Second shop-made mallet, first shop-made dowel

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Project by JasonD posted 08-01-2010 05:02 PM 3079 views 5 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Late last night, I realized I was getting tired and didn’t want to keep working on my “main” project for fear of making a mistake while half asleep. But I was “in the zone” and didn’t want to stop working. I grabbed a handful of maple and red oak scraps and decided to make a new mallet.

The highlight of this project was that my son walked into the shop right as I was getting started and he and I got to hang out while making it. I let him make about half the cross cuts to get the pieces into their initial dimensioned sizes. He’d never used a backsaw or a bench hook before, so he had a lot of fun.

I started woodworking about 8 months ago and early on recognized that I needed a mallet since I primarily work with hand tools only. Using some maple and red oak scraps at the time, I built a small mallet which has served me well, but doesn’t have the heft I’d like for certain jobs. So, I grabbed some more scraps and got to work at around midnight last night.

My first mallet has a wedge in the handle’s through tenon at the top of the mallet head’s mortise. For this one, I wanted to try something different: the same through tenon, but pegged with a hand-made dowel instead of the wedge. To make the dowel, I cut a 3” long piece of red oak about 7/8” square. Then, I hand-planed it down to 3/4” square.

I drew intersecting lines on the end grain of each side to find the center and used a compass to draw a 3/4” circle around each end. I used these circles on each side of end grain as guides as I planed it down in a series of overlapping chamfers with my block plane. Planing such a small piece was a challenge. I held the plane in my right hand and drug the piece across it with my left hand. Doing this while tired was NOT a good idea, as I planed off a nice chunk (about 1/8” sq) out of my left pinky fingernail. Lesson learned! :)

Glue / clamped everything up and left it alone for about an hour. I planed the sides / top / faces of the head and dowel flat with my jack plane and chamfered the edges of the head and bottom of the handle with my block plane. I chamfered and rounded the sides of the handle with a paring chisel. Finally, I finished it with a coat of boiled linseed oil.

The 2nd picture is the tools I used to make the mallet and dowel; including my shop-made bench hook and the first mallet I made a few months ago. The 3rd picture (which unfortunately isn’t very clear thanks to the flash) shows the chunk missing out of the right side of my pinky fingernail.

I’m realize that I’m a VERY novice woodworker and welcome any and all critiques; good or bad that can help me in my journey. Thanks for reading.

4 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10097 posts in 4049 days

#1 posted 08-01-2010 05:50 PM

Nice mallet… nice use of spare time… :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3238 days

#2 posted 08-01-2010 06:37 PM

Nice Mallet, and since I need one, thanks for the guidance and inspiration!

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2651 days

#3 posted 03-17-2011 03:20 PM

Ouch! (I know it was a long time ago). Cuts and scrapes happen though at least it was not major.

I made a dowel for a clothing rod a while ago out of poplar, it was some of the most fun I had in the shop in a long time. Just me, my bench, two planes, and a pile of shavings on the floor.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View JasonD's profile


180 posts in 2858 days

#4 posted 03-21-2011 04:26 PM

RG, I was holding a block plane in one hand and dragging the dowel across with the other. The problem was that I was doing it while tired and I got careless on one of the passes and shaved off a nice chunk of finger nail.

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