Introduction: Easy Wooden Mallet

Picture of Easy Wooden Mallet

I made a mallet years ago; it was a block of wood with part of an old broomstick glued in as a handle (photo 2). It's functional, but pretty battered now and I'd wanted to make a proper one ever since I saw a very short set of instructions in an old Lee Valley Tools newsletter. I figured it would be a fun build and it would give me a good excuse to try out my new router table. And it saved me $25!

Not much to do design-wise really - you could do it by eye based on the sketch from the newsletter - but I enjoy tweaking things before actually building them (I generally only ever build one of every project to minimize both waste and boredom), so I mocked it up in Sketchup first (photo 3).

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

This project just requires a few pieces of wood, and it's a good opportunity to use up some scraps that you'd otherwise just burn as firewood. If you use a mallet a lot, build it out of hardwood. I don't anticipate wearing mine out any time soon - I'm very much a weekend woodworker - so I just used a piece of softwood. You need a saw, wood glue and some clamps. I used a miter saw and a table saw because I have them in my garage, but a regular handsaw would do the trick. I cleaned mine up with a router, but lots of sandpaper and/or a file would work fine.

Step 2: Cut

Picture of Cut

Cut out all the pieces from 18 mm (3/4") wood. None of the dimensions shown are critical, and it is easy to tweak the design to your liking once you've made it, at least as far as the length of the handle and the size of the head goes. You'll see how at the assembly stage.

Get a piece of wood 350 mm long and rip at a slight angle; I made mine 40 mm wide at one end and 30 mm at the other (i.e. the angle on each side is about 1 degree). This is easy with a table saw, but not difficult with a handsaw either. Trim the ends.

Rip another piece of wood to 90 mm wide, and cut two pieces 120 mm long and two pieces 45 mm long.

Step 3: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

Place your handle exactly in the middle of one of the 120 x 90 mm pieces, so that 25 mm of the thickest end of the handle protrudes past the top of the mallet head. Now glue your 45 mm pieces on the outside of the handle (but don't glue the handle itself). Clamp, remove the handle, clean out any squeezed-out glue from where the handle will go, and leave to dry for at least 20 minutes. Glue and clamp the final layer of the sandwich on. It will look horrible; don't worry about it. The magic happens in the next step...

Step 4: Shape the Head

Picture of Shape the Head

Now that you have the head all firmly glued together, it's time to make it look nice. I made 85 degree cuts on each side to make a trapezoid and then two more at 90 degrees to the new faces across to where the handle emerges from the top. Dry fit the handle - if the mallet is too big, trim it to suit you better.

Step 5: Routing

Picture of Routing

I then ran the mallet head past a small roundover bit on my new router table, but you could do this instead with a sharp plane and/or sandpaper. I also carved a nice rounded grip with a large roundover bit, and drilled a hole in the end to make it easy to hang up. Note the end grain on the striking faces.

Step 6: Finish

Picture of Finish

Glue the handle in place if you like, but I didn't bother - it's not going anywhere. Sand and finish to your liking; I used some clear finish to stop it getting too dirty and to make the grain pop a little more. Go chisel something!

Note: there are a bunch of nice mallet instructables out there if you want something a bit different from this simple one: turned, another turned, one piece, dowel-fixed, weighted and a really high end mahogany/curly maple one.

For a superb stop-motion construction of a turned mallet, see Frank Howarth's YouTube video. Actually, do yourself a favour while you're there and check out some of his other work - amazing!

Step 7: Builds

Picture of Builds

If you make your own from these instructions, please send me a photo and some details and I'll feature it here & send you a pro membership. The first one above is from stonesatori, made from cherry, hand sanded and finished with mineral oil. The next two pictures are from BrianO7, who added dowels for extra strength. MM5King bound the handle with paracord. roundhousedesign made theirs from red oak and finished it with linseed oil. digamma101 made 2 different styles and finished them with cedar stain. the_yellow_aardvark made theirs from pallet wood. TreyW8's uses some interesting angles. SpencerG18 used curly maple.

Comments

SpencerG18 made it! (author)2017-02-04

I made this one out of some scrap curly maple I've had sitting around for a couple years. It's finished in tung oil.

makendo (author)SpencerG182017-02-04

Really nice! Great bit of wood. Thanks for posting.

SpencerG18 (author)makendo2017-02-04

Thanks! It was a really fun project - Thanks for the Instructable and for the premium membership! Very sweet bonus to cap off the fun project.

