A mallet is a woodworker’s must-have tool. Long before Thor, woodworkers have been using this particular hammer. Mallets are usually square-headed. Its large head is made of dense hardwood. It’s for that reason that it’s able to carry out heavy work without damaging the object that’s being struck.
Mallets are used a lot in woodworking. It’s the best tool for knocking pieces of wood together and at the same time, keeping them intact. They’re also used to dismantle joints and to drive a chisel against the grain.
There are various types of mallets. In fact, there’s even a kind of mallet that’s used to soften meat. While mallets are used in different ways, their sole purpose is to transmit minimal force onto the struck surface.
A mallet is more than just a woodworker’s basic tool. It’s also an awesome woodworking project to embark on. Here’s how you can create your very own woodworking mallet.
A woodworker can never have enough mallets. Sure, you can always buy one but making your own personalized version of it can save you some bucks. If that’s not enough, it can provide you a couple of bragging rights since you made it yourself.
The basic materials you will need are hardwoods (maple and oak), wood glue, sand, and leather. Of course, you will also be needing a tenoning jig and some power tools, like a table saw.
The video (which can be found at the end of this article) shows exactly the kind of woodworking mallet you can create for yourself.
“It’s all made of hardwoods and the top is held together with this tenoning and wedge system and I put leather on each side to cushion blows. I picked up this method of construction from Woodsmith Magazine a long time ago. It’s a lot simpler than it looks and you really don’t need any special tools.”
Making The Head Of The Mallet
For your DIY mallet, start with the head part. Needless to say, this is the most important part of the mallet. It’s where all the force takes place.
The video starts off by showing how to make the core of the mallet head.
“For the core of the head, I’m going to use a piece of three-quarter inched maple. I’ve made mine about two and a half inches wide and I’ve cut it about twelve inches long but I’m only going to use about two and a half inches on each side. The reason why I’ve got it longer is just so I have something to hold on to. I’m drilling 1 ½-inched holes on each side. Now, I’m going to cut out both of these pieces on my table saw but I want them cut at a slight angle. So, I’ve set up my miter gauge to about a two-degree angle.”
The next step is critical since it puts together the head of the mallet.
“You see how these have a slight wedge. So, what I need to do now is just glue these two pieces onto one of the longer pieces. Make sure that you put these in the right way so that you have that wedge.”
There’s a good reason why there’s a wedge. That’s where the handle will go later.
“I’m not gluing this top piece on but I’m going to use it to clamp this together. To give the head of the mallet some weight, I usually fill these holes with those little lead fishing sinkers. But I thought I’d try to save some money this time and I’m just going to fill it with sand.”
Now that the mallet head is put together, it’s ready for some smoothing.
“There’s the mallet head all glued together. Now I can start to shape it round it over a little bit and to start with, I’ve just tipped my table saw blade at about 15-degree angle and I’ll chop off the edges.”
Making The Handle
For the handle part, two pieces of oak wood were glued together. These two pieces were made to be a lot wider than the hole or the wedge in the head of the mallet. As previously mentioned, there’s a good reason for that and here it is.
“I wanted it to be a little bigger than this hole, about an eighth of an inch all the way around it, just so that I have room for a shoulder around the tenon.”
This is the part where you will be needing the tenoning jig and the video also shares how that’s made.
“And here is my tenoning jig. I’ve got two 2x 4 that I’ve just screwed together and it’ll set down on top of my rip fence.”
From there, it’s easy to clamp everything together. To determine the right fit, shallow passes were made.
“So now that I’ve got that fit, I know that my fence is set at the right distance. I could raise the blade up to the height of the mallet head.”
That gives a precise measurement for the handle, making it a perfect fit for the mallet head. The tenoning system was used to attach the handle to the mallet head.
With these simple steps, you can make your very own woodworking mallet.