Picture of Wooden Mallet on a Lathe
​Wood lathes are pretty cool. You can turn an old log into something useful and have a lot of fun doing it.

This is a little project showing how to cut down a lot, turn it to a blank for turning, and then do some very basic shaping so that you end up with a wooden mallet you can use for chiseling, leather stamping, or popping bubbles.

Disclaimer: I don't know much about wood turning; I just have fun with it. I'd be glad to hear tips from the experts out there.

I also don't own a lathe, so I made it at techshop (, which has a nice wood lathe and tools to borrow.
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Step 1: Find Yourself a Log

Picture of Find Yourself a Log
Check the "free stuff" ads on craigslist. People are getting rid of old wood / logs / lumber all the time.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Knots / burls / etc. aren't necessarily a bad thing. You get some pretty interesting grains if you use something with a lot of knots.
  • Green wood cuts more easily, but it can crack when it dries if you aren't careful. The risk is worth the fun of making easy, smooth cuts, in my mind. 
  • Rotted sections / voids will make your life harder, but may lead to a more interesting final piece.
This log is a piece of green mulberry (I believe) from a guy who had just cut down a tree in his backyard.

Step 2: Cut the Log to Make a Blank

Picture of Cut the Log to Make a Blank
A "blank" is a piece of wood that you can turn on a lathe.

Cut the log so that it has flat ends you can attach to your lathe. It's also a good idea to balance it as much as possible. Cut off big bumps that you're planning to get rid of anyway. Go for the biggest axisymmetric shape you can get.
JorikOrdelmans made it!10 months ago

Nice work and a very clear Instructable!

This is my attempt at a mallet on the lathe. It was my first turning project and I think it came out pretty nice. I haven't finished the wood yet.

solobo (author)  JorikOrdelmans10 months ago

Sweet, looks awesome!

thingy11 months ago

Looks great. My only suggestion would be to ease the edge of the mallet at the top. The 90 degree corner would chip out after a while. You may have done this but I couldn't see in the pictures.

solobo (author)  thingy11 months ago
Thanks! Yeah, I did a tiny little chamfer, but probably could have done more.
SlickSqueegie11 months ago

It looks nice... Do you realize you made a mallet out of a beautiful piece of "Burl"??

solobo (author)  SlickSqueegie11 months ago
audreyobscura11 months ago

Beautiful! And great technique!

solobo (author)  audreyobscura11 months ago