A trio of hickory mallets made from leftover drawer fronts

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Project by JJohnston posted 04-19-2010 01:31 AM 2549 views 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my entry for the Nothing New Except the Glue contest.

When my parents had new hickory cabinets put in their kitchen recently, two of the drawers were the wrong size and had to be rebuilt; the cabinet shop just left the wrong ones there instead of taking them back. My parents kept the hardware, and I took the wood. I’d never handled hickory before; if you haven’t used it, give it a shot. Having worked mostly with construction-grade pine and a little red oak, I was blown away by its combination of strength, hardness and elasticity. Doing the “circus strong man bend”, I could not break a strip about 3/4” by 3/8”. However, it’s hard on tools. I did more sharpening than shaping.

Picture 6 shows what I started with (pay no attention to the plastic sawhorses holding up my workbench!). There was a little twist in the wider one, and after I got it jointed and planed flat, and took the narrow one down to the same thickness, they were 0.685” x 5 1/8” x 28” and 0.685” x 7 1/2” x 28”. That’s 0.68 and 0.99896 bd ft – less than 1 each. :D

The big one has a head 4 layers wide and a handle 2 layers wide. I cut the top of the handle into a 2-degree (each side) tenon and cut the core pieces of the head with a miter saw (pic 2). I took off the corners of the handle with a bandsaw, then used a chisel, and a belt sander when my hands got tired, to shape it into the oval (pic 3). I got to the final shape by cutting a sander belt into a 3×24 strip and doing a “shoe shine” motion. To get the line on the roughed-out blank, I put it end to end with the handle of a framing hammer and traced around it.

Picture 4 shows the head fresh out of the clamps.

About the time I realized how ludicrously big the first one was going to be, I also realized I had a lot of wood left for another one. The middle one is 3 layers wide with a handle 1 layer wide. Again, I cut the handle into a 2-degree tenon and used a bandsaw and the shoe shine to shape the rest. This one went together so much faster than the big one I didn’t stop to take pictures.

Even after #2 I had enough left for a small one. It’s also made up with 3 & 1, with the head narrowed after glueup to around 2” square. I didn’t do the dovetail tenon on this one, figuring it’s for light duty tapping. Picture 5 shows the glueup. The smaller the head, the more critical the alignment. This one is clamped in all 3 axes. I left the handle mostly rectangular, just using a trim router to put a little roundover on the corners.

Finish is BLO. Thanks for looking.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

4 comments so far

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4278 days

#1 posted 04-19-2010 05:40 AM

Hickory has been the choice for tool handles for many years because of its strength.
Fine looking mallets .
I will proudly share the podium with you when WE accept our tee shirts and glue.
You can start writing your acceptance speech now if you want.
I am just saying “TANX”

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View norwood's profile


303 posts in 4351 days

#2 posted 04-19-2010 02:49 PM

those are great mallets the blind dove tail will be a good wedge to prevent the heads from disappearing

-- of all the things Ive lost in life i miss my mind the most

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5581 days

#3 posted 04-19-2010 06:03 PM

Very nice mallets,


-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4397 days

#4 posted 04-21-2010 01:47 AM

looks great
good work


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