TreyW8 made it! (author)2016-12-09

I this one out of walnut from home depot and and oak handle from a pallet I grabbed off the street.

makendo (author)TreyW82016-12-10

Nice! I like the interesting angles you used. Premium membership on way.

the_yellow_ardvark made it! (author)2016-12-06

Here are 2 I made, both from pallet wood.

The heads are dowled and glued.

Great job! Premium membership on the way.

digamma101 made it! (author)2016-10-02

Thanks for the guidance in this instructable; was a good way to spend a couple of afternoons. This turned into more than I meant it to be! Instead of just one mallet, I decided to make a second, rounded one. Then instead of leaving it raw, I thought a nice dark red cedar stain would be nice and then to cover it and make it nice and hard, a couple of coats of polyurethane. Now it's drying and I'm going to have to buy that set of chisels I've had my eye on!

makendo (author)digamma1012016-11-22

Great work! Sorry about the slow reply, I've been snowed under. Premium membership on the way.

roundhousedesign made it! (author)2016-02-11

Thanks for the instructable! It was really easy to follow and I enjoyed the process alot. This one is made out of red oak, finished with linseed oil.

makendo (author)roundhousedesign2016-02-11

Fantastic, thanks for posting the picture! Looks great. Pro membership on its way.

roundhousedesign (author)makendo2016-02-13

That's awesome - appreciate it! - thanks! :)

Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-11

That looks just so beautiful... I NEED to make one!

How much does it weigh? (No-one has ever told me that it's rude to ask mallets how much they weigh)

makendo (author)Yonatan242016-02-11

Thanks. I've never weighed it, but it's softwood so it is very light. That suits me just fine - I don't use chisels for heavy work, just clean up, so the mallet is used only for light tapping. If you want a heavier one, make it larger and/or out of hardwood and/or soak it in linseed oil.

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242016-02-11

Thanks for linking Frank's video, I get hypnotized everytime I watch one of his videos!

MrMxylptlyk (author)2015-11-23

Absoloutely beautiful.

makendo (author)MrMxylptlyk2015-11-23

thanks. You should make one!

MrMxylptlyk (author)makendo2015-11-24

** I did want to make one.

MrMxylptlyk (author)MrMxylptlyk2015-11-24

yea. I am glad you have posted the dimensions. more projects should do that. should make life easy.

makendo (author)MrMxylptlyk2015-11-24

I think you'll enjoy it. Seeing the mallet emerge from a horrible lump of glued-together pieces is pretty satisfying

MrMxylptlyk (author)makendo2015-11-24

yes. I have a winter break coming up. I didn't want to make a mallet for a while. this is very cool.

MM5King made it! (author)2015-10-03

by far one of my favorite projects yet! I used wood from my scrap pile and added a paracord hand grip. Awesome $0 Fun!!! Thanks for the Instructable!

makendo (author)MM5King2015-10-04

Great job! Looks really rugged and the paracord looks awesome

BrianO7 (author)2015-06-13

Here's mine. Inserted dowels for added strength

makendo (author)BrianO72015-06-13

Looks great! Thanks for posting the pictures.

stonesatori made it! (author)2015-03-31

I've been meaning to make this for a long while and finally got around to it, thanks for the help!

makendo (author)stonesatori2015-03-31

Looks really nice, great stuff

standard21 (author)2014-11-14

Simple , efficace , indispensable , utile , bravo belle réalisation :)

makendo (author)standard212014-11-14

Merci bien!

The Rambler (author)2014-11-11

I think I have checked out most of the wooden mallets on this site as the simplicity of the tool and beauty of the wood is always incredibly appealing to me. This is definitely one of my favorites.

makendo (author)The Rambler2014-11-11

Thanks. Given how easy it was to make I'm really happy with how it came out.

warehouse32 (author)2014-11-10

My work has never been called "really high end" before...I'm honored! A mallet is such a fun tool to make cause like you said, it can be tweaked in so many ways to perfectly suit your needs/tastes. Great job!

makendo (author)warehouse322014-11-10

Ha, it was only a matter of time, yours is a work of art. And thanks.

wilgubeast (author)2014-11-10

That is a pretty wooden mallet. Probably the result of the gorgeous LED illumination on the router bit. :D

makendo (author)wilgubeast2014-11-10

Thanks. And yes, absolutely... I hadn't realised the router came with LEDs, so the fact I could bask in the cold glow of modern science while cutting things just made me, well, want to cut more things...

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Bio: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture
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