Finally had a day not consumed with meetings, doctors appointments, orthodontist appointments, parent teacher meetings or other obligations. So I went into the shop for some creative therapy. Been awhile...
When I stopped by woodcraft the other day to look around I found this chunk of Purple Heart in the bargain bin for 4 bucks! It had a split on one side so I guess they figured they couldn’t use it for anything. Purple Heart is very hard and very expensive. Well I cut the split part out of the side and I present,
Bang! Bang! Maxwells Purple Hammer.
Step 1: The Layout.
I used a small tack hammer I liked as a guide. I set it on the Purple Heart block and made all the layout marks. Once I had those, off to the bandsaw I went.
Step 2: Bandsaw Work.
I was careful to remove the material in as large a section as possible. Purple Heart is not cheap and I wanted to save as much of the material as possible. I’m pretty sure I can use what’s left over for knife handle or something. Think that would be pretty awesome.
Once the cutting was complete, it’s off to the lathe.
Step 3: Lathe Work.
This part is pretty straightforward. Set your material in the lathe and begin turning. The one part of the step you have to be very careful on is the circumference of the top part of the handle. You’ll want to use a fostner bit to drill your handle hole. This will require the head of the handle be no smaller then the hole you’ll be drilling into the mallet head. Make a mark on the handle to denote the depth of the hole you plan to drill. Measure your fostner bit and be sure to not remove too much of the handle material. Once that is set you can simply turn the rest of the mallet as you see fit.
When it comes to drilling the hole, you can’t do it by hand. Purple Heart is very dense. After a couple of fruitless attempts, I had to wrap the head in cloth and clamp it down in my drill press. Pretty sure I ruined my fostner bit too. I got through it though and totally worth it. Sorry, no pics of that step.
Step 4: Leather Wrapped Handle.
When I had the head clamped down in the drill press I noticed the handle wasn’t exactly a great fit for my hand. I guess I made a mistake using that small tack hammer as my mock up. I came up with the idea of using some leather scrap I have to wrap the handle. Once I made all my marks and squared up a piece leather, I used a leather punch to make all the necessary holes. I then soaked it in water and went to work finishing up the mallet on the lathe. When it came time to do the leather wrap, I applied wood glue to it so I was sure it would never slip. I then left it clamped into the lathe while I did the wrap and that was a huge help. One thing I did learn during this was I need some leather stitching needles. It was super tough attempting to feed the leather stitching through the holes. I overcame this part by quickly mixing up some 5 min epoxy and with latex gloves on, spread it all over the ends of the leather stitching. I then fixed them in a curved position and let them dry. This made the ends of the stitching stiff and easy to thread thru the holes. Worked like a champ.
Step 5: Cutting the Head Off...
Once I had completed the head with some nice grooves cut into each end for aesthetics, I went thru progressive sanding and then a coat of boiled linseed oil. Then off to the bandsaw to cut the head off of the handle. This part is a little tricky though. I wanted the head of the mallet to be flawless. One end of the mallet head had a hole from the lathe, the other had the handle cut off. I overcame these flaws by taking the head over to the chop saw and cutting a blade width off each end of the head. Cutting a fairly small and round object on a chop saw is not the smartest idea. I was careful and made a clean cut to each end. Did some more resending and finishing to what I just cut and then gently tapped the mallet handle into the hole with some epoxy in place. Clamped, then ate lunch.
Step 6: Final.
When the mallet was complete, I noticed that it seemed a bit unbalanced. Not that I couldn’t just deal with that, I had an idea. A brass pommel. I had a bar stock of brass left over from a knife build. I cut a small square slightly larger than the base of the handle. I then marked center and drilled a countersunk hole through it. Once that was completed, I gloved up headed to the grinder to make it sort of rounded. After that, I affixed the brass pommel to the end of the handle with a screw and did all the finish work on a belt sander. I did sand slightly into the handle as I was turning it to get them equal and perfect. That was easily fixed with some light sanding and another coat of oil and george’s clubhouse wax. Pro tip: glove up while you’re sanding the brass pommel. It gonna get very hot. Wish I had thought of that before I burned myself. I only took the one pic while making the pommel as it was about time to go get the kids. Sorry about that.
Well this little project only took me one afternoon. I started around 9:30 and finished at 2:30. It’s a beautiful Purple Heart wooden mallet that will last me a lifetime. Probably my kids lifetime too. Hope you enjoyed this build and good luck on your projects.