Making A Wooden Mallet
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A wooden mallet a project that most woodworkers tackle at some point attack in their woodworking adventure. Whether the project is accomplished on the table saw with a more square style joiners mallet. Or maybe you go for a more round style jointers mallet and turn it on the lathe as I did. Now, this is not my first wooden mallet attempt on the lathe. I created one out of an oak pallet on the lathe as my very first turning project. It was a great experience and a lot learning of how to hold the tools at the proper angles and etc. I think the hours of watching YouTube probably paid off to help know what I need to know to turn this “big club” into a mallet. So below I tell a story of how I created an updated version of a mallet for my shop. If you have created a wooden mallet of your own be sure to share it with us @insidethekerf on any social of your choosing.
- Wood Lathe
- Roughing Gouge
- Tape Measure
- Table Saw*
*These tools may not be required if your material is already properly prepared for glue up.
- 12″ by 3″x 3″ (this can vary depending on the size of mallet you want)
- Wood Glue
With your stock material, you can get creative and add accent color pieces of wood. I choose to use walnut and oak.
Wooden Mallet Prep Work
For my wooden mallet, I choose to use walnut and oak. The oak was again from an oak pallet that I found at work. On the oak pieces, I went with making them 1/4″ thick. As far the walnut these turned out to be a hair under 3/4″ of an inch. Length for you mallet can be whatever you like. I choose to make mine 12″ long giving more of a mechanical advantage when hammering. This was fine for what I was trying to accomplish. Don’t let your dimensions or species of wood hold you down get creative with how to build your own wooden mallet. That’s the joy of woodworking, the ability to express your own creativity in a project.
To prepare these pieces for turning on the lathe I ran them through my planer and got them flat as I could. Then I began to arrange my pieces into a combination that I thought would look the best. This is also a great time to look for any defects that could possibly be in the wood and make sure they are on the outside. This will ensure that when turning the wood down into a cylinder shape the defect will be removed. This is assuming that the defect is not serious and not extermely deep into the material.
For glue up, I went with the Titebond-3. Titebond-2 I’m sure would be just as fine but as this is my first lamination that I ever put on a lathe I wanted to make sure I had a good secure bond. Two things I learned in my research that you might want to be aware of as well. Make sure not to over clamp your pieces. This is a bad habit of mine probably from my welding career. If something doesn’t fit exactly together in the welding world clamp it harder and tack it together and move on. Same doesn’t apply as much in the woodworking world because this is causing a strain in other areas of the project. Therefore when you clamp your pieces together excessively tight you’re smashing a lot of the glue out between your pieces and starving your joint of glue. Something I never really thought of till I ran across that in the research before beginning the project. So take your time and make sure joints fit together easily without a lot of clamping force
The second tip is to read the back of the bottle of whatever type of glue you decide to go with and make sure to let it sit and cure for the recommended time. You’re about to put laminated pieces together on a spinning death machine make sure to be smart about and it and let them cure fully before doing so.
Making It Round
In the video can probably see my lathe skills are not the best but its a work in process. I used mostly a roughing gouge to accomplish getting my wooden mallet into the shape I desired. Starting off first by turning the square stock into a full round cylinder shape. A lot of turners from what I gather tend to knock off the corners of square stock on the table or bandsaw before turning. This makes roughing out the cylinder shape a little easier and you don’t get as much “clunk” when roughing out your cylinder. You can get an idea of how to something like this if you desire from my blanket ladder build. I chose to start with normal square edges for the full experience and probably a little bit of laziness.
As far as shape goes for my wooden mallet it was just winging it design. I did a google image search for “round wooden joiners mallet” got a little inspiration and went to town. I put a little reference line where I wanted to start tapering down into the handle. I chose to make the handle start sweeping in roughly 6″ from the end. As I stated throughout this article let your creativity run wild and have fun!
Try Something New!
I know this article doesn’t give a lot of technical how-to and step by step of the process. That’s partially my fault and a little bit of planning. This project was a lot of first for me. First time turning, walnut, first time turning a laminated piece. This article’s intent is for you as a reader to get out of the comfort zone and be creative let your mind run wild. Trying new things in the woodshop will only make you grow as a woodworker.
-What have you tried lately that was new for you?
-What are you wanting to try new?