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Claw Hammer with Bench Chisels?

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Forum topic by Alan S posted 1428 days ago 3043 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Alan S

172 posts in 1914 days


1428 days ago

I’m sure it’s not ideal, but is it acceptable to use a claw hammer to chop with a set of bench chisels like the Irwin Marples? I’d love a wooden mallet like some of you have made on here, but I’m just starting out. Thanks!
Alan


15 replies so far

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3272 posts in 1791 days


#1 posted 1428 days ago

Greetings Alan,
I guess if that’s all you have, it has to be exceptable for you…...but I wouldn’t use one on a set of good chisels…...If you can’t make a wooden mallet yet, you can always buy one from woodworking supply dealers like Rockler, Woodworkers Supply, Woodcraft, etc., etc. I have 2 sets of chisels, and wouldn’t ever dream of laying a hammerhead on any of them…..You can always improvise, overcome, adapt….....

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1829 days


#2 posted 1428 days ago

Alan,

The odds of missing and whacking your hand with a claw hammer is MUCH greater…

FWIW, you CAN, and might be better off using a rubber mallet with chisels… Wooden mallets are ideal, and I am hoping to get there soon myself…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Kindlingmaker's profile

Kindlingmaker

2654 posts in 2123 days


#3 posted 1428 days ago

If you want a cheap wood mallet in a hurry get an old baseball bat and cut it down. I have used a finishing nail hammer (claw hammer with no knurling on the hammer face) and it was ok with light taps but… Try and find something a bit more suitable and you will be amazed what a difference it makes.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

1667 posts in 1705 days


#4 posted 1428 days ago

You splurged on chisels, don’t stop now. I made a couple of “mallets” from some hard maple and birch I bought many years ago. They were used to drive leather tools for my Cub Scouts. The heads are maple, the handles are birch dowels. Cheap, but effective. I still have both, but have (Pfiel) woodcarving chisels. Not something you’d use a mallet on…though I don’t use them yet for more than some custom trimming on my high-power rockets.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2130 posts in 1705 days


#5 posted 1428 days ago

Alan,

The mallets you see used on chisels are round for a reason. When you are striking the chisel, the focus you want to have is on where the chisel connects, not on the handle. When you use a round mallet, you can concentrate on the work piece because no matter how you strike the chisel, you will hit it dead on. When you use a rubber mallet or claw hammer you have to focus your eye hand coordination on the chisel handle to make sure you hit dead center. This in turn raises the potential for a bad hit and driving your chisel in a direction you don’t want it to go. Many of the online woodworking stores have brass head and solid wood mallets. I picked up a 32 oz. one from Highland Woodworking. It is small, hefty, and allows you to dig deep or just give it light taps. It is occasionally on sale at 1/2 price. I would invest in one of those or a wood mallet if you do not have the immediate means to make one.

Good luck,

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2245 days


#6 posted 1428 days ago

the metal head of the hammer will also wear out, crack and ruin your chisels.

I just made a mallet last week – it’s GREAT. but until now I was just using a scrap piece of maple, or other hardwood piece I had laying around. just works better than metal

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View JimDaddyO's profile

JimDaddyO

286 posts in 1676 days


#7 posted 1428 days ago

I just used a piece of cut off 2×4 with mine….not great chisels, craftsman.

-- I still have all my fingers

View BTKS's profile

BTKS

1967 posts in 2061 days


#8 posted 1428 days ago

Any wood striking tool would be better than metal on metal or metal on plastic handle. I’d follow the advice above and use a scrap before deforming good chisels with a metal hammer. Good question!
BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Alan S's profile

Alan S

172 posts in 1914 days


#9 posted 1428 days ago

Thanks for all the replies! It seems like great advice. Can someone tell me when to use a “round” mallet and when to use a “flat-faced” mallet?

By “round” mallet I mean something like this

and by “flat-faced” I mean this

Thanks!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3272 posts in 1791 days


#10 posted 1428 days ago

Greetings Alan,

The “round face” mallets are used mainly by carvers

The “square face, or flat face” mallets are used mainly by joiners, or jointers (I heard it called both ways…....

I think actually both are used by both the carvers and joiners…I’m not a carver, so I prefer the square face one myself…. better for the chisels for me….. lol.

Most of the turners on here usually make their own round ones on the lathe…

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

760 posts in 1548 days


#11 posted 1428 days ago

Hi Alan, good choice deciding to use a wood mallet on your chisels. Ones like yours should be used with a wooden mallet. A metal hammer should be used on japanese chisels. Anyway, for the two mallets you show on your last post, I have one of each type. I use the round one for light work, anything other than heavy chopping. For heavy chopping, I use the flat faced one.

Good Luck!

-- Mike

View swirt's profile

swirt

1935 posts in 1568 days


#12 posted 1428 days ago

A mallet is pretty easy to make, but just in case you want a possible quicker / easier alternative, Lowes has a white rubber mallet that sells for about $4. It works pretty well on chisels and assembly tasks. I prefer the white rubber over the black, because it doesn’t leave marks on the wood.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View rimfire7891's profile

rimfire7891

123 posts in 1499 days


#13 posted 1427 days ago

Wooden handle chisel, wooden or urethane mallet
Plastic handle, either
Wooden handle hopped, either, better with steel IMHO Claw hammer OK but others are better balanced.
Round or square. Straight cuts full cutting edge square. Partial cuts like carving round because you might want to hit just the edge of the top.

Thanks jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

240 posts in 1720 days


#14 posted 1427 days ago

I have a set of Stanley chisels with metal plates on the handle. I use a 3 lb maul with them! The work I use them for is cutting mortises for electrical outles for a log house. I keep them sharp and only use them for coarse work like this.

I have a set of Lie-Nielsen chisels that ONLY see a wood mallet.

It all comes down to their purpose in life.

-- Tony - http://ravensedgetoolworks.com

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 2330 days


#15 posted 1427 days ago

I frequently use a piece of 2×4 as a mallet. Probably wouldn’t be happy with it if I had to work with the chisels for a long period but for a few strokes, it works ok. I have the same Marples chisels and don’t want to ruin the plastic handles using a metal striking implement. Actually, with a little shaping, a piece of 2×4 would make a decent mallet.

Jim

-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

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