Mallet / Blind Fox Wedged Tenon

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Project by Don posted 07-16-2007 02:24 AM 9022 views 5 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been thinking about my entry into the Summer 2000 Competition. I find the Joinery Category particularly challenging.

Specifically, the challenge of making something ”without glues, metal nails, screws or other mechanical fasteners” got my interest.

At first, I thought that I would make a small project, dry fit the joinery, photograph and enter it, then glue it up later. But no, this wouldn’t be in the spirit of the competition.

To my way of thinking, the real challenge incorporated in the rules is to make something entirely without glue or mechanical fasteners of any sort. For my interpretation, this means no aspect of the project should have any hint of joinery that violates this restriction. To simply have one joint that met the rules and the rest that didn’t, seemed to be playing loose with the interpretation.

The handle joinery is known as a Blind Fox-Wedged Tenon.

In this case, the turned tenon has one slot into which a wedge is fit prior to driving the handle home into the head of the mallet. When driven home, the wedge is forced between the shoulders of the tenon jambing them against the walls of the mortise. Absolutely no glue was used, or is required. The handle is completely wedged in place and impossible to remove or revolve.

There is no question, this project meets my strict interpretation of the rules. My conscience is clear! However, I’m not entering this project. Rather, I’ve decided to enter a small box with the same strict adherence to the rules.

[The third picture is simply for interest – although the Bow Saw is also constructed without glue or screws, it could possibly be argued that the string and saw blade were “mechanical fasteners”, so I decided to enter the Mallet instead.]

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

15 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35293 posts in 5732 days

#1 posted 07-16-2007 03:03 AM


I’d believe that they both fits the rules. The blade is not what is holding the thing together. The blade is the desired result. And I don’t think of string as a mechanical fastener.

No more than a wedge being an illegal fastener.

Good luck, I’m still in the construction phase.

You might want to change your title to 2007 entry.


-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5568 days

#2 posted 07-16-2007 03:31 AM

I’m in the process of making a Hickory Mission Style Bed. The slats are mortise and tenon and the tenons are held in place with dowels. No glue, no nails. But if i attach the hardware that fastens the sides to the ends, does that disqualify me?

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5508 days

#3 posted 07-16-2007 03:35 AM

I don’t think Martin intends to get picky about the rules, in the end, it’s up to the voters to decide what meets the rules and what doesn’t by how they vote.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5658 days

#4 posted 07-16-2007 04:11 AM

good entry! didn’t expect to see a mallet show up in the wood joinery competition, very nice.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5658 days

#5 posted 07-16-2007 04:14 AM

Oh, and Obi… if the hardware wasn’t wood – and it holds the sides to the ends, then I’d consider it a no-no. – but I’m sure – given enough time and thought – there is a way to make it all work so that only wood is what’s holding the bed together.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 5537 days

#6 posted 07-16-2007 12:30 PM

Hi Don;
—-’very good’ in-deed!!!

I have all-ways since your coming here Don, known and felt that you are a man of ‘integrity’, a hard word for some to swallow in today’s society, but you have in my estimation full-filled the requirements quite successfully as seen by your following statement! ”There is no question, this project meets my strict interpretation of the rules. My conscience is clear!

I also agree where you have stated; ”To simply have one joint that met the rules and the rest that didn’t, seemed to be playing loose with the interpretation.” The rules as pertaining to at ‘least one joint’ were so that one would have to make a project with ‘wood joinery’....not a project with no-joints. I mean if you are entering in ‘wood joinery’ and your project has no ‘joinery’, what have you proved? And then comes the clarification for at least ‘one joint’ never entered my mind that a lumberjock would do just one ‘wood joint’ and the rest of the wood project would be with glues and mechanical fasteners. To my understanding of the rules for entering in ‘Wood Joinery’, we are to have one or all joints with no glues or mechanical fasteners….’anywhere’ used in the construction of the project. I myself often do not like rules and so I call myself an artist and create art by how I want to interpret the rules of the wood, but then when I also enter into a contest, I am responsible for holding myself to and by the rules of that contest. I do feel that if I judge myself rightly first, then other’s will also judge me rightly as I have judged myself….

I really like what you have entered here and then you went and topped it off by doing a Blind Fox Wedged Tenon, which is no-small feat, I also noticed you used tung oil….great finish! What a good show of ‘wood art’ coming from the land of oz!

Thank you Don; for sharing and entering this project with us and in the category of ‘Wood Joinery’.

-- --frank, NH,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5492 days

#7 posted 07-16-2007 02:03 PM

and the rules get clearer and muddier :)

Fascinating joint, Don.

And the skill to make it work – -yah, tons of patience required.
I liked the mallet before, but now—yah, a whole new level of appreciation

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5368 days

#8 posted 07-16-2007 07:41 PM

Really neat Don! I’m struggling with the challenge too. I’m still in the, uhhhhh-stage! Living within the letter of the rules is one thing…living within the intent of them is another. I like to surround myself with the “intent” people. Too many think the definition of right and wrong depends on what they can get away with. You make everyone bring their “A,” game!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1823 posts in 5417 days

#9 posted 07-16-2007 08:22 PM

Great work Don and very true to the competition. I hope the competition doesn’t get too many rule benders. Ditto on what Mot said….unfortunately black and white becomes grey for too many people. Kind of like the days when building a soap box racer as a cub scout. My dad would only show me how to use the tools, he wouldn’t help with designing or building of the car at all. I was really mad when I saw some of the entries that had obviously been built by some of the kids Father’s (despite the rules) ended up winning the competition. When I complained to my Father he asked me if I thought any of those kids had learned anything while their Dad built the car. When I said no he asked who I thought the real winners were. He was a pretty smart guy. The following year I won the competition even against the stacked odds of foolish fathers. I was a persistant bugger even then. I built 6 prototypes before building the fastest one because I was determined that the cheaters wouldn’t win again.

Obi- Put the bed in the garden….:) Actually a draw-bored mortice and tenon would hold the sides to the end pretty nicely and look good to boot. Then if you put it in the garden you could enter it in both.

-- Bob

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5508 days

#10 posted 07-17-2007 01:03 AM

Thanks for the affirmation, Mates, What a fine group of men & women you are!

Bob, your father was so right. What an amazing heritage wise honest parents leave their children.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View jaspr's profile


38 posts in 5304 days

#11 posted 07-19-2007 05:58 AM

Don – I like your mallet a lot.

-- Claire

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 5419 days

#12 posted 07-19-2007 01:10 PM

I know its my imagination but the ends of the bow saw that hold the blade look like hands.

Would your joint be stronger if the lower inside of the mortise was flared out so the handle shaft could expand a little more inside the mallet?


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5508 days

#13 posted 07-19-2007 02:11 PM

SD, it probably would. Next time. I’ll try that. It should be any harder to do.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View palaswood's profile


1061 posts in 3082 days

#14 posted 04-30-2014 06:03 PM

Gawjus! Simply Gawjus! What woods are those? Im guessing yellowheart and purpleheart.

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5508 days

#15 posted 04-30-2014 09:42 PM

Joseph, the handle is my favorite wood, Huon Pine from Tasmania, and the mallet head is Australian Redgum.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

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