Introduction: How to Make and Wrap/Repair Mallets for Marimba, Xylophone, Vibraphone, and Glock

Picture of How to Make and Wrap/Repair Mallets for Marimba, Xylophone, Vibraphone, and Glock

Most people would rather not spend $40 for a pair of good mallets, if given the cheaper option of making their own pair of the same quality! This Instructable will be a clear, step by step process, with options of variation for different kinds of mallets. I will be showing you how to make and wrap mallets, or repair and fix your unraveled mallets, using a more durable technique, so that you will be able to personalize the kind of sound you are looking for. 

Here is a list of thinks you will need:
- Glue of some sort (I used a hot glue gun, but use whatever you have that will be durable, probably not Elmer's)
- Scissors
- Dowels (I used 5/16 in X 36 in or .8 cm X 91.4 cm dowels)
- Bouncy balls
- Ruler
- Nail file or sand paper (highly recommended)
- Small saw of some sort
- Marker
- Pencil
- A lot of one kind of yarn (not in picture)
- A larger needle (not in picture)

Step 1: Dowel Preparation

Picture of Dowel Preparation

The dowels are going to be your mallet's handles (as you undoubtedly guessed), and will be the same for each mallet type. You want to be very comfortable with them.

- First off, decide how long you'd like your mallets to be, determined by what you use them on and how you like the length. I measured mine about 16 inches (yes, I know they are 18 in the picture, I cut them smaller later). Take a pencil and mark the point on the dowel that is the proper length. Do this for two, and make them the same of course.

- Take your small saw, and cut the dowels to the correct lengths that you marked on the dowels.

- For the best quality and comfort, sand the dowels so that they are nice and comfortable. Also sand the end tips that won't be the ends with the mallet heads on them.

Step 2: Head Preparation

Picture of Head Preparation

It is critical to create the core for the head of the mallet properly, because you want the mallet to be held together well.

- Start off by tracing the circumference of the dowel onto a bouncy ball, using the marker. This might take more than 2 hands

- THIS PART IS EASY TO MESS UP. VERY GENTLY use the scissors to cut a hole about 3/4 of an inch into the bouncy ball, where you traced the circumference of the dowel. It is important to do this patiently because you don't want to split the bouncy ball like I did at first. Don't make the holes too roomy or too tight.

- You have your hole!

Step 3: Putting the Two Together

Picture of Putting the Two Together

Now you want to connect the two prepared parts of your mallet.

- Make sure the dowel fits in the bouncy ball without splitting it or being too loose!

- Put glue on the inside of the hole in the bouncy ball, and on the dowel, and slide the dowel into the hole. Let this dry well before continuing! 

If you're making xylophone mallets or rubber glock mallets, then you've got your mallet! Repeat the process to make your second mallet

Step 4: Wrapping the Mallet

Picture of Wrapping the Mallet

This is the part of the process that will determine what kind of sound you want to get with the mallet. You can wrap the mallet tighter or looser depending on how hard of a mallet you want. For example, I'm making vibraphone mallets with smaller heads than marimba mallets, so I'm choosing to make them about medium hard. You can also use different thicknesses of yarn based on what kind of mallet you want.

- Get the yarn so you don't cut it from the skein, and you can tie the end of it to the mallet and still have the yarn feed from the skein. Tie the end of the yarn tightly to the mallet, and move it up to right under the head of the mallet.

- Wrap the yarn under, then up and over toward you, in a 45 degree angle motion (like this  \  ), while turning the mallet clockwise to accommodate for covering all surface area of the ball. COUNT THE AMOUNT OF LOOPS YOU DO, so that you can do the same for the other mallet. (I did about 120)

- Continue doing this and counting, and hopefully a hole should form at the top of the yarn coat like in the picture. This is what wrapping it on a slant, is meant to pronounce. It will make the crowning process much easier, making for a more durable mallet.

Step 5: Crowning/Securing the Mallet Head

Picture of Crowning/Securing the Mallet Head

This is a very long, important step, because this is how to guarantee your mallet doesn't fall apart. You will want to do this entire process very tightly! I wish you luck and no knots at this point in the game, my friend

- Pull out a few meters of yarn from the skein, and cut it so that you have a long string of yarn attached to the mallet, then thread the end of the yarn through a larger sized needle (this was VERY difficult for me because of yarn thickness)

- Wrap the mallet so that you have left off coming from the bottom, and push the needle in and out through the top hole in the yarn. You want to try to gather most of the yarn in this loop when you thread it through. PULL TIGHTLY!

- Now, take this to the bottom and do the same thing but mirrored. Push the needle up and out through the bottom, staying as close to the wood as possible, to gather the most yarn inside that loop. (It may help to thread diagonally through the bottom)

- Continue doing this going between top and bottom, as you revolve the mallet head, to do this all around it. Pull tightly each time!

- Tie the yarn off, to itself, as close to the mallet as possible. Then, cut the string right to the mallet, and you can add some glue to keep the knot from coming undone (not necessary at all)

- Make your second mallet the EXACT SAME WAY you made this one

*You're done! Now, try out your new mallets and see if you like the sound you get. I hope this can help others save money and make mallets to their own standards. Thanks for reading! :) 


ClairePawlewitz (author)2014-05-27

If you're doing glock mallets, I would not wrap them unless you want the sounds to be dampened. Maybe even use plastic heads instead. If you want it to be loud but not cutting, use bouncy balls (probably harder ones), but I would not wrap them, no

Dre8881 (author)2014-05-26

If I were making glockenspiel mallets could I wrap them , if yes how many times for a nice, normal sound

About This Instructable




Bio: I like making things, especially if they are things that are music related! I'm a mallet percussionist, singer, and actress, and my life pretty ... More »
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