Make a Wooden Mallet Easily With Limited Tools

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Here's how to make yourself a wooden mallet using the most basic of tools. All you really need is a saw, a clamp, some wood glue and some sandpaper. If you have a mitre saw, a drill and a router you can add some frippery, but you can do a very good job without these.

Generally mallets are made with the handle cut at an angle so that you finish the head first and insert the handle from the top. This is great if you have the tools and/or skills to cut the handle at an angle and wish to replace the handle or head. I don't and I don't.

My method is to cut square and glue it all up. It's easy. It's peasy. It's lemon squeezy.

Up for it? Follow me then.

Step 1: Materials

Mallets are generally made with hardwoods, but you can of course use whatever the hell you want. It is nice if the woods have contrasting colours. I only had meranti and white oak, so it's two tone for me.

As the mallet is made like a sandwich, all the wood needs to be the same thickness. In my case the wood was 20mm thick. 25mm (an inch) would be fine. Or 30. Or anything in the vicinity,

In the picture I have shown a thicker piece of meranti, but that isn't the bit I used.

Handle

320 x 35mm (20 thick) oak

The mallet head

500 x 70 x 20

Dowels (if you want 'em)

Two 70mm x 9mm diameter

Step 2: Tools

You need:

saw

pencil

ruler

clamps (you could tough it out with string or weights, but clamps are good)

Would be nice:

some form of square or right angle

mitre saw

router

drill

mallet

Step 3: Cut and ...

Cut your wood to size. The handle and the wood for the head is the same thickness already. It is, right?

Handle:

The handle should be a suitable width that you like (mine was 35mm) and a length you like (mine was 320mm).

Head:

Cut 2 pieces 140mm and 2 pieces 60mm wide.

Step 4: ... Paste

The first thing to say is that I didn't photograph this stage, so this photo is fake news. I re-enacted it using a stunt double. And my stunt double used crappy wood.

Make sure all the wood is smooth and flat where it will meet. Lay down one of the wide pieces of mallet head on a similar width piece of scrap (this is so that the clamps don't damage the outside of the head). This will be the reference piece that all the other wood will be aligned to.

Put the handle across this and make sure it is centred (use the ruler) and square. Once you're happy, clamp it.

Mark the handle position in pencil in case you cock it up. Try not to cock it up.

Put plenty of wood glue on one side of the head (next to the clamped handle). Glue an inside piece of wood to this, making sure is square with the handle and the top and bottom of the mallet head. The side will project, but that's okay as we're cutting that later. Clamp it solidly. Glue will squeeze out. Wipe it up.

Now unclamp the handle, glue it up, stick it back. Plenty of glue back and sides. It's up to you how much you want the handle to project. I made mine flush. Make sure it is still centred and square.

Repeat for the last piece. Make sure the head pieces are flush at the top and bottom and flush to the handle.

Let dry for 24 hours. I did mine for 23 and a half hours, but I like to live dangerously.

Make sure the inside is flat and level, sand if necessary.

Glue the other mallet face and clamp. Use scrap wood again to make sure you don't damage the wood.

Step 5: It IS a Mallet, Sorta..

You should now have a lumpy mallet.

Let's see what we can do...

Step 6: Unnecessary Step

I decided to put a couple of dowels through the mallet. They serve no real purpose other than decorative. Sometimes I make knives and like the pinned look of handles. In the case of wood, the glue is stronger than the wood so this adds nothing. But I like it and it's my mallet.

I drilled holes right through, put glue on the dowels and tapped them through. Once dry I cut them flush. Obvious really...

Step 7: Another Unnecessary Step

Most mallets have the handle poking through. I decided to cut the top of mine off. So I did...

Step 8: Cut the Angle of the Head

The angle of the head should be so that it approximately lines up with your elbow when holding it. You can figure this out with string if you like. Or use the 4 degrees that I went for.

I have a mitre saw so used it.

If you don't have a mitre saw you can use a handsaw. Just mark the head with a pencil and cut carefully.

If you don't have a protractor, there are plenty of online angle finders. Print the angle, cut it out and use it as a template.

Step 9: It IS a Mallet. But Maybe We Can Do Better. Maybe...

Sand it down. Admire your work.

If you have a router you can rout a nice roundover edge on the head and on the part of the handle you will hold. I was given a router recently and this was my first go. I now love routers.

If you don't have a router than sand the edges to a nice chamfer. If chamfer means what I think it means...

I also rounded the end.

Anyway, make it look nice.

Step 10: Mr Miyagi

Wax on. Wax off.

I used a mix of bees wax and mineral oil as that's what I had.

Boom. Finished.

Step 11: Further Pimpery

If you like you can pimp it further with some carving, pyrography (if 'pyrography' means what I think it means) or even some inlay work. I am planning to inlay this but have too many other projects on the go at the moment.

This is one of my other hammer handles that I inlaid with bone. The 6 refers to the weight of the hammer head.

I printed out 6 in a nice font, glued it to the bone then used a drill and a jeweller's saw to CAREFULLY cut it out. Then I traced round it on the handle and used a scalpel to carefully cut the edges and a dremel to cut it out, offering up the bone millions of times until the fit was good. I then glued it in place with epoxy and sanded the bone flush.

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    Discussions

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    FlorinJ

    9 days ago on Step 11

    I apologize in advance. I don't want to put you down. I'm sure the mallet as it was built will last for years, and do its job perfectly. But others might read this ible too, and it might be useful to them to avoid a few things which I think were less than ideal in how you built this mallet.

    Usually, you cut the hole for the handle tapered, so that the head cannot slide off the handle at the end opposite to where you're holding the mallet, and don't glue the handle in. In time, both the handle contracts and the hole in the head expands, as the wood dries out and settles, and you can hammer the handle in some more. Which is also why you don't cut off the tip right away, but let at least half an inch or so stick out for at least a few months, maybe a year. Only then do you cut off the tip of the handle.

    Glue is indeed stronger than wood, especially wood across the grain vs glue applied along the grain. Which means that once glued in, the handle will stay fixed to the head, even when the hole becomes bigger than the handle, potentially causing it to crack. Don't be scared if this happens - just drive a wedge in. This will fasten the handle into the head for good, glue or no glue.

    The settling and compressing that happens for a while after building the mallet is also why driving dowels through is not a very good idea. For the aspect alone, you could have used short plugs instead of dowels driven through the whole head.