber cement does not hold leather onto the mallet face well at all. Do most people use contact cement?

3. Never hit metal with your mallet… Even when you think you are hitting gently.

On the bright side I can probably split the head and get the bbs back. The mallet felt a bit heavy, so I will use a smaller cavity this time. Also the handle could have been a smidge longer for my taste. I will probably try again soon with oak instead of maple.

Any other lessons people have learned about mallet construction and use? I would like to reduce the number of disaster posts I produce.


-- Every neighborhood has an eccentric neighbor. I wondered for years "who was ours?" Then I realized it was me.

12 comments so far

View justoneofme's profile


671 posts in 2721 days

#1 posted 04-01-2013 05:53 AM

This is a good “screw-up blog” you’ve posted Chase!! LOL Nothing ventured … nothing gained. Sounds like you’ll gain yourself a new and improved mallet! Sorry I can’t offer any advice. My retired wood work’n buddy gave me an oak mallet he had made. It looks so beautiful I don’t have the heart to scuff it up by using it!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30153 posts in 2579 days

#2 posted 04-01-2013 07:55 AM

The thing is that you can’t plan ahead for disaster blogs. They just occur. The occur to everyone. For some folks they are few and far between. For me they tend to be a way of life. That’s also one reason I am better working alone. I don’toffend anyone with my noise pollution when I screw up.

The end grain is correct for the face. Soft maple is probably too soft.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3983 days

#3 posted 04-01-2013 01:09 PM

Use contact cement for leather to wood. Rubber cement is best for leather to leather to temporarily hold prior to lacing or stitching.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View abie's profile


882 posts in 4012 days

#4 posted 04-01-2013 03:12 PM

My first attempt at this mallet used EPIE, a very hard wood, btw it does not like glue or epoxy.
my first hit he whole thing blew apart, bbs everywhere.
nice looking mallet but a disaster.
EPIE does not like glue or anything else …..only screws…


-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View abie's profile


882 posts in 4012 days

#5 posted 04-01-2013 03:27 PM

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View waho6o9's profile


8539 posts in 2818 days

#6 posted 04-01-2013 03:36 PM

I’ve use this adhesive in the past with great success.

View stefang's profile


16219 posts in 3575 days

#7 posted 04-01-2013 07:32 PM

I think leather is a waste of time and materials, although It may slightly reduce recoil. My mallet is with end grain and I mainly use it to bonk my bench chisels with. The chisel handles show no sign of abuse after several years. I never, NEVER hit metal objects with it. My mallet is made (not so well) of beech. —-the screws became necessary after a few years and it is now on it’s last leg after about 9 or 10 years.


-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5819 posts in 3054 days

#8 posted 04-01-2013 07:36 PM

I have used superglue with success for bonding leather to wood.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3192 days

#9 posted 04-01-2013 07:38 PM

I see that you dented it, but is there anything else wrong with the mallet that you can no longer use it?

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2601 days

#10 posted 04-02-2013 02:57 AM

Character dent!

I would use it as is to be honest. My mallet wasn’t pretty to begin with – and after a couple years of persuading things into place it’s even less pretty. Still works like a charm though.

-- Steve

View hjt's profile


903 posts in 3379 days

#11 posted 04-02-2013 04:12 AM

Hey – are you sugggesting that some people DON’T have screw ups? Heck I hvae screw up in the begining, middle, and the end. I thought that was just how it goes.

-- Harold

View Chase's profile


448 posts in 3267 days

#12 posted 04-02-2013 10:38 AM

ok, everyone has convinced me. I am going to keep it. I got some contact cement last night to help cover up the dent. I might still make a lighter, all oak, mallet, but this one will not meet its demise any time soon.


-- Every neighborhood has an eccentric neighbor. I wondered for years "who was ours?" Then I realized it was me.

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