Rationale: I aspire to blend hand tools and power tools. So—I needed a wooden mallet and “practice with a purpose.” This is only my third project in my shop. Right now I am keeping my projects small until I have and inkling of skill and efficiency. I perused multiple projects on LJ’s to get ideas and guidance but the most influential posts were from Purplev and The Village Carpenter.
Design: I don’t have a lathe so no round mallet for me. I like the angularity of the commercial cabinetmaker’s mallet but the proportions of the head are too big. In order to get the appropriate weight this means lead epoxied into the head or a heavy wood. The head proportions are approximate to the golden rectangle of 1.618. The handle is sculpted more than the usual cylindrical dowel shape. The first shaping was a little too curvy and sanded it further to make the curves a little more subtle.
Materials: Some donated cherry cut-offs serve as the handle. The head is jatoba which solved my weight requirements but its hardness, I suspect, will marr my wooden tools. Thus they are capped with leather.
Construction: The head is laminated with the center layer the same thickness as the handle tenon. Actually, it is slightly thinner and I block planed the tenon to fit. This accomplished by gluing the center layer to a side first and then sneaking up on the fit. The Jatoba was really hard for me to plane so used a cabinet scaper a lot after glue up.
The handle is also a glue up of the cherry scraps to make 1.5×1.5” stock. The shape started out as a modified trace of my ball-peen hammer. It was cut on the band saw and shaped of the spindle sander. (NOTE: Now I see the utility of a spokeshave) The head is secured to the handle via a double wedged tenon in a 3 degree tapered mortise. Strike angle is optimized by a 3 degree cut on the striking surface.
The leather is applied with contact cement.
Finish: Use a 3:2:1 mixture of mineral spirits, polyurethane and linseed oil as popularized by Tage Frid and taught to me by Gregory Paolini. The first coat was applied with 400 grit wet dry paper until it produced a slurry. The subsequent coats went on as a standard wipe on varnish.
Results/Conclusion: I am pleased with the results. The final weight is 19 oz and feels balanced. I am humored by the irony however. I spent several hours perseverating over something as stone simple as a hammer and then negotiating the details of its construction and finish – only to beat things with it. This is fun.
Thanks for looking
Planing the mill marks off the scrap cherry
Glue up of the cherry to get 1.5” x 1.5” stock
I traced out the basic shape of the handle from my ball-peen hammer, rough cut it on the bandsaw and shaped it on the spindle sander. I would further sand it because I felt it was too large and bulbous.
Double cut of the tenon with the dozuki saw. I drilled the base so the wood would not split.
One side and the center lamination of the Jatoba head have been glued up. The center is cut with a 3 degree angle to accept the wedged tenon. The wedges are not all the way in – I am just checking the fit.
The finished product. I put leather pads on to soften the hard Jatoba.
-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty