Mallet in Under 1 Hour

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Introduction: Mallet in Under 1 Hour

A friend of mine, Adam Mackey challenged me to make a woodworking mallet in under one hour as part of his One Hour Builds Challenge. Before I get into the project I want to stipulate what the rules are of Adam's One Hour Builds Challenge. First, safety is the number one priority. Regardless of the time limit everything must be done in a safe way. Second, time spent waiting for glue to dry does not count towards the hour. Third, time spent pulling out a tool (say from under the workbench) doesn't count, but time spent setting the tool does count (i.e. adjusting the fence on your table saw).

Knowing these rules I set out to make a wooden mallet from some scrap walnut, cherry and maple I had laying around my garage. Throughout the pictures (and video) you will see a countdown clock running in the background. This helped me stay on time and helps you follow along. In this post I will show you how I did it so you can use up some of those scraps to build something useful, even if you have limited time available in the workshop.

Don't forget to check out the video above and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Supplies:

Below are links to tools and materials I used in this article. It is either the exact tool/supply or something very close.

- Scrap wood - I used some cherry, walnut and maple, but any hardwood will work.

- Table saw

- Angle protractor

- Bandsaw

- Thickness planer

- Drill press

- Forstner bits

- Wood glue

- Sash clamps

- Steel bbs

- Epoxy

- Belt sander

- Router (mounted in a router table makes it easier)

- 45 degree chamfer bit

- Random orbit sander

- Sanding discs

- Hammer/Mallet (Ironic that you need a mallet to make a mallet, but I guess you can always buy it and then not make one )

- Finish (I used Watco Teak Oil, but any good finish will work)

Note: The links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Cutting the Maple Outside Pieces

I went through my scrap bin and found some suitable boards. I knew I wanted to have some contrasting colours, so I first grabbed some hard maple which has a nice white colour to it.

First I cut it to length at 7" using my table saw miter gague. Then I set my fence to 3" and cut two pieces to width.

Step 2: Cutting the Walnut Inside Pieces

As I said earlier, I wanted some contrast in the wood, and what contrasts well with maple? Walnut of course. So I grabbed a small bit of walnut I had and cut it to 3" wide on the table saw.

I then set up my angle marking protrator to 2 degrees and marked two lines on the wood with the longer part measuring at 3" and the shorter part approximate 2 7/8". I went over to the bandsaw and set the miter gauge at 2 degrees and followed the lines. This 2 degree cut will allow wedges to be installed into the handle to hold the handle in snugly.

Step 3: Cutting the Cherry Handle Piece

For a handle I wanted a bit of scrap that was between 15" and 18" long. I happened across some cherry that was 17" and grabbed it. I then threw it on the planer and planed it down to the exact same thickness as the walnut from step 2. In the end it ended up being approximately 15/16" but anything from 3/4" to 1 1/4" would work as long as you make it the same as the inside pieces from step 2.

I then cut it to the width on the table saw, with my fence set at 1 1/2".

Step 4: Drilling Cavities

Too add some weight to the mallet I drilled out cavities with the intention of adding steel BBs.

I grabbed my 1 1/2" forstner bit and chucked it up into my drill press. I love using forstner bits as they make some beautiful shavings. I drilled in the center of two walnut pieces.

If you don't want to add weight, this step can be skipped.

Safety tip: When using large forstner bits make sure you have a firm grip on the work piece. If you are unsure if you can hold it, then you should probably clamp it to the drill press table.

Step 5: Glue 1/2 of the Head Together

In order to fill the cavities with BBs I needed to have the inner pieces glued to one side of the outer piece. So I took out my trust wood glue and spread it all over the walnut pieces. I then clamped everything together and let it cure (for about an hour)

Note, when I clamped it together I put both outer pieces in the clamps. This was to help ensure alignment of the walnut inner pieces.

Step 6: Adding Epoxy and BBs

There are two options here, you can either add the BBs and then glue everything together and you would have a deadblow mallet, or you can do what I did and epoxy the BBs in place.

I first unclamped the work piece and then took it over to my workbench. I grabbed an old sour cream container to mix the epoxy. I mixed up way more than I thought I needed (which of course, ended up not being enough). I poured some epoxy into the cavities, then steel BBs, then more epoxy, then more BBs, and continued like that until the cavities were full.

I left it to cure overnight.

I ended up overfilling the cavities a bit, but that was easily fixed by taking my belt sander to the surface until it was flush.

Step 7: Gluing the Other Half of the Head

I spread some wood glue on the mallet head and clamped it together. It was just that simple.

If you are making a dead blow mallet, it might be a bit more tricky to ensure that the BBs don't fall out when you are trying to clamp it together. Since I didn't do that, I have no tips for you!

Step 8: Trimming the Mallet Head

After every glue up in my life there has been at least one board that miraculously moved even though it was clamped tight. To fix that I went to the table saw and squared everything up. First I set the fence to just a bit smaller than 3" and ran the head through.

Then I set me miter gauge to 2 degree as I also decided that the ends should have a bit of an angle to them.

I ran both sides through taking off the bare minimum amount of material.

Note: be very careful with this procedure as there is a lot of blade exposed and it is very easy to get cut and loose a finger or worse.If your saw came with a riving knife or a blade guard, you should make sure to have those things installed.

Step 9: Adding and Chamfer and Sanding

I put a 45 degree chamfer bit in my router table. I then added a small chamfer to all sides of the mallet head.

I sanded the head using my random orbit sander from 80 to 180 grit.

Step 10: Cutting the Tennon in the Handle

The smaller hole in the mallet head should be 1" if everything went according to plan, but because I live in the real world I measured it first. I got lucky this time and it was exactly 1".

I marked a line around the handle at 3 1/2" from the top.

I then set up a fence on my bandsaw to make the tennon. I set the fence 1 1/4" away from the blade and that allowed me to cut 1/4" off each side. I only cut as far as the line.

Then I took the fence away and cut the remainder of the waste by following the line.

Step 11: Prepare Handle for Wedges

In order to add wedges to the handle there needs to be somewhere for the wedges to go. I first marked 2 spots at the 1/3 of the way across and 1/4" from the tennon line. Then I drilled 1/8" holes on the marks. These holes will act as reliefs for the handle to help it to not crack when the wedges are hammered in.

I lined up my fence so that the blade would be at the lined up with the drill holes. I first cut one side, then flipped the handle over and cut the other side. I made sure to stop once I had reached the relief holes.

Step 12: Shaping and Sanding the Handle

In order to make the handle feel better in my hand, it needed some shaping. I first tried to just add a round-over on the router table, but that was not enough. So I took out my belt sander, flipped it over and clamped it to my workbench. I used my belt sander to remove material from the handle. As I removed material I kept checking to see how it was feeling. I didn't have a real good idea of what I wanted, I just knew that it needed to be thinner so that it fit better in my hands. If you have larger hands, it might work without thinning, and if you have smaller hands you might need to shape it even more!

After all the shaping, I sanded the handle from 80 grit to 180

Step 13: Cutting Wedges

I grabbed some of the leftover maple from step 1 and cut some simple triangle wedges using my bandsaw.

Tip: make sure you orient the wood so that grain of the wood runs the same direction as the length of the wedges. (which is not what I did here) That makes them less likely to break when you install them in the end of the mallet handle.

Step 14: Attaching the Handle

Attaching the handle was a simple, just add lots of glue, then slide it into place. Don't forget to get glue in the spots where the wedges are going to go!

Step 15: Adding Wedges

When adding the wedges, I first spread some glue on them and then pushed them into place. The ironic part about building a mallet is that you need a mallet (or at least a hammer) to ensure the wedges are seated correctly. I just had to tap away until they won't move anymore.

I let the glue cure and then cut off the protruding bits of handle and wedge using my bandsaw.

Step 16: Finish Sanding

The spot where the handle and wedges had been cut off needed more work than the rest of the mallet, so I started at 120 grit. Then I went over the mallet again with 180 grit sandpaper on my random orbit sander. If I wasn't under a time limit I would have gone to a higher grit (like 240) but I was afraid I didn't have enough time.

For parts of the handle I had to hand sand as my sander couldn't reach everywhere.

Step 17: Adding Finish

My go to finish is Watco Teak Oil. Mainly because it is easy to use but also because I bought it one time for an outdoor project and I had lots leftover.

As with any good finish the first thing to do is smash it with your newly finished mallet. That gets the juices really flowing. Then I opened it up and wiped on the finish. After about 15 minutes, I wiped off any excess. Normally I would repeat this step, but as I mentioned before, I was under a time crunch and didn't want to go over the time limit. It ended up that I had 4 minutes to spare, but I wasn't willing to risk it!

Step 18: Enjoy Your Mallet!

The best part of every project, pretending to be Thor, God of Thunder! But in reality, you now have a wooden mallet that you can be proud of and it only took you less than an hour to build it. You will find many uses for the mallet and if you want to see this mallet in action you can check out on of my latest YouTube videos where I made a beer caddy. I used the mallet to hammer in some wooden dowels. Click here

If you watch the video at the top of the page you will see that I tried to throw and spin the mallet in the air and then catch it. I say tried, because I was eventually not successful and I dropped my brand new mallet on the hard concrete floor, dinging it up pretty bad. I suggest you don't do this unless you are a professional juggler.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy following me on other social media:
YouTube

Instagram

If you make one, I'd love to see pictures and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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    18 Discussions

    0
    throbscottle
    throbscottle

    12 days ago

    I made a mallet similar to this, over 20 years ago. The wood came from an old sofa, I think it's sycamore. Not hard enough. No power tools, nothing really accurate to work with. It has a loose fit handle that wedges in, very traditional. The wedge isn't accurate so the head drops down onto my hand occasionally. Still using it! Don't really do woodwork these days though.
    Anyway, nice work!

    0
    LukeM105
    LukeM105

    13 days ago

    Nice mallet! Just remember that when you teach how to build something, you are also teaching how to use machines safely... or unsafely. Accidents on the table saw often have life changing consequences.

    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 13 days ago

    Thanks, i agree, which is why I included safety tips in the article. If you would like to point out something specific that you feel I did that is unsafe, I would love to hear it. Either I am unaware of the safety issue (and can correct it for the future), or I can help to explain why I did it the way I did. πŸ˜€

    0
    LukeM105
    LukeM105

    Reply 13 days ago

    I was looking at the pictures and did not see the safety notes. I apologize. I appreciate your openness and don't want to come across as self-righteous in any way. Safety is something we all have to continuously work towards and help each other with. Here is a link to a document that I use all the time that you might find interesting: https://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/resdocs/headsup.pdf

    Sometimes knowing the rules also helps with knowing the risks and having better judgement when breaking the rules. Wearing loose clothing is a good example since on a construction site it is often necessary to wear a jacket or sweater when working in the cold and using machinery. A worker might need to use a guard or keep extra distance or have a coworker help or remove the clothing for a particular operation to minimize the risk. Two things I tell my students: 1. Somebody paid the price for every safety rule, so learn from their mistake rather than your own. 2. You might get away with something ten thousand times, but you don't know which time you won't. I know an instructor who permanently removed the guard off the table saw. Over his thirty-five year career, three of his students lost fingers and another cut the nerves and tendons in his wrist on the table saw.

    Since you asked for specifics, here are a few things that caught my eye. Hopefully they correspond to the pictures I added.

    1. You did mention that it is a lot of exposed blade on the table saw and that you recommended that people use their guards etc. The amount of blade, in addition to how close your fingers are to the blade with no push stick, especially with no guard, splitter or anti-kickback teeth, makes the cut in this first picture something I would never do or recommend that anyone do no matter how experienced they are. I do like how you are standing to the side, though. :)

    2. Set the band saw guide/guard close (a few mm) to the work piece. I use extra pieces of wood next to the fence that are machined square and match the height of the workpiece to allow the guard to be lowered close to the stock. Also, remove jewelry (rings and bracelets) and watches.

    3. Ripping stock that is too short and wider than it is long. You would be better off cross cutting that piece on a cross-cut sled and might even have to clamp it or screw it to the sled.

    4. Your pushstick is quite stubby for this operation, which is why you needed to use it to hold the workpiece down. I am curious about how you were able to finish that cut since you are pushing the work forward outside the blade and only down inside the blade. You are very luck if that did not slip out from under the push stick and kick back. There is another style of push stick that I would describe as the profile of a dress shoe from the side. It has a heel and a longer nose allowing you to push forward and hold the workpiece down at the same time.

    5. The factors to consider when drilling are workpiece size, drill bit size and material hardness. That is a large bit and a relatively small workpiece in comparison. The material is not as hard as metal, but being hardwood, it's not that soft, either. I know you made a safety note about using a clamp, which is great. I am surprised you are able to hold it without it spinning. However, if it does spin, it likely won't cause too bad an injury. So, then it becomes a judgement call. Personally, I would clamp it or use a jig to hold it to avoid any risk of injury, and I would teach others to do the same.

    This did take me a long time to write, but I think it was worth it. I hope that you will see it as helpful.


