Intro: The Big Pallet Mallet
I had some pallet wood left over from a greenhouse build and decided to do something silly with it, I found out however that it managed to stay together and was actually very useful for banging posts into the ground. I also think it could be used for timber framing as a "persuader" of sorts as well as just something to break things with!
Above is the quick version of the build but in this instructable I will direct you to parts one and two of the Big Pallet Mallet build which show it in more detail and of course more comprehensive instructions will follow. (Please note the amazon links in this post are affiliate links).
I hope you enjoy this instructable and please let me know what you think and shoot any comments at all my way, thank you.
Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed
- Clamps (lots of clamps, so, so many clamps)
- Glue (lots of glue, so, so much glue)
- Square, measure and pencil
- Plane or planer thicknesser
- Wood saw
- Wood chisel
- Mallet (a normal sized one)
- Varnish or finish of your choice
- Colouring pencils and black pen (for the logo, optional of course)
- Pallet wood (lots of pallet wood, so, so much pallet wood)
Step 2: Source, Cut and Plane Pallet Wood
I'm quite fortunate to have a fairly steady flow of pallet wood coming my way and as such I end up with a lot of offcuts from various projects. I helped my brother build a greenhouse last year and he had a ton of offcuts which when stacked together looked like a massive mallet head, and so the idea was born.
I started with 36 lengths of pallet wood around 40cm (15 3/4") long, these would make up the mallet head.
Then I sourced 3 pieces of pallet wood around 100cm (39 3/8") long, these would make up the handle.
I had to plane down the length of each piece of pallet wood to make it join as flush as possible to the next piece of pallet wood. I would say this is probably one of the most important steps and something I'm not particularly great at but I got there in the end. I use a smoothing plane not too dissimilar from this one:
Though I'm sure a planer thicknesser would make it an easier job!
Step 3: The First Glue Up
If you haven't guessed already there's a lot of gluing involved in this project.....a lot!
The first glue up is fairly simple, I stuck the mallet head pieces together in blocks of three and placed them onto some clamps side by side so they could be glued all at once.
For the handle I just used small hand clamps and made sure to try and keep as much even pressure across the piece as possible. It's worth doing this job with care and also coming back to check your clamps now and then as things can sometimes slip over time. Coming back to check them will ensure that you've got as flush a glue up as possible.
Step 4: The Second Glue Up
After waiting a day for the pieces to dry I took the clamps off and then had to glue the sides of the blocks of three to one another. This of course presented the next problem of having to make the sides as flat as possible so that a flush joint could be made. I took each block and flattened the sides with a jointer plane and then glued them together, once again in blocks of three.
Step 5: The Third Glue Up
I did mention there were a lot of glue ups right?
I tend to use Gorilla glue quite a lot, it's a fair price and I've never had a problem with it:
Once again, 24 hours after this glue up, I took the clamps off and had a look at the next step. This time the faces of the blocks had to be planed flat. These would then be glued together in two blocks of two. Each of these blocks when dried would be one half of the mallet head.
Step 6: Mallet Head Mortise and Glue Up
Another 24 hours had passed before unclamping once again. This time though I had to plane the two faces flat and create a mortise for the handle to slip into.
Since I know that the handle will come through the centre of the mallet I was able to cut a half mortise on each half of the head of the mallet. The width of my mortise at this point was around 6cm (3 15/16") and the depth in each half of the head was about 3cm (1 3/16"). When the two pieces came together that would make the mortise 6cm X 6cm (3 15/16" X 3 15/16").
I added a tapered part to the top of the mortise to accommodate the wedge that would come in through the top of the handle. I did unfortunately miscalculate the taper and so had to make two additional wedges which you'll see in a moment.
When gluing these I had to make sure that the mortise remained straight otherwise I'd be chipping away inside a long, deep dark hole to fit the handle inside.
Step 7: Finishing the Mallet Head and Handle
Another 24 hours after this glue up I then squared up and smoothed the head of the mallet. I just used my smoothing plane for this once again and also chamfered all the edges to give it a nicer finish. The mortise was in line and looking good so I proceeded to finish the handle.
With the handle in my bench vice I planed down its length and got it nice and smooth so my hands would slide along it easily without getting any splinters. I made the tenon just slightly longer than the mortise as is common when building a mallet. I already knew that the tenon on the handle had to be 6cm X 6cm (3 15/16" X 3 15/16") so some sawing and then paring with a nice, sharp chisel got it to its final size.
Step 8: Attaching the Handle and Final Glue Up
In order for the wedge to fit inside the handle I had to cut a slot down the handle, I decided to cut to a depth of around 8cm (3 1/8").
At this point I should be telling you that I cut only one wedge to go down the centre of the slot. As mentioned earlier however I completely messed up the taper in the mortise and as such had to cut two more wedges to fit into the gaps either side of the handle.
For the wedges I used some hardwood from a pallet. It's important to use a harder wood for the wedges as you don't want them to split on the way in, they have to take a bit of a beating!
I used a big tenon saw to cut them, something I always do when I want a straight cut as the spine of a tenon saw keeps the saw blade straight. This is the exact saw I use:
After all the wedges were cut I covered the tenon of the handle in glue and slid it through the mallet head mortise, making sure that the bottom of the mallet head was flush against the shoulder of the tenon. Placing a little glue on the central wedge I slowly tapped it into place and then did the same to the two additional outer wedges. Its important to take this part slowly and listen to what's happening in the wood. Give each wedge a couple of firm and controlled taps each until each wedge feels as if its part of the mallet and no longer loose.
Step 9: Optional Design and Smashing of Things
Once again, a day after the glue up you can cut off the protruding pieces of the handle at the top of the mallet and sand and smooth and plane to your hearts desire. I wanted to put my logo onto the side just to see how it would look and also to try an experiment with pencil crayons. They came out looking ok and in the end I sealed it all with a couple of coats of varnish.
After this I decided to smash a few things with it! I was of the opinion that it would break when I gave it some hard swings but it actually survived. I wouldn't really recommend using pallet wood for something like this if you were expecting to have it as a life long tool as pallet wood is generally poor grade wood and as such it is prone to weaknesses. I just wanted to show that you could, if you wanted to, make something interesting and functional from pallet wood.
I just hope it lasts a few years of smashing things!