Turning a mallet from green osage orange?

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Forum topic by Babieca posted 04-15-2016 08:14 PM 608 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Babieca's profile


120 posts in 927 days

04-15-2016 08:14 PM

I’ve been looking to get my hands on some osage orage to turn a mallet for a little while. I turned one from a maple baseball bat blank and it’s not holding up as well as I had hoped.

Anyway, a guy on craigslist has some osage orange logs that he said he would cut me blanks from, but the wood is green.

I was thinking I could rough it to somewhere close and then seal the end grain and let it sit in a bag of shavings. I could do the microwave or another drying trick as well. I’d rather not let it sit for a couple years to dry out in the shop.

If it was free wood, I’d try a couple different ways and share the knowledge on LJ, but I’d rather not pay good money for something that’s going to end up ion the firewood pile.

Anyone done a green mallet or have experience with osage orange?


7 replies so far

View JayT's profile


4681 posts in 1633 days

#1 posted 04-15-2016 08:52 PM

Osage is incredibly strong and tough and makes a great mallet.

One piece of warning though. When drying, it likes to split, often deeply and sometimes spectacularly (like popping open with a nice, loud bang). That is to say that if you turn it green, it may not survive the drying process. If you can get a piece with pretty straight grain, it will increase your odds tremendously, but still no guarantees.

You might be better off taking a log section, split it in half and let it dry some before turning. Probably won’t turn as nice as when it’s green but you’ll have a better idea of how it wants to split and can try to avoid any problem areas.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View loiblb's profile


99 posts in 478 days

#2 posted 04-16-2016 12:02 AM

I have some cut and in my drying shed. It has the yellow all through it. At this time it’s not split. I too look to turn a mallet with a few of my smaller cut offs. The stuff is heavy

View Wildwood's profile


1854 posts in 1557 days

#3 posted 04-16-2016 12:56 PM

Have never worked with Osage Orange but ruined several Mulberry logs through improper storage. Once bark is removed both woods look and act the same. Both Osage & Mulberry will darken from yellow to brown with age.

Sounds like buying spindle turning blanks completely sealed in wax. Wood completely sealed in wax will not allow moisture escape wood nor gain moisture. Wet wood is a relative term used by vendors because actual moisture content unknown.

Buyers need to scrap off wax from sides of blanks but leave wax on ends. Then either weigh blanks or use a moisture meter to get a ballpark MC to work with.

Using postage, kitchen or bathroom scale will give starting weight, as wood dries loses MC when weight remains same couple weeks in a row wood has reached EMC with its environment.
With a moisture meter get a rough estimate as soon as you check with meter. Even with inexpensive meters might see a minor difference in percentage take reading in morning & evening, sunny or rainy days.

Soon after my Mulberry disaster found this meter being discussed on various message boards because Lowe’s selling them for less than $10 so bought one. Also built a better storage shed for my turning wood. Well been a price increase but still recommend it!

Text books will tell you need a moisture content between 6 to 9 percent for your part of the country for indoor use. Think you would be safe to start turning at less than 16-18% MC.

-- Bill

View boisdearc's profile


44 posts in 758 days

#4 posted 04-16-2016 03:50 PM

One thing about it, when you put the dry mallet handle in the green mallet head it should never come out because of the tremendous power of shrinking wood..

View loiblb's profile


99 posts in 478 days

#5 posted 04-16-2016 04:12 PM

I have several of these green mesquite heads on green pecan handles. The mesquite acts like it may be too brittle for hard use. I may be wrong.

So I hope the Osage Orange works for my next run.

View Babieca's profile


120 posts in 927 days

#6 posted 04-16-2016 04:47 PM

Thanks for all of your responses.

It sounds like the osage orange really wants to split, so I will probably pass on it, especially as he wants nearly as much as it would cost to get a blank online, where I will hopefully have a better idea what I’m getting.

View Kirk650's profile


272 posts in 171 days

#7 posted 05-08-2016 06:07 PM

I’ve just joined the forum. Howdy.

I’ve made several mallets, mojito muddlers, pestles, and a couple of small bowls from Osage Orange. The splitting of the wood as it dries is the biggest problem, and a hard one to defeat. I believe, though I haven’t yet proven it to myself, that if you harvest the wood in the winter, when the sap isn’t running, it may split less.

Going on memory, the mallets were all turned from dead limbs from my big tree in the yard. It seems that the larger the diameter of the wood (trunk versus limb), the more it splits. I’ve tried several approaches to try to get it to dry without splitting. Nothing works great, but painting the ends and chainsawing a big diameter chunk of wood longways helps a bit. It still splits, but I’ve been able to recover large enough up split pieces to turn.

Not one turned Bowl from Osage Orange has survived in the desired turned form – cracks, splits, and deformation as it dries further. And good luck keeping the golden yellow color.. Keeping it out of direct or even indirect sunlight helps.

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