Mallets for the 2018 Mallet Swap

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Project by Lazyman posted 07-19-2018 04:00 PM 888 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


6094 posts in 2721 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


3748 posts in 1842 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


12877 posts in 2835 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


2987 posts in 2803 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


10437 posts in 1593 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.

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

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6348 posts in 1167 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 (online now)

Dave Polaschek

4072 posts in 1037 days

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

Nice work, Nathan!

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View jeffswildwood's profile


4002 posts in 2432 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


3748 posts in 1842 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


8520 posts in 2585 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


32086 posts in 3321 days

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

These are all very nice mallets. Congratulations!

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View bobasaurus's profile


3601 posts in 3639 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


3679 posts in 1779 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 (online now)


1043 posts in 1512 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


2942 posts in 1395 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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