Dice Mallets #2: Heads Up

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 08-31-2018 05:25 PM 2254 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Get a handle on it Part 2 of Dice Mallets series no next part

The heads started out as 2×2x12 (African Blackwood), 2×2x18 (Ebony and Yellowheart) and 3×3x12 (Bloodwood, East Indian Rosewood).

After cleaning off the wax and squaring things up, the pieces were ripped to 1 7/8” squares.

Since the Leigh M&T jig was already set up for the 1/2X1 mortise and tenons all i had to do was mark centers for the mortises that would receive the tenon on the handle. The handle tenons were cut first so hey can be checked for fit without taking the head blank out of the M&T jig. I also left the blanks long to work better with the hold downs on the jig. Short pieces like the heads (5 1/4”) are difficult to keep secure in the jig due to the work area opening.

After each of the mortises was finished, I checked the fit with a couple of the handles. The blank was then flipped so the mortise for the second head could be cut.

The blanks were cut to final length (5 1/4” which is 1 7/8” dice + 1 1/2” handle + 1 7/8” dice”). I also cut the 1/8” wide x 1/4” deep slots for the accent wood to define the edges of the dice.

Center marks for the 3/8” pips were made for the different dice faces. I would recommend 5/16” rather than 3/8” as I had some cracks form between the pips when I put the plugs in. The holes were 3/8” deep but I would suggest that they only need to be 1/4” deep since they are decorative only. I used a set of spacers to index the holes in the corners without having to switch anything around. That way, at least things lined up even if they might be slightly off center. The set up was adjusted to accommodate the center hole. I wrote the number of pips on each face and lined up all of the heads the same way so I wouldn’t mess up and drill out the incorrect number of holes for a face.

The pips were made from dowel stock and drilling out plugs.

After drilling the plugs, the back waste was removed on the bandsaw:

All of the plugs went through the dowel plate to make sure they were round and not over sized.

Plugs and inlay pieces were glued onto the heads.

The walnut head was made using a different approach. Blanks 1 7/8” wide, 5 1/4” and 15/16” thick were made. A dado stack on the table saw was used to make the mortise for the square handle tenon.

The pieces were glued together and the walnut head was completed in the same manner as the other ones.

After sanding things flush and rounding over the edges the heads were prefinished using a coat of laquer sealer, then a coat Seal-A-Cell with 400 grit sanding between coats and then sanding to 2000 grit before applying Behlen’s Deluxing Compound.

The finished handles were attached to the mallets:

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

9 comments so far

View pottz's profile


13709 posts in 1953 days

#1 posted 08-31-2018 05:40 PM

wow a lot of work earl but the results look well worth the effort.i guess from now on well call you the mallet man-lol.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6641 posts in 1551 days

#2 posted 08-31-2018 08:31 PM

Nice work, Earl. The assembly line grinds along.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View EarlS's profile


4208 posts in 3317 days

#3 posted 08-31-2018 09:14 PM

Thankfully they are done sent out and the Tool Swap doesn’t start until tomorrow.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8256 posts in 1682 days

#4 posted 08-31-2018 09:24 PM

they are some very cool looking mallets Earl ….GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View sras's profile


5756 posts in 4098 days

#5 posted 08-31-2018 09:43 PM

Thanks for the blog – it was fun to follow along.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View robscastle's profile


7654 posts in 3173 days

#6 posted 09-01-2018 05:31 AM

I have heard the expression T$%d polishing but Lump hammer polishing, thats something different.
I needed to put my sun glasses on to check out your post.!

Nice job on the mallets kinda conjurs up the expression “Touch my tools and your diceing with death”

-- Regards Rob

View duckmilk's profile


4419 posts in 2294 days

#7 posted 09-03-2018 11:09 PM

That is quite the process you had making those Earl. Really nice setup and execution!

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View HokieKen's profile (online now)


15954 posts in 2108 days

#8 posted 09-04-2018 01:10 PM

Excellent work Earl. Thanks for the write-up! I enjoyed seeing your process and the order of your operations.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View EarlS's profile


4208 posts in 3317 days

#9 posted 09-04-2018 08:52 PM

Rob – the hammer just needs a bit more use. It is still shiny and new from the mallet swap. It was made by KelleyCrafts.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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