Making a mallet from a log

With some inspiration from the title of the book “Make a Chair From A Tree”, I worked on a new project: making a mallet from a log.

The point of the exercise again was twofold: The first being that I wanted a mallet and the second being that I wanted to see if I could make something entirely from a part of a tree using only hand tools.

So, to begin, I went to a big lump of ash that I had laying around. Chocking it in the vise, I cut off enough for the mallet head using the 9 point 26″ cross-cut saw. I’d have used one with bigger teeth if I had it, but I got through the log handily enough.

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I did the same for a handle and then rough shaped each with an axe. Like a Viking.

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Back into the vise I put the head blank and proceeded to flatten one side with the scrub plane and then the smoothing plane.

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I pretty much sized the blank by eye; trying and truing as I went. I also cut the ends of the blank at an angle of a few degrees to give it the proper shape.

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The handle blank got some more shaping with the axe, scrub and smoothing planes. I put a slight taper on the handle to correspond with a taper mortise in the head.

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I had to mark a center-line on the handle so I hit on the idea of drawing a circle on the handle, with the circle being tangent to the both edges. The I used the center of the circle as a point on the center-line. I did the same near the end and then drew a line between both center points.

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Since I been reading “By Hand And Eye” of late, I marked out the center of the mallet head by using dividers.

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I then measured out for the mortise in the head and laid out the taper of the mortise by marking around the handle on the side of the mallet head.

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I went then and chopped out the mortise. I tried drilling out with an auger but went askew so I drilled out a smaller hole and chopped away until I got it all chopped out.

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Then I gave the mallet a test fit. Seems to look the part at least.

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Now onto shaping the handle. I had to take down the width of the handle from side to side as it was too fat to get my hand around comfortable. This was done by sawing, chopping, using a rasp etc etc.

I used a spokeshave to get the corners down to have the handle more octagonal. The handle now has a swell above and below where the hand grips it, so I’m happy enough with how this turned out.

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A quick sanding and then it was off to the finishing booth.

I got some boiled linseed oil as this is a traditional finish for a mallet. Also I never used it before so this project was as good an excuse as any to give it a go.

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The oil was applied in two coats over two days and darkened the wood a bit and made the grain more prominent.

I like the way it came out.

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I may change the shape of the handle in the future with the carved out section going further up the hand to make it look more balanced.

The mallet is nice to use with chisels instead of a smaller hammer. It seems to not absorb any energy and just drives the chisel down in the wood.

All in all, I’m pretty happy. Next on will be made using all the machines though. 🙂

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