Making Some Mallets
#11
  Re: (...)
I've had some pecan wood drying in my attic for a year now, and I decided it was time to bring it down and make some mallets with it. I had cut out a 3"X4" thick piece just for the heads, plus a nice 1" piece for the handles. Both have a little spalting in them, but the wood is still perfectly sound.




I do like Roy Underhill's approach to making a joiner's mallet, and my method is almost identical. I'll point out a couple differences in a moment.

After squaring up my stock, I rough-cut the parts out on the bandsaw.





Unlike Roy, I like a rounded top to my mallet heads. If the top of the head is flat, the top edge is an acute angle, which is naturally weak. Rounding the top off is an extra step in the process, but it seems to keep the top edge of the mallet face from splitting out. Ideally, that top edge should be a 90* angle, or maybe even an obtuse angle.

I sketched the curve freehand, cut it out on the bandsaw, and then smoothed the surface with a smoothing plane. I start planing at about the last half inch of the surface, then work my way back slowly taking short strokes. With care, the result is a nicely rounded surface.





The other difference is that the handles are tapered all the way down. This makes it easy to sneak up on a tight, accurate fit. Cut the mortise just a little small, and plane the handle down until it fits where you want it.


Laying out the mortise is a little tricky. It's best to use the handle itself as a template for the angle.





I mark the width of the mortise on the bottom, then lay the handle across the head. I measure from both ends to make sure the handle is centered, then trace my layout lines. It's a little precarious, but it does work.





The result is a slightly angled mortise.

Then it's time to actually cut the mortise. If you're using good, tough wood, it's not going to be terribly easy any way you cut it.





Roy's advice is spot-on. Use a brace and bit (I used a 15/16") to bore out the center of the mortise.





Bore in from both sides. It's a lot easier than trying to turn a big bit in a 3" deep hole.

Then it's just a matter of squaring up the mortises. I took small bites with my 1" chisel, but I did also resort to my 1/2" chisel for the final clean-up. The 1/2" is much easier to drive into tough wood than is the 1". You want the ends of the mortise straight and clean--no under-cutting. The sides, however, can be undercut a little to allow the handle to pass in cleanly. You want it wedged up against the end grain on both ends of the mortise. Once the mortise is squared up, the handle (as I said) can be planed to an exact fit.





Oh, and I should mention the dimensions. These are fairly big mallets. The striking faces are 3" square. The heads themselves are somewhere between 3 1/4" and 3 1/2" tall. The heads of the two big ones are about 5" long at the bottom, and the smaller one is about 4". The handles were cut at 15" long, but once they are nicely fitted, I will trim them back to 14", leaving about 1"-1 1/2" sticking out of the top.


Once the third handle is fitted, I'll shape the handles a bit, break all the sharp edges, and soak the heads in some oil to give them a bit more heft. Then we'll see about where each one will be headed.
Steve S.
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Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

Tutorials and Build-Alongs at The Literary Workshop
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#12
  Re: Making Some Mallets by Bibliophile 13 (I've had some pecan ...)
Great tutorial. The mallets look nice too. You must have a never ending supply of that spalted pecan!

Jonathan


I only regret the tools I didn't buy!

“Think about it: Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge
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#13
  Re: Making Some Mallets by Bibliophile 13 (I've had some pecan ...)
I just had the opportunity to watch that episode of Roy's this afternoon off my TIVO. It reminded me that I have a few large pieces of hornbeam that I got from WALNUTS here in the SnS a few years ago.

I like your departures from Roy's plan. I think I'll give them a go. Why did you forego the chamfered edges, though? I thought that would assist in preventing splitting or chipping also. Have you not that problem?

Thanks!
" The founding fathers weren't trying to protect citizens' rights to have an interesting hobby." I Learn Each Day 1/18/13

http://www.RUSTHUNTER.com
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#14
  Re: Making Some Mallets by Bibliophile 13 (I've had some pecan ...)
Thanks for the timely tutorial - LOML appears to have "borrowed" my joiner's mallet for gardening duty.

On this side of the ocean beech appears to be the traditional wood of choice, although I'd guess that's because it's cheap and readily available rather than being ideally suited. I imagine something resistant to splitting is preferred.

Not for the first time, I'm somewhat envious of the variety of woods available on your side of the ocean.
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#15
  Re: Making Some Mallets by Bibliophile 13 (I've had some pecan ...)
Steve great looking Mallets and tutorial, great job, thanks for sharing. I haven't seen Roy's Mallet build so that was great, for whatever reason that don't air Roy here on PBS.

Steve
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#16
  Re: Re: Making Some Mallets by Window Guy (Steve great looking ...)
Big Ash Mallet episode:

http://video.pbs.org/video/2365021538/
~ Chris
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#17
  Re: Re: Making Some Mallets by Gregory of Sherwood Forest (I just had the oppor...)
Oh, the edges will all get relieved, especially around the faces. Otherwise, yes, the edges will relieve themselves as you use the mallet.



For joiner's mallets, just about any tough hardwood is suitable: hickory, pecan, ash, white oak, beech, elm, hard maple, osage orange... the list goes on and on. You just don't want anything that's very easy to split. (I would hesitate to use black walnut or mesquite, for example.) And when the mallet does finally give up the ghost, it takes only an hour or two to make another one.
Steve S.
------------------------------------------------------
Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

Tutorials and Build-Alongs at The Literary Workshop
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#18
  Re: Re: Making Some Mallets by Bibliophile 13 (Oh, the edges will a...)
Terrific way to make them, Steve. Thanks!

Al
Blog: Sandal Woods - Fine Woodworking

Frank Klausz, to The Schwarz (WIA 2010): "...If YOU guys keep doing what you’re doing, this thing is not gonna die..."
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#19
  Re: Making Some Mallets by Bibliophile 13 (I've had some pecan ...)
Thanks great advice and info. I also just watched him making mallets. Loved his threesome! Also started me looking for a brace with huge throw amongst my pile. The brace he used is the largest I had seen. Ever

I also marveled at his froe...another item I do not see much...
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#20
  Re: Re: Making Some Mallets by Bibliophile 13 (Oh, the edges will a...)
I still use the one I got from you Steve. It's perfect for use with my mortise chisels.
See ya around,
Dominic
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Don't you love it when you ask someone what time it is and to prove how smart they are, they tell you how to build a watch?
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