What kinda wood should I use?

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Forum topic by Raftermonkey posted 02-06-2011 10:34 PM 1553 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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560 posts in 2935 days

02-06-2011 10:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip carving tool lathe mallet burl carving

Hey folks, I am in need of a wood mallet to use while hand carving with chisels and gouges. I plan on doing a few “markets” this year and I would like to be working on something while I’m sitting around trying to make a sell. I will be hand carving bowls. I would like to “turn” a mallet on the lathe to assist me with some of the hand gouging but I’m unsure of what type of wood I want to use. I would like for it to be something visually pleasing as well as hard and heavy. Preferably some type of burl wood, since most of my work is done using burls. What are some good candidates of hard, heavy burl woods that will stand up to years of use?



-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

9 replies so far

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3377 days

#1 posted 02-06-2011 11:07 PM

I have one of these mallets made by Kent… it is Bubinga and Maple…

You could try this.....

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View StumpyNubs's profile


7598 posts in 2823 days

#2 posted 02-06-2011 11:40 PM

It depends on how heavy you want it, and how nice you want it to look. Use ash or some other domestic hardwood for a durable, not too heavy one. Maple and Walnut look nice together too. If you want something heavy and pretty, consider a mixture of exoctics. Sorry to be so vague, but it’s hard to choose just one wood!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3745 days

#3 posted 02-06-2011 11:58 PM

Maple or Ash gets my vote for the head. For the handle use something that adds color.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3097 days

#4 posted 02-07-2011 12:03 AM

I would discourage you on burls. The internal integrity of burl wood is often questionable. It may not stand up to the force of being used as a mallet. With burl you never know.

I’m a exotic wood fan and I would seriously consider Lignum Vitae. Be advised that it is very heavy and you may want to mix it with another wood to keep the weight down. It is also the hardest wood around with a Janda Index of 4000. It is also very pretty when properly finished. Finally, the aroma it releases when being cut or turned is amazingly nice.

FYI – Lignum Vitae was, at one time, the wood of choice for the clubs used by British Bobbies (policemen).

Other exotic options – Cocobolo, Bubinga or Goncala Alves (tiger wood). All are solid, hard and pretty.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7598 posts in 2823 days

#5 posted 02-07-2011 05:47 AM

If it’s good enough for a Brit to use as a club to beat on some hooligan’s head, it’s good enough to tap on your chisels!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3968 days

#6 posted 02-07-2011 07:19 AM

Wack A hooligan for me. Lignum Vitae sounds like a winner.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4947 posts in 3983 days

#7 posted 02-09-2011 06:39 PM

Though not a dramatic wood, dogwood is my wood of choice for mallets, gluts, mauls and chisel handles. VERY tough. It will take a heck of a lot of pounding.


View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 2935 days

#8 posted 02-09-2011 10:47 PM

Hey, thanks for all of the suggestions everybody. I will definitly keep all of these choices in mind for future use. I think I am going to try to find a nice solid piece of Maple burl. I won’t have too much money in it so if it does end up breaking one day I will return here and pick from the list you guys have given me. I apologize for maybe wasting ya’lls time by doing what I was gonna do anyway. I guess I was just wanting “confirmation” from ya’ll. Again, I apologize, but hey, I did learn of more superior woods to use for this application, and for that I am truly thankful.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3809 days

#9 posted 02-10-2011 03:14 AM

If you want a tough, attractive and also traditional mallet, use the bottom end of a dogwood, the head being turned from the root ball. Because dogwood is slow growing and hard, the intertwined grains of the root ball make it very wear resistant and shock proof.

The mallet in my avatar is one I carved from a dogwood tree (couldn’t get the root as it was intertwined in the oak it was growing next to). Just used a saw and a draw knife. Don’t have a lathe. It is some hard tough wood!!


-- Go

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