Wooden Mallet - A.K.A. the Coffee-Puck Smasher





Introduction: Wooden Mallet - A.K.A. the Coffee-Puck Smasher

How to build a wooden mallet in one piece from a block of wood. End purpose of this tool: Coffee-puck smashing. This mallet is built to look 'natural', which means the measurements and the wood work are mostly done by eye. Although sanded and waxed, the mallet will retain a rough look. I like it that way, because it will get damaged anyway when smashing coffee pucks.

As a coffee lover, I've got coffee hardware to match. 27 kilograms of chrome coated coffee extraction goodness on the kitchen sink, baby. We're not talking drip coffee. No, no. This coffee gets made a 10 atmosphere. Es-press-o. The coffee grinds remaing in puck, after having created a tasty cup of coffee, usually need a fair amount of convincing (smashing, hitting, whacking) to drop out of the portafilter. Some people have a so-called knock-box for that. Not the docter Seus type, but a shiny metal box, sometimes placed under the espresso machine, with a rubber-coated bar in it, on which to whack the portafilter until the coffee grinds drop out.

As I have fairly limited space in the kitchen, I prefer not to have yet another big kitchen utensil for coffee making in there. So for removing coffee grinds from espresso portafilters, I have been using a wooden mallet. My so called coffee-puck smasher. This small walk through shows you the steps I made to create a replacement mallet for my old and smashed-to-pieces coffee-puck smasher.

The size of the mallet described here: 5.5 x 10 x 17 cm.


- jigsaw with wood blades
- electric sanding machine
- dremel with cylindrical wood sander
- pencil
- eraser
- small ruler
- a hair dryer (or anything able to blow hot air)
- bees' wax / sno seal / mineral oil
- a block of strong wood big enough to make a mallet from (10 x 6 x 15 cm. or bigger)

Step 1: Preparations; Find Wood

To make the mallet, you need wood. First decide how big you want the mallet to be and then find some wood big enough. The block I used was about 10 x 5.5 x 25 cm for a mallet of about 10x 5.5 10 x 17 cm. I used an old support beam from my neighbours house, which was removed during the renovation of his house. It was going to be fire wood, but it does equally well as a mallet.

What size must the mallet be? Just make a mallet big enough so that it has enough mass to do the smashing you want it to do.

Step 2: Make the Design

Sketch the initial shape of the mallet on the block of wood with a pencil. This shape will be traced when we use the jigsaw.

Step 3: Cut Out the Initial Shape

Using the jigsaw, cut out the initial shape of the mallet. Try to make nice straight cuts, but a bit of crookedness will do no immediate harm; It will add to the 'natural look' of the hammer.

Step 4: Shape the Handle

After the initial shaping of the mallet, we now will shape the handle. Using the pencil, outline the shape of the handle you wish to get. Also, you may want to reshape the head a bit if your initial shaping was a bit too rough. Now use the jigsaw again to cut the handle into shape. After this you have something that looks like a mallet.

Step 5: Rounding the Handle

Roughly round the edges of the handle using any tool you find suitable. The goal is to give the handle a more ergonomic shape.

NOTE: Try to use a suitable tool for this. I won't tell which tool I used because it is way too dangerous (hint: it starts with a "J")

Step 6: Make It Nice and Smooth

Using an electric sander and a dremel with a rotary sanding tool, remove any bumps, scratches, dents etc. that want gone. Make the surface nice and smooth, especially the handle, and the use the sander to give it a nice finish.

You should now have a mallet looking and feeling nice and smooth. The texture of the wood should stand out nicely.

Step 7: Waterproof It

Naked, dry wood does not like to get wet. Stains and mold will result. So you will probably want to get a coat of waterproofing material on and in your new mallet. For that purpose I used Sno Seal and a hair dryer, because it was the only stuff I had laying around. Sno Seal is a waterproofing agent for leather shoes based on bees' wax. You may be better off using a mineral oil, but the wax seems to be working just fine for me.

