A few questions about making a wooden mallet.

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Forum topic by Rocksteady2R posted 02-23-2015 04:00 PM 3034 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 2283 days

02-23-2015 04:00 PM

I see lots of folks making wooden mallets for around the shop. I’m a neophyte, and don’t often have the need, for one (or so I think, as I reach for my hammer and a sacrificial beating board), but I think it’d be a fine fun little project.

When I see ya’lls mallets, so many have a a trapezoid head, instead of a flat rectangle. So many. Is there a particular reason for this? I can’t really imagine that there’s so much of an increase in any sort of efficiency, but… but I’ve been wrong before. is it more than just an aesthetic design choice?

also: I happen to have some very nice blocks of mesquite that are definitely the right size and thickness for a mallet. what do ya’ll think of this as a wood choice? if it’s not these, it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, I don’t really have a “fancy wood” budget yet.

8 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


9168 posts in 3205 days

#1 posted 02-23-2015 04:03 PM

With a flat face, when the mallet contacts what you’re working on it will be at an angle to the workpiece. Unless you have the workpiece set up a few inches below your elbow. The angle you want is basically taking a straight line from the top edge of the mallet face to your elbow.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 3123 days

#2 posted 02-23-2015 04:48 PM

I took this idea from Jay Nolet; look him up here on LJ (he’s got pictures.) Buy an old wooden softball bat from a yard sale or flea market, Cut 12 inches off the handle end then cut six or seven inches off the head of the barrel. Drill a hole in the head to fit the handle end. Epoxy it in place. A mallet you don’t mind getting dinged up. You can always make a new one

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

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6419 posts in 3266 days

#3 posted 02-23-2015 05:12 PM

+1 to jmart’s advice. My first mallet was built with a square face because I didn’t think about that fact and resulted in a lot of dents on workpieces because of the bottom corner hitting first. My next (and still current) mallet was much done much better with that in mind.

Here’s a good image and graphic borrowed from a post on that shows the angle considerations. (the link goes to the full post that has even more information.)

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Andre's profile


4458 posts in 2861 days

#4 posted 02-23-2015 06:04 PM

For smaller mallets that are used for assembly(tappers) or on small chisels I like a flat face just my preference!
Tend to use round or brass or most chisel work, my last big mallet meant for some serious mortise work coming up on a work bench build.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3016 days

#5 posted 02-23-2015 06:23 PM

JayT in with the diagrams, nice.

also: I happen to have some very nice blocks of mesquite that are definitely the right size and thickness for a mallet. what do ya ll think of this as a wood choice? if it s not these, it s probably not going to happen anytime soon, I don t really have a “fancy wood” budget yet.

- Rocksteady2R

Then I think that makes the mesquite a perfect choice for a mallet. Make it with what you have. Paul Sellers has a good set of videos on how to make a mallet the traditional way on Youtube, but if you don’t care to make it with hand tools there’s a free set of plans for a similar design you can make with whatever tools you have. Paul’s videos may be helpful for understanding anyway.

Here’s the link to the plans:

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881 posts in 3497 days

#6 posted 02-23-2015 06:30 PM

Thanks for the link to the free plans – lots of good looking stuff in there!

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View Rocksteady2R's profile


17 posts in 2283 days

#7 posted 02-23-2015 08:08 PM

wow. Awesome. Thanks all.

I figured it had to do with the science of it, but I couldn’t reconcile that with the fact that hundreds of thousands of construction workers the the world over swing straight handled hammers with parallel striking surfaces. but then ya’ll pointed out both the regularly higher point of work for a woodworker (like the pic says – everything is up on a workbench) and JT pointing out the lead edge of the mallet being a problem.

and Tim, thanks for the reminder to work with what I got.

Thanks for all the info! much appreciated!

View Jesse's profile


58 posts in 2681 days

#8 posted 02-23-2015 08:15 PM

I really like the Paul Sellers videos on You Tube. I just watched the mallet making series last night actually. Look him up, excellent craftsman. He does use more hand tools than I do but I can take his approach, ideas, and plans and still use my band saw and planer and jointer :)

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