Introduction: Wooden Mallet - A.K.A. the Coffee-Puck Smasher
How to build a wooden mallet in one piece from a block of wood. End purpose of this tool: Coffee-puck smashing. This mallet is built to look 'natural', which means the measurements and the wood work are mostly done by eye. Although sanded and waxed, the mallet will retain a rough look. I like it that way, because it will get damaged anyway when smashing coffee pucks.
As a coffee lover, I've got coffee hardware to match. 27 kilograms of chrome coated coffee extraction goodness on the kitchen sink, baby. We're not talking drip coffee. No, no. This coffee gets made a 10 atmosphere. Es-press-o. The coffee grinds remaing in puck, after having created a tasty cup of coffee, usually need a fair amount of convincing (smashing, hitting, whacking) to drop out of the portafilter. Some people have a so-called knock-box for that. Not the docter Seus type, but a shiny metal box, sometimes placed under the espresso machine, with a rubber-coated bar in it, on which to whack the portafilter until the coffee grinds drop out.
As I have fairly limited space in the kitchen, I prefer not to have yet another big kitchen utensil for coffee making in there. So for removing coffee grinds from espresso portafilters, I have been using a wooden mallet. My so called coffee-puck smasher. This small walk through shows you the steps I made to create a replacement mallet for my old and smashed-to-pieces coffee-puck smasher.
The size of the mallet described here: 5.5 x 10 x 17 cm.
- jigsaw with wood blades
- electric sanding machine
- dremel with cylindrical wood sander
- small ruler
- a hair dryer (or anything able to blow hot air)
- bees' wax / sno seal / mineral oil
- a block of strong wood big enough to make a mallet from (10 x 6 x 15 cm. or bigger)
Step 1: Preparations; Find Wood
To make the mallet, you need wood. First decide how big you want the mallet to be and then find some wood big enough. The block I used was about 10 x 5.5 x 25 cm for a mallet of about 10x 5.5 10 x 17 cm. I used an old support beam from my neighbours house, which was removed during the renovation of his house. It was going to be fire wood, but it does equally well as a mallet.
What size must the mallet be? Just make a mallet big enough so that it has enough mass to do the smashing you want it to do.
Step 2: Make the Design
Sketch the initial shape of the mallet on the block of wood with a pencil. This shape will be traced when we use the jigsaw.
Step 3: Cut Out the Initial Shape
Using the jigsaw, cut out the initial shape of the mallet. Try to make nice straight cuts, but a bit of crookedness will do no immediate harm; It will add to the 'natural look' of the hammer.
Step 4: Shape the Handle
After the initial shaping of the mallet, we now will shape the handle. Using the pencil, outline the shape of the handle you wish to get. Also, you may want to reshape the head a bit if your initial shaping was a bit too rough. Now use the jigsaw again to cut the handle into shape. After this you have something that looks like a mallet.
Step 5: Rounding the Handle
Roughly round the edges of the handle using any tool you find suitable. The goal is to give the handle a more ergonomic shape.
NOTE: Try to use a suitable tool for this. I won't tell which tool I used because it is way too dangerous (hint: it starts with a "J")
Step 6: Make It Nice and Smooth
Using an electric sander and a dremel with a rotary sanding tool, remove any bumps, scratches, dents etc. that want gone. Make the surface nice and smooth, especially the handle, and the use the sander to give it a nice finish.
You should now have a mallet looking and feeling nice and smooth. The texture of the wood should stand out nicely.
Step 7: Waterproof It
Naked, dry wood does not like to get wet. Stains and mold will result. So you will probably want to get a coat of waterproofing material on and in your new mallet. For that purpose I used Sno Seal and a hair dryer, because it was the only stuff I had laying around. Sno Seal is a waterproofing agent for leather shoes based on bees' wax. You may be better off using a mineral oil, but the wax seems to be working just fine for me.
To apply the wax I did the following:
- using the sponge in the pot of Sno Seal, bring on a layer of wax on the mallet
- use the hair dryer to properly heat the entire mallet for about 3 minutes
- watch the wax melt and soak into the mallet
- repeat about 4 times
- let the mallet cool down
After this, I had a mallet which was waterproof. I was afraid that the handle might be a bit slippery due to the wax, but fortunately it wasn't.
Step 8: Done
You may now put that lovely new piece of coffee firmware on top of your coffee machine, where it deserves to be. You're ready to whack the living coffee out of that portafilter again!