Mallets for the 2018 Mallet Swap

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Project by Lazyman posted 07-19-2018 04:00 PM 1418 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My recipient for this years Hammer and Mallet Swap was LJ Poohbah (Neil). After doing some research, I decided to follow Rob Cosman’s philosophy which is that sharp tools don’t require huge mallets so I made a couple (one to keep) smallish round dovetail/carvers mallets out of Live Oak. I used live oak because I discovered in my research that LO is one of the hardest native species and I had some well seasoned and dry LO from a large tree branch pruned from my yard. The heads and handles are turned separately on the lathe and then glued together. The handles were ebonized with an iron and vinegar solution. Following Rob Cosman’s design, I added 2 stainless screws to ensure that the heads stay in place through use. The bark inclusion on one of them was stabilized with CA as the gaps were too small to be able get any epoxy into it.

That was way too easy so next I made the red handled mallet, also out of live oak. The head was made from a small bowl blank I had cut round on the bandsaw but never turned because it is so dang hard. The shape of the head evolved sort of organically as I cut it out of the blank. I decided to retain the curved faces from the original bowl blank. The handle was turned on the lathe using a 3-axis approach to achieve a comfortable shape and it was was dyed with aniline dyes. I was shooting for sort of flame effect but it just turned out looking like I bled on it. After finishing, I decided it might be a little small for a grown man’s hand and since I didn’t know if Neil has any kids, I decide to make a larger one. The head of the larger mallet was also made from a LO bowl blank that had broken off the lathe after a really nasty catch. The handle is made from red mulberry found on someone’s trash pile a while back. It has a beautiful yellow color that will age to a chocolate brown as is it ages. The handle was likewise turned with a 3-axis approach on the lathe. As I was shaping the top of the head of this mallet on the bandsaw I cut some grooves to make it easier and I liked the grooves so much I decided to make them deeper and fill with brass powder and epoxy to embellish the look.

As usual with these swaps this swap was really fun. You learn a lot and make some great new friends.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

16 comments so far

View ralbuck's profile


6780 posts in 3554 days

#1 posted 07-19-2018 04:15 PM

Very pretty mallets— just to pretty to beat up!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


8278 posts in 2675 days

#2 posted 07-19-2018 04:28 PM

Thanks ralbuck. Hopefully the live oak can take it. I discovered in my research that live oak is what the warship Old Ironside was made of. Supposedly cannonballs would bounce off of it.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3668 days

#3 posted 07-19-2018 04:30 PM

I really like the style of those mallets. Neat trick with the screws.

-- Rick M,

View EarlS's profile


4818 posts in 3636 days

#4 posted 07-19-2018 05:35 PM

Your mallets are really earthy and organic with the atypical heads. Nice touch on ebonizing the handles. I really like the red dyed handle. Wonderful grain on all of them as well. Definitely nailed it.

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

View HokieKen's profile


19910 posts in 2427 days

#5 posted 07-19-2018 06:43 PM

Great work Nathan. I like the shape of the “bowl blank” heads. I really like the red dyed handle and the way it transitions to green and blue at the top. Well done! I also like that you left the bark inclusion. The ebonized handles look great. All-round top notch work.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View GR8HUNTER's profile


9146 posts in 2001 days

#6 posted 07-19-2018 08:05 PM

WOW what a bunch of very nice mallets I like the red handle one best the one with bark next … you have made pooh a happy guy … GRAET JOB :<))

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

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8812 posts in 1870 days

#7 posted 07-19-2018 08:18 PM

Nice work, Nathan!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View jeffswildwood's profile


4952 posts in 3265 days

#8 posted 07-19-2018 08:54 PM

Very nice Nathan! Your attention to detail really shows on these.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


8278 posts in 2675 days

#9 posted 07-19-2018 09:24 PM

Thanks guys. I had a blast making them. The wood sort of told me what to do with them as I shaped them so I can’t take all the credit for their odd shapes. ;-).

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View ToddJB's profile


8805 posts in 3418 days

#10 posted 07-20-2018 06:20 AM

Great job, Nathan. That variety looks like it will cover the majority of wacking tasks

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4155 days

#11 posted 07-20-2018 04:25 PM

These are all very nice mallets. Congratulations!

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View bobasaurus's profile


3743 posts in 4472 days

#12 posted 07-20-2018 10:08 PM

Nice job, that’s a good assortment there.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View duckmilk's profile


4872 posts in 2613 days

#13 posted 07-20-2018 11:22 PM

You did lots of different designs Nathan and every one is really nice. Great job!

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

View mikeacg's profile


2050 posts in 2346 days

#14 posted 07-21-2018 12:32 PM


If you keep overachieving like this, we’re going to have to change your name…

Nice combination of different styles and wood!

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View builtinbkyn's profile


3031 posts in 2229 days

#15 posted 07-21-2018 02:55 PM

Great work Nathan. Nice assortment of mallets. Love the ebonized handles.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

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