2012 Mallet Swap Entry for Bertha

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Project by Cosmicsniper posted 12-30-2012 05:44 AM 2625 views 19 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was very excited to find out about the mallet swap for this Christmas. 22 guys making mallets and then swapping them Chinese Christmas-style was just too good of an idea. Part of me was intimidated, not so much because I didn’t have confidence to produce something worthy of a fellow Lumberjock, but rather that this mallet would only be the 2nd such mallet I’d ever made.

To make matters worse, I drew “Bertha” as my recipient. Now, as any LJ knows, that’s equal parts fun and intimidating all on its own. In over the three years of being an LJ, Al is one of the guys I’ve truly enjoyed reading and following. You never know what to expect from Al, and I certainly wanted to make sure he was surprised by what he expected from me. I think I succeeded with this mallet.

The mallet head is two piece, QS white oak, with the handle mortise slot cut with dado blade on the TS and widened at the top with chisel once glued up. Handle is also white oak, with quartersawn direction inline with mallet faces for more strength. I cut the handle with jigsaw and brought to final dimension with the spindle sander, followed by sandpaper/scraper.

Rebates for the ebony were obviously done prior to attaching the head to the handle. That was the hardest part, making sure they were all consistently sized and in line for seamless transition between head and handle.

The ebony “brackets” from below the faces are one piece on each side, again cut with jig saw, sanded to a line on the spindle sander, and hand-sanded/scraped to give a pillowed look. Ebony for the faces are 1/4” deep, separate from the brackets. In retrospect, I would not do this again, as I had forgotten how brittle ebony is and it’s probably not that durable if its pounded. We shall see, but the good part about it is that Al will be able to remove 1/4” from the face and get back down to flat oak faces in the event that the ebony explodes…and he has my permission to do that if needed. The ebony in the face already has some hairline cracks, so I’m leery about it.

The wedges are simple…4 pieces of ebony, left proud of the mallet head. It’s not the prettiest job, but it works.

The “tsuba” ebony inlay in the side of the mallet head is shaped by hand, the outline for which was cut with trim router and small up-cut spiral bit. It is purely cosmetic, not hiding a pin or dowel of any kind, though it certainly could have…I didn’t see it as necessary.

Finish is simple natural Watco Danish Oil and wax. I did some sanding/filling of the ebony after glued, the dust of which clogged the pores of the oak slightly. I’d prevent that from happening if I did it again, but it gave the oak a pickled look, darker than I originally intended.

As I mentioned in the letter I sent Al that was packaged with the gift, the elements of the mallet are all Greene and Greene. The tsuba is obvious, as is the pillowed ebony, but not so obvious is probably all of the cloud-lifts, both in the handle and in the head. But the synergy of the elements makes it look more like a Norse war hammer than anything resembling G&G. And that’s fine. I’m currently building my wife a G&G table, so it made sense to mill up some of the same wood I already was using.

Again, it’s a really fun thing to be a part of…and I look forward to doing more LJ swaps in the future.

-- jay,

17 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


115690 posts in 3185 days

#1 posted 12-30-2012 05:47 AM

Super looking mallet.

-- Custom furniture

View Brian Strothcamp's profile

Brian Strothcamp

111 posts in 2301 days

#2 posted 12-30-2012 06:11 AM

damn sweet… id be proud to own that one!

View carguy460's profile


800 posts in 1943 days

#3 posted 12-30-2012 06:28 AM

Epic mallet my friend…I envy your craftsmanship and design!

-- Jason K

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 1809 days

#4 posted 12-30-2012 08:56 AM

Sweet Mallet Jay ,great lookin design…...

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View BTimmons's profile


2301 posts in 2093 days

#5 posted 12-30-2012 09:07 AM

Daaamn. It’s very stylish without being gauche. And yet, it looks robust enough that I wouldn’t be afraid to whack something with it.

-- Brian Timmons -

View olegahg's profile


58 posts in 1591 days

#6 posted 12-30-2012 02:05 PM

best looking mallet a have ever seen

View waho6o9's profile


7640 posts in 2184 days

#7 posted 12-30-2012 02:20 PM

Beautiful work Cosmicsniper, the contrast and details are pleasing
to the eye, and it’s beefy enough to smack some chisels.

Good job.

View Woodbridge's profile


3480 posts in 2026 days

#8 posted 12-30-2012 03:01 PM

great looking mallet. I really like the ebony brackets, a great design touch.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Grumpymike's profile


2039 posts in 1923 days

#9 posted 12-30-2012 04:04 PM

Wonderful piece of work there, You put alot of thought into this piece and it really showa.
My wife would probabily try it out on my head to see if it works as well as it looks …

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View ShaneA's profile


6651 posts in 2206 days

#10 posted 12-30-2012 04:19 PM

taken to a new level, kind of G&G looking. Amazing, bordering on unusable, due to its greatness.

View Mosquito's profile


8571 posts in 1900 days

#11 posted 12-30-2012 05:24 PM

Excellent work. I like the shape, and the ebony accents.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Don W's profile

Don W

18252 posts in 2175 days

#12 posted 12-30-2012 05:37 PM

I now understand Al’s willingness to give up 10 years worth of sex for it.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2766 days

#13 posted 12-30-2012 06:39 PM

Awesome comments, y’all. Very humbling and very much appreciated.

-- jay,

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2298 days

#14 posted 12-31-2012 02:20 AM

If Bertha ain’t impressed with that, there’s no justice in the world! Nice work.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View walden's profile


1552 posts in 1630 days

#15 posted 12-31-2012 02:24 AM

I never knew a mallet could be sexy, but I think you succeeded. That is gorgeous!

-- "I am hiring a realtor if and when the day comes a lion is on my roof."

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