    "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

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    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 13 days ago

    Thank you for taking the time to respond, I do appreciate that you took a second look at the notes to see that I did mention some safety precautions. I will explain some of my choices below as looking at pictures sometimes hides what is actually happening.

    1. In the picture you can see that my pinky finger is on the other side of the fence, I use this to keep my hand locked away from the blade. I do feel that I have more control when using my hand, so when there is sufficient amount of wood I use my hand. I read your linked document and they recommend ~4" I have always operated under a 2" rule. I guess that's how things change over time. I do agree that I probably should have had the splitter installed on my saw, (which also includes the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls) but I often remove it for videoing so that the camera can capture what is actually happening. I honestly wish I had a saw with a riving knife, that would solve this safety concern (hopefully one day) I also agree that this cut is the type of thing that you really need to be present for and understand the dangers.

    2. The blade guide on the bandsaw is actually lowered as far as possible in this instance. The fence gets in the way of lowering it any further. That being said, in step 2 it was also not lowered, without the reason of the fence. mea culpa.

    3. I can see your point on this one. (The material is actually longer than it is wide. It was 7" long and 6.75" wide, but I feel like that is arguing semantics and not helpful) That being said, I do not have a cross cut sled (it is on the list of projects to do) but in hindsight, it probably would have been safer to use the miter gauge.

    4. I have pushblocks that are shaped like the ones you mention, but I prefer these ones as I feel they are safer. They keep my hands further away from the blade at all times and using two of them (although not pictured here) is my preferred method. I will refer you to this video which I think does a better job at explaining why they are safer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdIQY_7T26k

    5. I'm glad we are on the same page on this one.

    Thanks for sharing that safety tips sheet. It is interesting to see what is being taught to kids these days compared to when I was in shop class. I do appreciate you taking the time to reply and I will end with one lesson that I always carry with me. If it doesn't feel safe, don't do it! (even if you saw it on the internet)

    0
    LukeM105
    LukeM105

    Reply 12 days ago

    Thanks for the reply. That's very interesting about the pushsticks. I will definitely check out the video.

    I understand that the bandsaw fence is in the way of lowering the blade in number 2. I tried to describe using another piece of wood between the fence and the workpiece as an auxiliary fence, but it was difficult to do with words. My fence is quite tall so I use an additional piece of wood that is shorter so I can lower the blade to the height of the workpiece. Sometimes I put a clamp behind it so it doesn't slide as I push the workpiece.

    Take care.

    β€œAs iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 12 days ago

    Ahhh, I understand your comment now. I was taught that the guide was mainly used for curved cuts to prevent the blade from twisting and potentially snapping. But i think this has evolved over time and the blade guide has changed to be more of a safety feature by limiting the amount of blade that is visible.

    1
    cdstudioNH
    cdstudioNH

    16 days ago

    Nice. I need a new one, after stupidly using mine to pound in things I shouldn't have.

    0
    JohnC430
    JohnC430

    Reply 14 days ago

    if the surface of yours is just chipped just cut off the chipped part. of course if it is totally broken then... make a new one. I am sure you can make one in half the time and without the epoxy filling if you just think about it and build it differently.

    0
    cdstudioNH
    cdstudioNH

    Reply 13 days ago

    OMG...I am going down in the shop tomorrow to check...I bet I can!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 13 days ago

    That's true John, you could probably do it much quicker!

    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 15 days ago

    Now you just need to find some time in the workshop πŸ˜€ can't wait to see your finished mallet πŸ‘

    1
    JohnC430
    JohnC430

    14 days ago

    Nice! It is so beautiful that you seem to be inhibited to actually strike something with it for fear of marring the surface. :):):)

    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 13 days ago

    Thanks! If you watch the video you can see that i marred it up trying to juggle it πŸ˜“ but the best part of making your own tools is that you can always make another one!

    1
    Khovet1
    Khovet1

    14 days ago

    Nice. I melt lead for various purposes....black powder ammo, fishing weights, etc. I would fill the cavaties with lead cookies. But the design is great and looks good!

    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 14 days ago

    Thanks 😁That would be a good way to add weight too! Because lead us higher weight per cubic inch, of you do that I'd make the holes half the size πŸ˜€

    1
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    18 days ago

    This is so much fun!! I liked seeing the timer tick down :D

    0
    TheGrantAlexander
    TheGrantAlexander

    Reply 18 days ago

    Thanks! It added a bit of stress to the build, but in a good way 😁