Sunday, December 29, 2013

Woodworking Mallet

This project began back when I rummaged through the firewood pile at Pennsic earlier this year.   See post (Goldenrod, Black Walnut & Pennsic) for the early steps.

I thought I took pictures along the way, but I must have misplaced one of my memory stick where I collected my photos.  All I can find is the finished product.

The head is made from a chunk of oak from the Pennsic firewood pile.  The handle was cut and shaped from a branch from a tree cut down a couple years ago.  I believe the tree was ash, but as it was dry, without bark and no leaves I can't tell for sure.  The wood is very light, but very dense.

I split the log and used a hewing ax to cut the handle along the grain.  I then used some hand chisels to cut the whole for the handle.  In hind sight (and on my next version) I will likely drill the hole first, or get some better mortising chisels.  My flat chisels were slow going getting the hole cut.

One other lesson learned.  I cut the wedge too long.  When I was pounding it into place I was a bit over zealous and started a split along the handle.  It is still functional, but the small crack is a weak point that will fail some day.  Before that happens it just annoys me every time I look at the new tool.

I applied a light coat of oil and wax once complete.  I read on one site that it is recommended to soak a mallet to add weight keep the wood from cracking.  I haven't done that to this mallet.  I had already applied a coat of oil and wax before I read that.  I may add a few more coats of oil, but it has a good amount of heft to it already so I'm not sure it needs more weight anyway.

Here is my new mallet with his new best friend, the carving ax.  I'll post another blog entry on how I made that.  The combination of these two are my favorite tools in my garage now.