The Great Mallet Swap of 2012 - my contribution

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Project by Bagtown posted 12-26-2012 10:49 PM 2186 views 9 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This mallet swap has been one of the best things I’ve gotten to do in a long time.
I made this mallet for Gmatheson. As we were the only two Canadians in the swap, we exchanged mallets with each other. I’m glad we did, cause the one I received is a beauty.

I turned this mallet from a piece of tiger maple that came from a pallet were I worked 12 or 15 years ago, I’ve been hoarding it for too long.

After I got the block turned round on the lathe, I started to shape it.
There were these holes in the side from the board that was stapled to this piece on the pallet.
I left them and thought they just added to the character of the mallet.

I got the shape finished but I was a little disappointed in how light it was.
So I hunted around my shop for something to weight it with. All I could find was a piece of hex brass that I sometimes use as a mallet myself. I didn’t want to use that so I headed over to a buddy’s place to see what he had. When I told him about the mallet swap he thought that was pretty cool. He thought for a few minutes and said come with me. So we headed out to his shop, and from out of the clutter he pulled a 1.0” diameter piece of brass that was 6” long. It was pointed on one end and had a loop cast into it on the other end. It was graduated in inches up the side and had “Lufkin” cast into the side of it.

About 30 years ago he worked in Port Hawksbury, Cape Breton (Nova Scotia), and one of the things he did when ships came in was to dip the tanks to see how much fuel was in the bottom of the almost empty tanks. Somehow this piece of brass ended up in his shop 30 years later. So he gave it to me as he hadn’t had any use for it all this time. So I cut 2” off of it and bored a hole in the end of the mallet, and epoxied the brass into the head of the mallet.

Then I went hunting for a piece of wood to turn for a plug.
I don’t know what this wood is or where it came from.

It’s fairly heavy and maybe a little oily.
So I turned a plug to fit the 1.0” hole and epoxied that in above the brass.

After the epoxy set up I put the newly weighted mallet back in the lathe. The spur drive marks were just about on centre so it was pretty easy to just carry on using those drive marks.

After that it was finishing with a couple of coats of BLO, allowing each coat to soak in for a day, and then some beeswax put on and buffed out with 0000 steel wool. There must be 3 or 4 coats of wax on it.

I turned the ends down as small as I dared.

After that, they were cut off with a handsaw and the lumps pared off with a chisel.
I had hoped to get the top dead flat, but I’m afraid there is a slight hump in the middle. It does still stand up on end on the bench though.

So that’s the mallet I made.

I shipped it off as fast as I could and forgot to include a card or anything. I was just excited to get it done and in the mail soon enough to make it for the drop dead date of Dec 25th.
I hope Mr. Matheson puts it to good use and beats some chisels with it real soon and puts a few dents in it.

I did weigh it before it left and it was 22.6 ounces if I remember correctly.

I would highly reccommend that if any of you get a chance to get in on one of these swaps, then you should do it.

Thanks for looking, and feel free to comment.


-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

15 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16190 posts in 3123 days

#1 posted 12-26-2012 11:00 PM

Excellent mallet, wonderful project entry with detail! Congrats, love it!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2706 days

#2 posted 12-26-2012 11:00 PM

Mike, excellent build and such a beautiful piece of Maple there…....

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17960 posts in 3511 days

#3 posted 12-26-2012 11:02 PM

Mike im pretty sure most folks around here would kiss their own sister to have such a fine mallet gifted to them. The fact that you had squirreled that lumber away for all those years speaks volumes. The swap was indeed the coolest thing i have done in a while.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3103 days

#4 posted 12-26-2012 11:06 PM

Great post and mallet Mike. Well done

View Dave's profile


11434 posts in 3344 days

#5 posted 12-26-2012 11:06 PM

Mike that is a job well done and a great mallet.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6820 posts in 3857 days

#6 posted 12-26-2012 11:15 PM

Love the mallet and the post was great as well!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 4235 days

#7 posted 12-26-2012 11:58 PM

Thanks for the kind comments fellas.
I’m looking forward to more events like this.

-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4081 days

#8 posted 12-27-2012 12:02 AM

Nice looking klunking hammer :))

View bhog's profile


2238 posts in 3195 days

#9 posted 12-27-2012 12:04 AM

An awesome mallet man.Beautiful figure.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2881 days

#10 posted 12-27-2012 12:05 AM

Great mallet and beautiful wood. A very fitting project for the wood and to be able to gift such a piece is wonderful. One of the best things about woodworking for me is actually being able to share it (not just pics online). the stories behind the wood, the process and the finished piece. This swap has been so much fun and the best thing i’ve done in a while.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View patron's profile


13653 posts in 3845 days

#11 posted 12-27-2012 12:09 AM

great work mike

and a well understood sequence too

you canadians sure have some nice pallets
if this is the wood from them

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View JL7's profile


8752 posts in 3469 days

#12 posted 12-27-2012 12:12 AM

Very cool Mike… the lufkin weight…....and a beautiful piece of wood…...well done.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View GMatheson's profile


478 posts in 3474 days

#13 posted 12-27-2012 12:31 AM

Thanks for the mallet Mike. It is truly an impressive mallet and I am sure it will spend a lot of time out on the bench. I love all the history that you worked into it. Instant classic. Once I get it all broke in I’ll post a few updated pics for you.
This mallet swap was indeed the greatest thing since sliced bread.

-- Greg in Ontario, Canada

View mafe's profile


12104 posts in 3594 days

#14 posted 01-01-2013 03:53 PM

Beautiful mallet, what a play in that wood.
I love the weight you added.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View DIYaholic's profile


19859 posts in 3179 days

#15 posted 01-01-2013 06:50 PM

That is one heck of a mallet, build and story.

The wood is from a utilitarian pallet that could have been burned or landfilled!
The brass had served it’s functional purpose, and was collecting dust, in it’s “semi-retirement”!
You brought them together with a new purpose for them both and did a beatiful job at that. Mass of brass + pallet wood = One awesome Mallet!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

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