Introduction: Carved Finishing Mallet

About: I have been working with wood since I could stumble into the shop with my dad. About a year ago I moved into a house with no space for a full shop so I decided to take up all hand tool wood working. That start…

I recently made a joiner's mallet, but it has a hard face and can ding up work easily. I needed a mallet for finishing with a leather face and softer head. Much of this build is just like the last one (Here) with more carving and leather. Also, rather than building it out of firewood I am using a scrap of cherry that was perfect for this build. one can never have enough Mallets.

Tools Needed:

#4 Hand plane setup for smoothing:


Marking Gauge:

Panel saw:

Bevel up Low angle plane:

Round bottom spokeshave:

Marking knife:


Bit set:

Chisel Set:

Block Plane:

Carving V-Tool:

Card Scraper:

Supplies used:
Firewood: free craigslist, look for dried or something that has been sitting out for a year or more.

Scrap leather:

Boiled Linseed Oil:

Past Wax:

DAP Contact Adhesive:

Glue Stick:

Related videos:
Joiner's mallet from firewood

BLO and Past Wax

Step 1: Cut a Block for a Head

For a finishing mallet, you will want a softer head like Cherry or Douglas fir. Most of the time for me the best place to get stock is out of a piece of dried firewood. But in this case, I had a slab on hand that was the perfect size. It should be about 2.5-3" thick about 6" long and 4" tall. Cut one side and square it up then square the other sides off of that first reference piece.

Step 2: Cut the Handle

The handle should be about 14-18" long about 3/4-7/8" thick and 1 1/2" wide. mine is made out of a scrap of white oak I had in the shop but you can make it out of whatever you want. Then, start by drawing a line from one corner to a point 3/8" in on the other end. this will turn the handle into a long wedge that will self-hold itself in the head of the mallet. You can then use a plane to bring it down to that line.

Step 3: Cut Mortise for Handle

Start by placing the head on the handle with about 1 1/2" of the handle sticking up above the top. Next, use a marking knife to mark either side of the handle on the head. This will give you placement marks that tell you how wide the wedge of the handle will be at that point. With a square, draw those lines across the top and bottom of the mallet then place the handle on top o the mallet and draw its thickness. this will give you a rectangle on the top and bottom of the head that you can now cut out. Use a brace and bit to remove most of the waste then come in with a chisel and slowly cut back to those marks. Next, test the fit with the handle. you will see where more needs to come out. keep repeating this till you have a nice fit between the head and handle

Step 4: Shape the Head

I like to put a bit of an angle on both faces of the mallet so that it strikes flat on the work. I draw a line that starts in 3/8" at the bottom and goes up to the top corner. Then follow the line with a saw and cut it out. save these wedges, you will need them in the next step. After that, I can smooth it out with a low angle plane, and put a chamfer on all the corners. you may also want to shape the handle to feel good. For that, I use a spokeshave.

Step 5: Glue on Leather

I have some scraps of leather left over from other projects that will work perfectly. Whatever you have will work great.I apply the contact adhesive to both the head and the leather and let it set till it gets tacky. I use the wedges from the last step to clamp it in the vice and let it sit overnight. But while it is in the vise I think it is time to do a bit of carving.

Step 6: Carve the Sides

While it is in the vise I apply carving patterns with a glue stick. I like the Celtic weave and this was the perfect opportunity to put my logo on. for the carving, I use a V-tool and just follow the line on the paper. With light quick taps on the chisel, it is really easy. most people can pick this up in 20-30 minutes of work. For the weave, I run it along both sides of the thick black line. Then when done I use a card scraper to remove the pattern and smooth that side of the mallet for finish.

Step 7: FINISH IT!!!

I use a knife to remove the excess leather at about a 45-degree angle. then give the whole mallet a Boiled linseed and paste wax finish. I just love the way it feels in the hand! and there you go now you have a finishing mallet ready to lightly pound on things.

Build a Tool Contest 2017

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Build a Tool Contest 2017