Joiner's Mallet

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Project by JSOvens posted 07-13-2015 06:16 AM 1929 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Shown here is a joiner’s mallet I recently made out of hard maple. It follows the general style and design of the mallet presented by Paul Sellers in both his blog and YouTube channel. My original plan was to make a “fancier” mallet with contrasting woods …etc, but when I saw his completed mallet, I became very much attracted to it, so decided to make one for myself.

For the most part, I followed Paul’s methodology as presented in his YouTube series with a few differences. I am not a “hand tool only” wood worker, thus I did the major milling using a table saw and planer. Furthermore, I did not have access to stock 3” thick (the dimension Paul used for the thickness of the head), so the head on my mallet is made of two 1.5” laminated pieces. This actually simplified the mortise, as I was able to simply make a channel in each piece of the head, which would form the mortise once glued together.

I used Paul’s series as a rough guide to the shaping, but mostly I just had fun with it! I had just acquired my first spokeshave (a Veritas flat) and was eager to try it out. Thus, unlike Paul who used a No. 4 for almost all shaping, I used my new spokeshave for nearly all shaping which included a slight rounding of the faces, roundovers on all edges and the little “divots” seen on the underside of the head. The handle was given a comfortable feel, also using the spokeshave.

Since my skills with a shave are not well developed, so I had a lot of smoothing left afterward which was surprisingly easily done with a combination of scraping and sanding at 220 then 320 grit. This is really my first foray into freehand shaping, so if you are on the fence about trying it out, it’s time to hop off of it because you will be surprised at what you can come up with (also it’s a LOT of fun)!

I used a pure tung oil finish. This is the first time I’ve used tung oil, and I thought a shop project such as this would be a good candidate to try out a new finish – it turned out great! It really shows off the depth of the maple, yet still retains the nice feel of a wooden mallet.

Well, I didn’t expect so much could be written about such a simple project, I hope you found the story enjoyable!

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

8 comments so far

View derrickparks57's profile


128 posts in 1290 days

#1 posted 07-13-2015 12:32 PM

Looks good! Nice clean mortise, sometimes the plain look comes out nicer.

-- Derrick, Florida, DP Woodwerks

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2285 days

#2 posted 07-13-2015 12:59 PM

It’s a nice tool and a fine addition to your shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 595 days

#3 posted 07-13-2015 01:03 PM

Nice looking mallet!

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Mambrax's profile


138 posts in 910 days

#4 posted 07-13-2015 03:18 PM

very simple, clean and well done. Love it !

-- Let's do the best we can !

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2753 days

#5 posted 07-13-2015 03:48 PM

Nicely done Jeffrey. You can really wack a chisel handle with this without ruining it. I had a very similar one that I made and used for many years before the glue joint finally gave way. I really miss it and I need to make a new one real soon.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View lumberboss's profile


27 posts in 510 days

#6 posted 07-13-2015 05:25 PM

Great Job! Next On My Project List!

View rhybeka's profile


2605 posts in 2540 days

#7 posted 07-13-2015 11:43 PM

that’s neat Jeffrey! I have one of those on my list as well and have been watching Paul Sellers videos on it as well! I’m glad you had fun with it and didn’t overthink it :)

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View JSOvens's profile


70 posts in 1075 days

#8 posted 07-15-2015 09:04 PM

Thank you all for the kind words! I have decided to take on more small projects like these to hone my hand tool skills (shaping, planing, joinery …etc) during the weekday evenings, when using power tools would otherwise disturb the neighbours.

Next up will be some small hand-cut finger jointed boxes for cutlery drawer organization. I look forward to using my new mallet in their making!

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

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