A Mallet from a Tree

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Blog entry by Tom posted 03-21-2020 11:41 PM 1367 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently had a dying oak tree taken down at my home. It was probably 30 or 40 years old, so pretty good size. I had it cut into a couple big logs (to be milled later) and firewood. Before the contractor ground the stump, he cut off a slab down to ground level. I cut some chunks from the slab for a mallet thinking that the wood may be pretty tough from the bottom of the tree. I don’t really know if this is true though.

I shaped one of the chunks into an oversized block and set it to dry on some heating pipes. The wood was very wet and green. After a week or two, I laid out for the mortise and bored a 1” hole down the middle. Then I planed the angle on the ends and set it to dry again for a time. After a couple more weeks, it was considerably drier with only a few surface checks on the ends. So I went ahead and chopped the mortise with a 1” chisel, being careful to follow the angle of the layout. The wood seemed pretty tough, but it cut well and resulted in a nice mortise. Then I set ii to dry again for a while.

For the handle, I used a seasoned piece of straight grained oak from the firewood pile. I split it out and shaped it with the axe and jack plane. It was a bit greener than I had thought so I set it to dry with the head piece.

Next I fitted the handle thickness to match the mortise, and laid out the shape using an octagonal hammer handle that I like. I cut it out on the bandsaw and it fit reasonably well as a starting point.

I continued fitting and shaping the handle with the plane, spokeshave and scraper until I had a nice fit and feel.

Finally, I shaped the head with the plane, spokeshave and chisel. The top and the sides are curved and the bottom edge has a curved chamfer cut into it. The ends of the mortise on top are relieved with the chisel to avoid it breaking out over time. All of the corners are relieved with the spokeshave.

The finished mallet feels very nicely weighted and balanced. I will wait to add finish to it and let it continue to dry for a while. I will probably rub it with boiled linseed oil. I will periodically check the fit on the handle. Hopefully, it will remain a nice fit. I think it will be a nice addition to my tools. I started with a plastic faced mallet during my early years and progressed to a purchased wood mallet that was suitable for light joinery. I think this new mallet will be helpful for heavier joinery tasks.

-- Tom

3 comments so far

View BurlyBob's profile


8882 posts in 3352 days

#1 posted 03-22-2020 07:16 AM

You are so darn lucky. I wish I had such a meaningful connection to my mallet. I truly envy you. Mine is much like yours, but I bought all the parts. There’s got to be a profound connection between the source and the you the user.
Cherish it!

View vanislescotty's profile


17 posts in 2606 days

#2 posted 07-03-2020 10:14 PM

Great job on making this mallet. Hoping to tackle making one too some day. I have one made my Narex which is very nice but to have one I’ve made and invested my own efforts in would be even better. My favorite part was seeing your ‘professional’ drying rack with the pieces laid on the shutoff handles leaning up against the pipes. It all works.

View Tom's profile


269 posts in 979 days

#3 posted 07-03-2020 10:24 PM

Scott – Thanks for the kind words. It’s a fun project for sure. The heating pipes worked great for me! Good luck

-- Tom

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