Mallets for 2017 Surprise Tool Swap

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Project by RichCMD posted 02-15-2017 03:29 PM 1022 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My surprise swap items were four different kinds of wooden mallets. Three resemble mallets I had made previously for myself. The fourth was a journey of discovery. My theory on wooden mallets is that they are meant to be used, and all of mine show dings and dents from usage. Better for the mallet to take the dent than whatever I am hitting with it. I made all of these mallets based on that theory, so I tried to keep everything simple, functional, and hopefully durable.

One thing I learned doing this project is that there is not much consensus about what to call the various types of wooden mallets. It seemed like the more I tried to sort it out, the more confusing it became. The names I use here are my best guess for what to call each type, but if you know that type by a different name I could not say you are wrong.

The woodcarver’s mallet was the simplest to make. It is turned from Kentucky coffee tree, which is one of my favorite woods. I have one similar to this that is holding up pretty well, so I have hopes for this one.

The carpenter’s mallet is made from a single red oak board, and is the only one of the four that did not involve turning on the lathe. It is constructed of four pieces along the lines of plans that can be found all over the place. I cut the faces at a five degree angle, which is to supposed adjust for the arc of a normal arm swing so that the face is perpendicular to the end of a chisel. I don’t know if that is really true, but it sounded good, so I did it. The handle is wrapped in leather cord. Nothing fancy, but I think it feels good in the hand and makes it easier to hold onto the mallet.

The head of the cabinetmaker’s mallet is turned from a glued up block of maple and walnut. The handle is turned from what I thought was maple, but given the difference in color with the maple in the head, I am now not so sure. I think this mallet may be the most attractive of the four. The design is similar to one I made in one of the very first woodturning courses I took, except the head of that one was a single solid block of wood.

The dead blow mallet was my venture into new territory. This is my attempt to make a wooden dead blow mallet with a turned head that uses no metal parts except, of course, for the BB’s inside. The design is pretty much a synthesis of a lot of other peoples’ designs for making a wooden dead blow mallet, but is not exactly like any of them. The head is turned from a single block of marblewood, and the handle is turned from hickory. I hollowed out both ends of the head, but the left the center section, where the handle attaches, solid. I turned a walnut cap for each end that I glued on after filling the hollows with BB’s. I then glued leather onto the ends. I had trouble finding the leather, and I think what I ended up using was too thin. I hope to get much thicker leather for the ends the next time I try this.

-- Ride the bevel!

9 comments so far

View KelleyCrafts's profile


3307 posts in 939 days

#1 posted 02-15-2017 03:53 PM

That deadblow is even nicer than I originally thought. I’m loving the walnut end caps. Definitely thicker leather but the marble wood is fantastic. They all look amazing but I might need to try your process for that deadblow. Fantastic job!

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View JayT's profile


5960 posts in 2411 days

#2 posted 02-15-2017 04:14 PM

Terrific execution, Rich, all very useful. I particularly love the deadblow.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View HokieKen's profile


7069 posts in 1338 days

#3 posted 02-15-2017 04:25 PM

Very nice Rich. I know for sure they’d all get used in my shop. I really like the method for the deadblow. I’ll have to give that one a shot.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View waho6o9's profile


8516 posts in 2777 days

#4 posted 02-15-2017 04:41 PM

Great mallets and I like the look of the Kentucky coffee tree, reminds me of ash or oak, very nice.

I like all of them, good job!

View Kelly's profile


2125 posts in 3144 days

#5 posted 02-15-2017 05:58 PM

Those are nice. The dead blow looks like an interesting challenge. I suspect you are set with mallets for a while now.


View bobasaurus's profile


3544 posts in 3384 days

#6 posted 02-15-2017 06:25 PM

Those are some nice mallets, well done.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View jeffswildwood's profile


3599 posts in 2177 days

#7 posted 02-15-2017 06:34 PM

Wonderful set of mallets buddy! One for each application and should last a long time!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6301 posts in 3394 days

#8 posted 02-16-2017 12:20 AM

Those are some beautiful mallets….I’m not a turner, and seeing work like this done on a lathe makes me wish I was…..If fact, I’ve never tried to make a mallet, but I like the one you called a carpenters mallet…..They are all great, and each one has a specific use…..

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View ToddJB's profile


8294 posts in 2330 days

#9 posted 02-16-2017 04:58 PM

Awesome job, Rich. That dead blow is so cool!

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

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