Many wooden mallets are too light for their size. Feeding your mallet with linseed (flaxseed) oil increases its weight, making it easier to use. It also makes it more durable, and stops absorption of water from the atmosphere that might otherwise damage or distort the mallet over time. And on top of this, it make the mallet beautiful to look at, adding a patina that makes an otherwise identikit shop-bought tool thoroughly unique!
Step 1: Gather Materials
You will need:
- A mallet. Kind of hard to hack a mallet without one!
- Boiled linseed oil also known as flaxseed oil in some parts of the world
- White spirit also known as mineral spirits in some parts of the world
- Container to hold the oil - disposable or inert (glass)
- Time. Annoying if you are impatient, but unavoidable
Step 2: Clean Your Mallet
First, weigh your mallet! Just because it is always satisfying to know exactly how much heavier it gets during the process. `
thoroughly clean your mallet - particularly if you are using a store-bought mallet. First, clean it down with water then use white (mineral) spirit to make sure it is completely clean
Then, allow the head of the mallet to sit for a few minutes in a little white (mineral) spirit. This will allow the pores in the wood to open up, and as it evaporates it will help the wood to absorb the oil through capillary action.
Step 3: Soak in Linseed Oil
Pour some linseed (flaxseed) oil into your container. Add a small amount of white (mineral) spirit - this will evaporate quickly but will assist in the first take-up of the oil. Stand the head of the mallet into the oil bath. Don't completely immerse the mallet in oil. When the oil 'dries' it is actually polymerising, a chemical reaction which requires oxygen. So without oxygen present, the mallet will not absorb and retain the oil properly.
And wait some more.
Get a little bored and fiddle with the mallet just in case it might speed things up.
Occasionally you might want to top up the oil in the container, just to feel like you are doing something.
After a day or two, you will see oil bubbling to the top of the mallet as it has made its way all the way through the grain of the wood. You will probably also see an area where the mallet handle has stopped the linseed oil from penetrating all the way through. So now, you need to turn the mallet over and repeat the process on the other side of the mallet.
Step 4: Dry and Use!
You can repeat this process for several weeks if you choose - the longer you do, the heavier the mallet will become. Our mallet was left for around three days. In this time it became noticeably heavier, and, as you can see, absorbed a large amount of oil.
We then oiled the handle just to make it match. The oil dries quickly (because we did not fully immerse the mallet - if we had, it would take weeks or even months). At this point the mallet is finished and ready for use!