View Full Version : Wood Mallet

michael roughan
11-30-2014, 11:54 AM
There are some great threads already on this forum regarding the debate between round head and square head mallets. However since I already have a round head mallet, I would like to make a flat head to compliment my round head. However should I orient the grain so I am striking the end grain?

It appears that others go out of their way to make the mallet softer than the chisel head so while I'd normally think to orient the flat head so I am striking the end grain, would the mallet have more give if I oriented the growth rings perpendicular to the striking surface?
Perhaps that is one reason some like the round mallets?

Of course the hardness of the mallet makes a difference as well. I got some reject 8/4 African Mahogany for the head and 4/4 hickory for the handle at Highland Hardwoods discount bin so my thought is to make one with this combination but I plan to make more once I've trialed the first one.

(For those of you who are tracking the world economy, while the price of oil is going down the price of black walnut is escalating)

michael roughan
12-08-2014, 8:49 PM
OK so I made the mallet head with the faces end grain, primarily because the mahogany, while very dense, has some small radial checks so I figured the wood was stronger striking perpendicular to the checks.

Here is a picture of the Mallet.301819 By the way I used the great plans that were in one of the earlier threads and enjoyed using the metric dimensions, so much more rationale than imperial dimensions. However, one issue with using unfamiliar metrics is the 20 cm handle width turned out to be a little slight for my liking. I guess the next time I have a spare 30 minutes, I'll make a new mallet with a fatter handle. That'll be sometime in 2015.

Pat Barry
12-11-2014, 8:05 PM
Nice mallet. About your comment on the end grain faces, it seems to me that would be the preferred orientation. Maybe not?? 20mm (cm??) is a bit small for the handle though. I would go 35mm by 25mm oval shape and flair the end a bit so it is easier to grip. Maybe in 2015.

Mark AJ Allen
12-12-2014, 11:48 AM
I'm going to hijack your thread a little; it's part of my recent obscession in mallet making. Specifically, the factors that go into make a really good mallet.

I've not really probed the internet community on this because for the most part, most of the face to face conversations I have with people give me the impression I'm overthinking the 'mallet problem' and making mountains from molehills.

My focus on this is due to getting a sore arm pounding out mortises on my bench. I found the striking height and position of my hand/wrist/arm was causing me a lot of pain; At the point where the mallet strikes the chisel, my wrist is at it's farthest bending angle and my elbow is almost raised to shoulder height. It didn't seem to be a natural position for using a mallet. I didn't really want to rethink a new bench arrangement to solve the problem so I started thinking about how mallet geometry affects biomechanics for certain activities. Certainly a mallet could be designed for a more natural, healthy body position. This started me down the path of building.

Is anyone familiar with mallets with specific characteristics available on the market designed for specific tasks or is this too niche? It happens for hammers, so I'm surprised it's not as prevalent for mallets. I know we have cylindrical carving vs. square 'smashy' mallets, but beyond that, I haven't found deeper differentiations.

Until I do, I'm going to continue to play around, make mallets and see what 'feels good' to use for different tasks.

michael roughan
12-12-2014, 3:37 PM
Mark, I don't have an answer for you but do want to expand the dialogue regarding mallet design. For the orientation, using the mallet on the end grain just seems natural. As I mentioned I used a very dense African Mahogany on the head and hickory on the handle. I'm curious if Hickory is commonly used for it's strength or if it gives when the mallet is striking the chisel thus relieving strain on the wrist?

Mark AJ Allen
12-12-2014, 8:17 PM
I agree with the endgrain ... it's harder to compress the wood fibers in that direction so it's best for the mallet face.

I also think that a dense hardwood will suffice; I'm not sure there is much gain for mass and density going to exotics, though there are probably more choices for wood.

As for handles, It's my understanding that hickory and ash will be choice woods; I believe hickory is a common wood used for handles on axes so it must be good enough for mallets.