Making My Mallet – Last One

DSC_0130To finish off the corners of the mallet I created an all-around chamfer with the spokeshave. I also used a flat file to crispen up some more awkward grain as needed. DSC_0085DSC_0087You could use a flat file for all of this if you want to or you don’t have a spokeshave. The spokeshave and file are easier to work the rounded parts of the head. If you don’t have either, wrap sandpaper around a flat stick and make your own abrasive file.

DSC_0091On the inside corners nearest the handle, the original mallet had a corner scallop, not dissimilar to what we call a stopped chamfer of sorts, only short. I drew this on with a pencil to guide me as shown.

DSC_0099If you have a spokeshave you can scallop the whole thing with shallow cuts from each extreme toward the centre or mid section.

 

 

DSC_0093DSC_0095On the other hand, you can make a saw cut in the centre, across the corner, and then chisel in from each end toward the mid section. This works well and eliminates the need for the spokeshave. Any unevenness can be sanded with a stick wrapped again with sandpaper as before.

That concludes the shaping of the mallet head; now we start on the shaft itself.

Fitting the shaft

The shaft needs to fit to the hole on both inside and outside faces of the head so that there is no gap. A gap will lead to slop and the head will not feel solid in use and with strikes. Fit by planing as needed, until the gap is closed.

Strike the wide end of the shaft with the hammer until it seats fully into the mortise. The wood will compress and tighten in the hole, but can be loosened again by tapping the other end to remove the shaft.

DSC_0099

 

 

 

 

Once the handle is fitted, it’s time to shape the shaft. I rounded both ends to match the original. The shape is as shown. You can use anything to round the narrow end of the shaft.DSC_0039 I tried both a radius from the Veritas apron plane and also a tea mug. DSC_0044Both worked fine. At the wider end, I freehanded the shape I wanted.

 

 

 

DSC_0112DSC_0085 2DSC_0083 DSC_0093 2 DSC_0097I cut both ends with a coping saw and refined the cut with a 1” wide chisel. I then planed the shape and refined the final shape with the file and finished by removing the hard corners.

 

 

DSC_0120 DSC_0121I find the shaft works better for me with the corners chamfered. I marked the same distance to all of the corners, on each adjacent face. I made certain the distance was the same on all four corners and measured 1” from the inside of the head end to the start of the chamfer and 2” from the opposite end.

 

 

DSC_0123I found it best to use the spokeshave for the entire scallop, working from both ends, downhill into the cove to form the scallop.

 

 

DSC_0125Scallop to suit your hand but take care not to remove too much. Better try it in stages as whatever the final shape you end up with is final.

I applied a paste wax to the overall mallet. It needs nothing really to protect it or enrich the wood to make it last longer. All finishes such as boiled linseed oil (BLO) were to seal the wood and keep it clean, that’s all.

DSC_0129Here is my finished mallet.

5 Comments

  1. Tico Vogt on 16 April 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Thanks for the series, Paul. It’s a beautiful tool. I’m looking forward to making one with some Elm blocks that have been sitting around for twenty years. It’s a perfect project for them.



  2. chris on 17 April 2013 at 2:25 am

    Hi Paul, Thanks for the series. I’m curious, what do you typically use a wooden mallet like this for?



    • Paul Sellers on 17 April 2013 at 2:55 am

      You probably know that I like the smaller panel beating hammers for a chisel hammer, but I still like the traditional mallet. I have yet to find a commercially made mallet made from the right wood with the right weight because what is typically being sold is beech, which is a good wood for this but the weights are always too light and the heads are always to narrow. They are usually to square and angular too, and that makes them awkward to use. I use them for typical mallet and chisel work such as mortising and other chopping work.



  3. Paul Moldovanos on 23 April 2013 at 10:52 am

    How does the handle stay tight in the head? Apart from the taper and glue, would it not be advisable to wedge the handle from the top?



    • Paul Sellers on 23 April 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Hello Paul, Long time no hear. How are you. There is no glue on the handle inside the head ever. They never come loose at that taper as long as the wedge matches the taper in the mortise. The natural flinging action keeps it tight. In fifty years of using mallets I have never known a head come loose.