Roy Underhill's "Mystery Mallet"

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Project by DouginVa posted 11-13-2012 11:24 PM 8014 views 4 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just took Roy Underhill’s “Mystery Mallet” class at his Woodwright’s Shop School in Pittsboro, NC. Very informative class and a great experience to learn from a legendary master. The mallet, you see, can’t go come apart. Yet it can’t go together either. Can you figure out how? The 4th pic is your only clue. The mallet head is walnut and the handle is hickory. And the “master” boring some holes while the class worked away. The corner cupboard that you may have seen him working on during his show is over his left shoulder.

If you ever have the oppurtunity to take one of Roy’s classes you’ll be glad you did.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

11 comments so far

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1251 posts in 3110 days

#1 posted 11-13-2012 11:36 PM

very well executed

-- Joel

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4633 days

#2 posted 11-13-2012 11:45 PM

I believe Roy uses a pair of rising dovetailed wedges on the handle that is under cut on the bottom to make it appear it’s impossible to put together or take apart.


View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30612 posts in 3394 days

#3 posted 11-14-2012 12:16 AM

Very cool. Wish I could have taken class with you.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 4859 days

#4 posted 11-14-2012 02:34 AM

One thing I was not clear on from his article – is there enough left of the shaft piece that the mallet is actually usable?

View DouginVa's profile


503 posts in 3329 days

#5 posted 11-14-2012 02:56 AM

@ Arminius; Yes, sort of. It’s useable but he cautions not to use it in situations where you have to deliver a hard blow. And I’m pretty certain it’s not the handle that is in danger of breaking. It’s the head. There is a rising dovetail that the outside dovetails slide in to that takes a lot of the bulk of wood away from the head. I’m using this strictly as a show piece to be on the safe side. I didn’t want to put this much careful and precise work in to this to have it blow up on me.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View prattman's profile


447 posts in 3174 days

#6 posted 11-14-2012 03:19 AM

A1 Jim nailed it.

-- Everyone calls me Ed or Eddie , mom still calls me Edward if she is mad at me.

View DouginVa's profile


503 posts in 3329 days

#7 posted 11-14-2012 03:25 AM

A1 Jim did nail it. Sounds simple…but it’s not.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View redsox9's profile


105 posts in 3342 days

#8 posted 11-14-2012 04:44 PM

Would love to take one of Mr. Underhill’s classes—a true master of woodworking. Thanks for sharing!

-- Jeff, North Andover, MA

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3232 days

#9 posted 11-14-2012 10:05 PM

Radiant beauty.

View Woodbridge's profile


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#10 posted 11-15-2012 01:55 PM

Very nice job. This ones on my to do list.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View DouginVa's profile


503 posts in 3329 days

#11 posted 11-15-2012 03:46 PM

Not that I didn’t already have an appreciation for hand tools, but now I truly see the benifits of them.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

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