Wood mallets

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Project by gustmadeit posted 08-16-2018 02:59 AM 10837 views 8 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Started a new project about 3 weeks ago which was to make 2-3 wood mallets using hardwoods. I started by going to local wood supplier and picked 3 hardwood boards (hard maple, american cherry, american walnut) – each of them 8/4 rough boards, about 6” wide and 8 ft long.

Templates: I purchased a 4×8 sheet of 1/4” hardboard and cut into smaller strips (about 6”x2’). I like to have a stack of these by my miter saw as their excellent for preventing chip-out on those important cuts. I started with the handles, made a few different test handle templates before eventually coming up with what I liked the best. I wanted to come up with 2 different sizes. I ended up with a 10” version and a 11” version. Using a template router bit, I made a couple master templates for each handle. Nice to have a working template and then a few masters for when you need to make more. Sometimes the bushing on the router bit can distort the template over time (slight indentations) so its a good idea to take time to make a few masters. Label each of them. The head of the mallet is 5.25” wide, 3.25” tall, and 3” thick. I made the templates about 1/64” larger to allow for sanding. Used a 4 degree angle on the mallet head. I started with 3 degrees but I didn’t think it was enough and 4 degrees looked just right to me.

Glue-ups: Each mallet was about 6-8 individual glue-ups, depending on the design. The handle is one glue-up, then another to add the dowel detail. I used 3/8” tapered dowels. I used an awl to mark the dowels on the templates and then onto the handles so their all in the exact same spot. The head of the mallet is about 3 glue-ups. I made the head using 12” stock. Once planed to size, I cut in half and book matched. Then cut the middle section which is 2 pieces. I try to use the maple for this as its the core of the mallet and maple is the hardest of the 3 hardwoods. I cut the 2 pieces at a 4 degree angle so it creates a wedge shape. One of the mallets I drilled two 1” holes in each piece (4 total holes) using forstner bit and added lead BB’s to add weight. The mallet with all of the fine detail took longer because I had to make a supply block (1/4” thick pieces, roughly 12” long, total of about 48. I did in 3 different glue-ups (too much to try do all at once). This block is what I used to cut lengths off for the detail pieces. Once the head was ready, I would attach to template using a strong double stick tape. I use Fastcap Speedtape. It’s pricey but the best tape I’ve found for template work. Then I would take to miter saw and take off any extra material that I could (less to do at router). I find errors such as chipout happen moreoften at the router so I try to take off as much material as I can before routing. Plus its easier on the router bits. At this point there quite a bit of time invested into the mallet heads so critical that the routing be error free. I would trim to about 1/8” to 1/16” of the template. When routing, I would take off about 1/2” at a time, maybe even a little less. Then remove template and take off more. Then raise bit and continue. I eventually change my 1/2” template bit for my 3/4” and take off more material. Lastly, I used a 1” flush trim router bit, flips piece over and finished up. Go slow, the less material you take off the less chance of a chip-out. The key to nice routing is using good sharp bits. You don’t want to use a cheap bit when plowing thru hard maple as it will likely lead to burning and chip out. I use CMT and Bosch router bits. Next I made up 1” wide wedges which get driven into the end of the head. Lots of glue. Used a small flush trim hand saw to cut off excess, then 1/2” chisel to remove remaining material. Takes some time to fit the handle to the mallet head. Using a chisel and taking my time, finally got the fit right. To do the final fitting and final glue up can take upwards of an hour. Important to not be in any rush during this part of the project. The goal is to get the fit just right with a nice tight fit on the shoulder of the handle and for the wedges to be evenly driven into the mallet head. On two of the mallets I used 2 wedges and on one I ended up using 4 wedges.

Finishing: I used Titebond 3 glue throughout. Hand sanded using 100, 150, 180, 220, and lastly 320 grit. Applied 3 goats of shellac, lightly sanding w 320 between coats. Used 1 lb cut on all coats. Applied coat of polishing wax at the end. Let dry for 15 min and wiped off. I bought small letter stamps from a craft store, put together “GUST” which is my last name, lightly stamped on the end of the handle, then used a fine tip on wood burner to burn it in. Fun project, definitely not a quick project but a fun one.

18 comments so far

View builtinbkyn's profile


3009 posts in 1749 days

#1 posted 08-16-2018 03:32 AM

Sharp looking mallets!

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

View Vince's profile


1269 posts in 4237 days

#2 posted 08-16-2018 05:21 AM

Nice work

-- Vince

View EarlS's profile


3784 posts in 3156 days

#3 posted 08-16-2018 11:09 AM

Good looking mallets. We had a mallet swap earlier this summer and these would have fit right in. The fall swap will be marking and layout tools. The thread for it is in the Forum section.

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

View becikeja's profile


1123 posts in 3621 days

#4 posted 08-16-2018 11:52 AM

They look good. How do you like the balance with the dimensions you used. Been considering a project to do a couple of these, but struggling to understand how to balance them,

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View doubleDD's profile


9544 posts in 2851 days

#5 posted 08-16-2018 12:00 PM

Excellent looking mallets.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View recycle1943's profile


4594 posts in 2430 days

#6 posted 08-16-2018 12:33 PM

Waaaaay too nice for anything but wall hangers, I would call the sheriff if someone tried to hammer anything one of them.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View gustmadeit's profile


36 posts in 1732 days

#7 posted 08-16-2018 02:00 PM

Regarding the balancing, I really like them both. There definitely is a difference in the feel. The 10” mallet is the one that I added the BB’s. Both have a very nice feel though. I didn’t put much thought into balance, I mostly focused on what I thought felt the best in the hand. I tend to like the shorter size better. Honestly, not sure that the BB’s are necessary but they add to the project. Some argue that if you need BB’s, then what you really need is to sharpen the chisel. But they do sound cool in there :)

View ZAGREB's profile


1276 posts in 2458 days

#8 posted 08-16-2018 03:02 PM

great work,very nice malets you made

-- bambi

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7672 posts in 1521 days

#9 posted 08-16-2018 03:05 PM

WOW … these would have fit right into the mallet swap we just had … maybe next time you will join in … GREAT JOB :<)) GRATZ TOP 3

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View sras's profile


5536 posts in 3938 days

#10 posted 08-16-2018 03:19 PM


-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Dwain's profile


617 posts in 4667 days

#11 posted 08-16-2018 04:47 PM

Now you are just showing off! Beautiful. As I say, a tool that is too nice to use isn’t a tool, it’s art.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View therealSteveN's profile


5959 posts in 1382 days

#12 posted 08-16-2018 05:36 PM

Those are some large looking thumpers. Nice job.

Thanks for posting, and Congrats on your 3.

-- Think safe, be safe

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3675 days

#13 posted 08-16-2018 06:56 PM

These are very nice shop made mallets.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Woodenwizard's profile


1366 posts in 3851 days

#14 posted 08-16-2018 09:48 PM

Nicely done. Mallets are on my to do list. Will be adding to my favorites for future reference.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View BFamous's profile


344 posts in 929 days

#15 posted 08-16-2018 11:23 PM

Beautiful Mallets!

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC ::

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