I needed 3 more mallets for hand tool classes I’ll be teaching at the New England Home Show. When I saw Michael Cullen’s “Make a mallet” in the Fine Woodworking “Tools and Shops” Annual Issue (Winter 2012/13 #230), I decided to follow his article.
I had some nice dense walnut scraps from a previous project, but none quite big enough for his pattern. They were big enough, however, to match my old Clay beech mallet. Since I figure a little more mass always helps, I scaled them up as big as the scraps could go.
The real challenge in making these is the tapered mortise in the head. The initial straight mortise is, ahem, straightforward, but tapering the sides to the slight odd angle is more difficult, particularly getting a consistent flat wall all the way through.
After roughing the taper with a bench chisel, I refined it with very narrow mortise chisel (so I could take small, controlled bites), narrow paring chisel, and planemaker’s edge float.
Matching and fitting the taper in the handle was the intermediate challenge. On the last one, I cracked the end of the handle being too aggressive driving it in to seat it, so I had to remake it, and took more care in the fitting. Brute force never trumps careful fitting!