What different chisel hammers/mallets do you use?

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Forum topic by redSLED posted 03-05-2015 08:11 PM 2957 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1316 days

03-05-2015 08:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mallet hammer chisel chiseling diy what mallet mallet or hammer

Yes, I have searched and read the many “what mallet do you use” and DIY mallet threads on LJ, including the mother-of-all mallet threads – “Mallets of your dreams” ( However, I have noticed that the subject of using WHAT HAMMERING TOOL for WHAT KIND OF WOOD CHISELING is generally not addressed within any single thread. For example, many showcase their beautifully made hardwood mallet but often don’t say if they use it for dovetailing or mortising. Likewise, many fine woodworkers here on LJ have indicated they love to use a light-medium weight brass head hammer for dovetail chiseling, but don’t say what type of hammer/mallet they prefer for regular bench chiseling or wood carving. I also noticed there is a small following of dead blow mallet users (for chiseling) here on LJ and on other woodworking forums. Clearly, one kind of hammer/mallet cannot be best for all types of wood chiseling.

On a side note, I am especially intrigued with differently designed custom-made hammers and mallets, of which there are hundreds on LJ!

So this is more-or-less a forum poll type of question. For the sake of newbie woodworkers searching for more chiseling knowledge, and for my curiosity:

What type of hammer/mallet do you prefer to use when:
A. Using bench chisels
B. Chiseling dovetails
C. Chiseling (“chopping”) mortises
D. Wood carving

As always, attached pictures are welcome!

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

26 replies so far

View JayT's profile


4687 posts in 1635 days

#1 posted 03-05-2015 08:17 PM

I use two different hammers/mallets for chisel work. For dovetails and anything precision I use a brass hammer and usually choke up to right next to the head.

For heavier work like chopping mortices, I use a wooden mallet.

Don’t do any carving at the present time.

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

View Hammerthumb's profile


2514 posts in 1399 days

#2 posted 03-05-2015 09:28 PM

Dang JayT. Looking at your bench, I did a doubletake. Looks like all the tools I use down to the brand.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View Mykos's profile


102 posts in 1218 days

#3 posted 03-05-2015 09:41 PM

The Veritas cabinetmaker’s mallet. The one with the brass head with wooden inserts. I use it for everything. Holdfasts, chisel driving, assembling joints etc… One face is used for the first two tasks, and the other kept “nice” for the third.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1316 days

#4 posted 03-05-2015 09:41 PM

Thanks, JayT. I was considering going that route for dovetailing and fine work – a brass hammer, perhaps with a 2/3 length custom handle?

A less expensive second choice for the same chiseling I was considering would be a used medium ball pein steel hammer with some leather or other material attached to the striking face (to lessen damage to your chisels) although I haven’t read yet about anyone doing that.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7732 posts in 1804 days

#5 posted 03-05-2015 09:46 PM

I tend to use the closest mallet. Barring that, I usually grab my ipe joiner’s mallet (around 18oz) although I’m probably going to make a heavier one for chopping. Most of my chiseling is regular bench work.


View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1316 days

#6 posted 03-05-2015 10:10 PM

Thanks, Mykos, regarding your preferred only 1 (!) mallet choice. The Veritas Cabinetmaker’s Mallet:,41504

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View jusfine's profile


2405 posts in 2350 days

#7 posted 03-05-2015 10:21 PM

The Veritas mallet is one of my favorites too to use with my mortise chisels! Lee Valley photo of course.

I also bought these little guys for use with my smaller Japanese fine chisels. Cheapest place I found to buy good Japanese chisels and hammers was from Germany – didn’t make any sense to me either.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4408 posts in 3384 days

#8 posted 03-05-2015 11:08 PM

I use a dogwood round mallet. Turned it from a dead dogwood tree from my back yard. Not too heavy, but give me pretty good control.


View Ripthorn's profile


1402 posts in 2409 days

#9 posted 03-06-2015 12:17 AM

I have two wooden mallets, one large and one medium. The large one os my go to for chopping and the medium does everything else.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View CharlieK's profile


463 posts in 3217 days

#10 posted 03-06-2015 01:52 AM

I’ll have whatever she is having!

-- Adjustable Height Workbench Plans

View CharlieK's profile


463 posts in 3217 days

#11 posted 03-06-2015 01:54 AM

Seriously, I use a round wooden carver’s mallet for all types of chisels. I have a small round brass mallet, but somehow I never really got used to it.


-- Adjustable Height Workbench Plans

View Texcaster's profile


1103 posts in 1098 days

#12 posted 03-06-2015 11:18 PM

I’ve been told this lump of timber is a form used by sheet metal workers to shape small parts. The tin is placed on the form and beaten with a hammer to shape. At any rate it is a fine mallet for light work, heavy, hard, balanced and a good striking angle. By the wear you can see I use both the round and flat faces.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Carvingbarn's profile


18 posts in 604 days

#13 posted 03-07-2015 12:01 AM

I use a 16oz and a 30oz poly mallet. For small detail work a have a 8oz brass malletRandy

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1316 days

#14 posted 04-01-2015 03:37 AM

Anyone like using the rawhide type of mallet as well? And for what exactly?

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View JohnChung's profile


367 posts in 1498 days

#15 posted 04-01-2015 04:14 AM

It is for knocking furniture together. Does not damage the surface. Not for chisel work.

showing 1 through 15 of 26 replies

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