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Tricky mallet question

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Forum topic by Rick M posted 01-13-2015 09:03 PM 1633 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rick M

7929 posts in 1846 days


01-13-2015 09:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mallet ironwood

I agreed to turn a carving mallet for a fellow woodworker. He brings me green ironwood that is about 3”-3.5” in diameter, with the pith. He says he doesn’t care if it cracks but it seems like a waste of effort unless I can deal with the pith. Wondering if I can just drill out the pith and replace it with a dowel. Might even be better to make it 2 pieces and just make the head from ironwood, drill out the pith, put a tenon on the handle but I’m worried the handle will crack or break as the wood dries. I’m open to suggestions, advice.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/


22 replies so far

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doubleDD

5243 posts in 1509 days


#1 posted 01-13-2015 09:25 PM

Sounds just what I had on the mallet I posted recently. The ironwood had some pith and a couple tiny cracks were starting. I didn’t want to take a chance since I was using it for whacking things. I like your idea about drilling out the pith and doweling it. If there isn’t that much it should work. That is definitely better than nothing. Capping the ends with a different wood could also be a option. You will still have the effect of the iron wood that way. As far as the handle go I wouldn’t use it for that unless you can cut the pith away and make a split handle.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

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TheDane

4997 posts in 3129 days


#2 posted 01-13-2015 09:30 PM

I think you are on the right track … drill the pith out of the head, and turn a separate handle. Do you have enough wood to turn a handle without getting into the pith? As a ‘bonus’ you could fill the drilled out space in the lead with BB’s or lead shot.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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Hammerthumb

2533 posts in 1441 days


#3 posted 01-13-2015 09:40 PM

Don’t know Rick, but one thing I can tell you is Ironwood takes a long time to dry out.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

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Rick M

7929 posts in 1846 days


#4 posted 01-14-2015 03:32 AM

The section of trunk he brought me is about 3 feet long so I could turn up to 3 full length mallets, or 6 mallet heads. The challenge of turning a whole mallet is that I doubt I can drill straight enough to follow the pith over 12”, and I don’t have a drill bit that long anyway. I floated the idea of using a different species for the handle and he didn’t object although I’m sure he’d rather have the whole thing ironwood. Ah! But I could make it 2 pieces and use an accent wood between handle and head, best of both worlds. The unknown for me is how much that ironwood will shrink.

Here is the sample mallet he wants me to copy.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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bandit571

14610 posts in 2149 days


#5 posted 01-14-2015 03:54 AM

Looks like a skinny verion of mine..

Inherited the skrawny one, turn the fat boy to match my hands from Spalted maple…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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Rick M

7929 posts in 1846 days


#6 posted 01-14-2015 04:18 AM

Sitting here thinking about it, if I drill out the pith and insert a dowel the ironwood will just crack anyway since it’s not the pith causing the cracking but the different contraction rates of the wood shrinking as it dries. Basically I’m replacing one pith with another. I think it will have to be drilled, rough turned, dried, then turned again. I’ll talk it over with the fellow and see what he wants to do.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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bondogaposis

4036 posts in 1817 days


#7 posted 01-14-2015 04:55 AM

I think it will have to be drilled, rough turned, dried, then turned again.

That seems like the most prudent course and is the way I would want to do it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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ElChe

630 posts in 802 days


#8 posted 01-14-2015 05:05 AM

Maybe if you can figure out a way to infuse the pith with some type of acrylic polymer resin like the cool mallets from Blue Spruce or epoxy?

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

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Rick M

7929 posts in 1846 days


#9 posted 01-14-2015 05:25 AM


Maybe if you can figure out a way to infuse the pith with some type of acrylic polymer resin like the cool mallets from Blue Spruce or epoxy?

- ElChe

Yeah if I were making a business of turning mallets but this is a one off favor. It would be cool. Once upon a time I would have tried it just for the learning experience and to satisfy my curiosity but these days I have enough stuff to do. BTW, I’m pretty sure they use a vacuum chamber to pull that resin, I read up on a few years ago.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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ElChe

630 posts in 802 days


#10 posted 01-14-2015 06:01 AM

Put it in a pressure cooker along with a roast. Now that would be a meaty mallet. :)

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2437 days


#11 posted 01-14-2015 08:50 AM

Get you a long auger bit and drill out the pith.
Then rough turn it; a little over size.
Dry it in the microwave.
Having the pith removed should help the drying process and might balance the rate of shrinkage between the inside and outside. Don’t know this, just thinking.
When dry, then fill, dowel, load with shot , or whatever before finish turning.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1886 posts in 1601 days


#12 posted 01-14-2015 02:16 PM

Green wood covers a large and varying amount of moisture content. Depending upon MC could have water flying off the wood while turning or feeling slightly damp to not noticing anything damp or wet.

Without seeing picture of end grain would be more concerned with MC than pith right now due to weather & temperature swings seeing here in NC! Your piece of Iron wood not losing much water weight this week. I never worry about pith in wood less than 4 or 5 inches in diameter.

Yes, better to let your pieces of wood hang out for a month or two getting acclimatized. Since already discussed cracking and splitting with owner of the wood would just turn him a single piece mallet and a two piece mallet and call it quits. Micro waving or other forced drying methods not a great idea but if into busy work try it!.

-- Bill

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Rick M

7929 posts in 1846 days


#13 posted 01-14-2015 03:48 PM


... just turn him a single piece mallet and a two piece mallet…

- Wildwood

That’s what I proposed last night and he agreed. I’ll turn a one piece now and prepare a mallet head for later. That way he has a mallet to use but I can make a back up mallet next fall.

Thanks everyone, the feedback helped.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Wildwood

1886 posts in 1601 days


#14 posted 01-15-2015 12:24 PM

Okay where is the picture already?

-- Bill

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Nubsnstubs

826 posts in 1196 days


#15 posted 01-15-2015 03:26 PM

Rick, do you know where this Ironwood comes from? I ask because all the Ironwood I’ve ever seen the pith has cracks in it while growing and before the wood is cut. I do have a bow stave I got from someone in the east that’s labeled Ironwood, but looks nothing like the stuff growing in the desert southwest…. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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