Build the Joiner’s Mallet

One Hour Per DayI haven’t been in my shop since last week, but I have a good excuse — I was working on a particularly nasty “Honey Do.” It’s one of those jobs that I’ve been putting off because I knew it was going to take a lot of work and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. As you can see, I’ve been removing old moldy grout and caulk (lots of caulk!) in our downstairs shower.

I spent the better part of the weekend in a cramped 36″x36″ space, with very little light, working on my hands and knees. And for anyone that knows me, I filled up most of that space…and I can’t see very well as it is…and I’ve got bad knees! So I’m not a happy camper. But my wife is, and that’s what counts.

I did get back in the shop last evening though and I started working on a simple project that I’ve had laying around in a box for three or four years. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) When our company moved its warehouse into the new space at the Woodsmith Store, they held a sale of older or slow-moving merchandise. I’m a sucker for sales and so I took home a couple of boxes full of mis-matched hardware, parts for jigs, and even several parts for a joiner’s mallet that used to be sold at the store as a ready-to-assemble hand tool kit. (Note: the mallet was originally published as a project in ShopNotes No. 2: Joiner’s Mallet.) I think I ended up with enough parts to make a half dozen mallets and my intent was to assemble them all, then sell them at a garage sale.

Anyway, they’re easy to build since the parts are already pre-cut. The mallet is made up of two core pieces, two sides, a handle and some wedges to hold the handle in place. The first step was to glue the core pieces to one of the sides. The core pieces have pockets drilled into them for some lead weights. According to the instructions, you should add epoxy to keep the lead shot from rattling. I don’t see much need for it, and besides it’s messy!

After filling the pockets with lead, I glued on the other side piece. At first I used a couple of quick clamps. They’re easy to use, but they only apply pressure in one spot. I noticed that there were some gaps in the laminated pieces, so I switched to a couple of screw clamps. This puts even pressure all along the glue joint.

Finally, I used a micro-rasp to shape the handle. As you can see in the picture, I used another screw clamp to hold the handle while I shaped it. If you don’t own a few of these old-fashioned clamps, I highly recommend getting some. They come in handy in a lot of ways around the shop.

Well, this was a nice hour in the shop and much better than working on the shower stall. I’ll finish the mallet tomorrow or Friday. I guess I’ll have to finish my Honey-do list over the weekend!

5 Responses to “Build the Joiner’s Mallet”

Toni said,

Long over due projects. I can relate. I have spent more time this year in my wood shop that I did in 2004 and 2005. Of course having our third child in 2005 *might* have something to do with it!

So, did you make a wooden dead blow hammer? What type of wood did you use?

Joel Hess said,

Hi Toni, I’ve been surprised how much I can get done in an hour. If you mouse over the blue text and click on the links, you’ll see pictures of the mallet I’m building. The kit had pre-cut parts, the mallet portion is hard maple and the handle is walnut. I’m planning on using a couple of pieces of paudauk for the wedges (which weren’t provided in the kit). Congratulations on your new baby.

Dean Atkinson said,

I am a beginner at 40yrs. old. I just found this site. Do you have any more of those mallet kits left? Could I purchase one from you?
Thanks! Dean Atkinson

Joel Hess said,

Dean, The kit is no longer available and neither are the plans. The original plans are in ShopNotes No. 2. You may be able to snag a copy on ebay, or try one of our woodworking forums. Maybe someone can offer some help.

Good luck in your search, Joel

Dave Beaddie said,

this lead weighted kit reminded me of some fishing ‘priests’ I made for scottish salmon fishing friends. scraps of square beech, about 1.5″x1.5’x7 were turned into the short club shapes- with some fancy work- not too fancy or they stay at home on the display shelf- a neat wrist lanyard, and a small roll of lead sheet in a lathe drilled end hole, plugged with some matching wood. Deadly little tools that finish off a big fish or game birds with the minimum distress- hell, British royalty use them. Great gifts, few hours work.