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Project by Kent posted 07-20-2019 10:05 PM 529 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A little over 5 years ago, I was run down by an SUV and suffered a serious Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I was so messed up I didn’t realise that I was messed up. Now, after a lot of vision therapy and sheer effort, I’ve improved to the point that I can actually put some hand tools to some wood and have it turn out somewhat as planned. I’m improving, day by day and month by month, albeit ever so slowly. This mallet is the most complex and complete thing I’ve made so far, and it’s something that wasn’t even possible for me to do even a year ago.

I followed Paul Sellers example, making the head of one piece and making a tapered and shaped handle. This was done completely with hand tools; no electrons were harmed in any way.

The head of mallet was a block of wood, species unknown, that was salvaged from an old pallet. It is heavy, hard and dense! As you can see from photos 3 and 4, it’s from the pith of the tree and it hides a fork/branch. The combination of wood density, hardness and wild grain made chopping, tapering and fitting the mortise even more challenging for me.

It took a very long time for me to make this mallet, but I’m happy with the results. Working in the shop forces my brain to relearn what the accident took from me, and that’s a good thing. Like any project, we learn things along the way that we can apply to future projects. For me, this means that I’ll need to make a smaller, lighter mallet when I finish some more items on my ToDo list.

-- If I knew then what I know now, I'd have made a completely different set of mistakes.

12 comments so far

View splinterpicker's profile


59 posts in 600 days

#1 posted 07-21-2019 05:35 PM

Nice work! I always find that time in the workshop is very therapeutic. Glad that you’re able to work your way up to nice projects like this. Keep it up!

View MrWolfe's profile


242 posts in 571 days

#2 posted 07-21-2019 06:59 PM

+1 on the nice work!
Kudos for reclaiming some great wood from a pallet.
A smaller mallet would be great for chisel/gouge work. Congrats on your recovery. Woodworking makes me use my brain in ways no other activity does, often figuring out how to correct mistakes I’ve made. I can see how it is thrapeutic.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6319 posts in 1160 days

#3 posted 07-21-2019 07:09 PM

its very nice to see you have overcome such a tragedy like that GREAT MALLET :<)))))

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

View Gary's profile


1402 posts in 4771 days

#4 posted 07-21-2019 07:44 PM

Keep on healing

-- Gary, Florida

View SMP's profile


1302 posts in 353 days

#5 posted 07-21-2019 10:40 PM

Hey Kent

Great to see you are improving. Great minds think alike! I made the same mallet when i started learning to use hand tools. And similarly I used the center support of an old oak pallet. I have none of the challenges you face but it was still a challenging project for me to do with only hand tools, but great learning and practice and therapy, Kudos. I’ll post a pic of mine to show the similarities lol.

View Kent's profile


230 posts in 2243 days

#6 posted 07-22-2019 12:53 AM

Thanks for the kind words, one and all.

Jon – a local friend is calling my next mallet therapy 2.0. Yes, it’ll be for chisel work.

SMP – I can definitely see the similarities.

-- If I knew then what I know now, I'd have made a completely different set of mistakes.

View Clarkhus's profile


32 posts in 44 days

#7 posted 07-22-2019 10:40 AM

Kent, thank you for sharing your recovery story. You are an inspiration

-- Clark

View HokieKen's profile


10207 posts in 1586 days

#8 posted 07-22-2019 12:00 PM

Good for you Kent! That mallet looks great. I also followed Paul Sellers’ series on making a mallet a few years ago. It hangs under my bench and still gets used pretty much every time I’m in the shop :-) I have to agree though, a smaller version is necessary. It’s just too big for some things IMO.

Good luck with mallet therapy 2.0!

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

View Hazem's profile


236 posts in 1695 days

#9 posted 07-22-2019 07:47 PM

Looks great. Speedy recovery.

Now go hit something with the mallet…

View Ocelot's profile


2301 posts in 3085 days

#10 posted 07-22-2019 09:26 PM

I have a piece of wood like that that I recovered from an Asian pallet. Seems something like locust. It’s considerably denser than oak. It was so hard, I was unable to pull some of the nails out of it – and had to cut around them.

Nice mallet and I appreciate your resolve to struggle your way to recovery.

View Kent's profile


230 posts in 2243 days

#11 posted 07-22-2019 10:47 PM

Ocelot – I’ve still got some pieces of that “kind” of wood about.

Now go hit something with the mallet…

- Hazem

A few years ago, a buddy of mine volunteered to split my firewood for me for the stress relief. He encountered a few chunks of a particularly dense wood, so I set some of it aside with the hope of making something for him, later. This chunk is large enough for a few smaller mallets and a nutcracker, so I started preparing it to be cut to size. I’m using my new mallet and a hewing axe for the first few steps. The heft is really nice for this task.

A nutcracker like this:

Not like this:

-- If I knew then what I know now, I'd have made a completely different set of mistakes.

View robscastle's profile


6263 posts in 2651 days

#12 posted 08-10-2019 10:14 PM


An inspiring story of recovery keep going.
Maybe you should make a leather belt for the mallet so you can carry it around with you, and if you see the SUV driver wack them on the head with it
Just to to be able to ask “how does that feel”?

-- Regards Rob

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