To apply the wax I did the following:
- using the sponge in the pot of Sno Seal, bring on a layer of wax on the mallet
- use the hair dryer to properly heat the entire mallet for about 3 minutes
- watch the wax melt and soak into the mallet
- repeat about 4 times
- let the mallet cool down

After this, I had a mallet which was waterproof. I was afraid that the handle might be a bit slippery due to the wax, but fortunately it wasn't.

Step 8: Done

You may now put that lovely new piece of coffee firmware on top of your coffee machine, where it deserves to be. You're ready to whack the living coffee out of that portafilter again!



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21 Discussions

Nice! I never thought of using a mallet for coffee making, even thoug it is usually tricky to remove the puck of the portafilter.

From my side, just a couple of thoughts:
Cutting your mallet form a single piece of wood yields a head with cross grain, which makes it more prone to breaking. In your old mallet it is clearly seen that is has split along the grain (i.e, across the head of the mallet) in one of the sides. Making it in two pieces, as it is traditionally made, would expose the end grain in the hitting surface of the mallet, making it more resistant and durable.
Other hint: your mallet seems to be made of pine, which is an easily available and easy to work wood, but on the other side is light and soft. Making it in a harder wood, such as oak, maple or beech would make it heavier (that is, more "convicing" for the puck of coffee) and durable. For ultimate resistance and waterproofness, make it in boxwood (buxus sempervirens: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buxus_sempervirens).

2 replies

I agree, two pieces mallet for best results . The handle doesen't need to be so hard. A harder wood than pine would be better but I must consider that the support beam was worked at least ten years before and so well seasoned. I agree with the boxus option.Precious boxwood hammers were in use in europe in shoes works until 50 years ago or so. Not so easy to find in that dimension because it is a little tree or a big bush and grows very slowly. I suggest also olive or walnut wood both heavy, hard and easy to work. I had the teeth of my bandsaw damaged by boxwood, well that was an unproper use of the bandsaw.

I'm trying to understand this correctly....

So AFTER you get the mallet made, carved, etc., you put this Hiking Shoe Water Proofer on it to keep the wood from drying out & cracking??

And you can re-apply this as needed?

am I understanding this correctly?

2 replies

Splendid old school ice crusher too. Sew up a canvas (Lewis) bag and you're good to go!

I actually built a similar mallet for myself out of a 2x4 - only mine was for smacking chisels and other tools around the garage. Especially those that I didn't want trashed up.

Nicely Done

If you were to use a piece of a fence post, (not treated)  you would avoid the cross grain situation as noted.
Wrap the result in rawhide as suggested and you would get a nice coffee hammer with no corners to damage the coffee filter.

Merry Christmas & Happy Coffee Making.


This is a beautiful hammer, CARVED FROM A SINGLE PIECE OF WOOD! Good job!

I'll throw in my two cents, just in case it helps someone.

In my experience, food-grade mineral oil does not absorb as well as olive oil. Food grade paraffin was does not absorb as well as bee's wax. None of these finishing techniques are very water-proof, but they are pretty good, and you can reapply them easily.

The best way I have found to make a food-safe non-glossy finish is with 1 part bee's wax 9 parts olive oil. Melt this in a frying pan, then cast it into pucks in a silicone cupcake pan. You have the right mixture when it is solid at room temp, but will melt in your fingers when you rub the puck. You can smear this stuff all over wooden things, then melt it over a hot gas stove, or with a hair dryer (I suppose you can leave it in the sun.) I even used this recipe as a bullet lubricant for my muzzleloader. In that application, the lube went rancid, so I switched to 1 part paraffin to 9 parts mineral oil. But other than that, the bee's wax seemed best.

1 reply

That's interesting. I'll have to try that one out. I initially did want to use olive oil, but after looking up some info, I noticed many people indicating the fact that it will or might go rancid. I've no idea what the actual effect of that would be (smell/mold?) but that is the reason I went for the alternative of Hiking Shoe Water Proofer. I'll remember your tip for my next wood project. Thanks!

TO extend the life of your hammer (or even to bring back your old one) wrap the head in rawhide. Its durable and adds structural strength to the hammer and protects the striking surface and the surface struck. A lot of wood working mallets are nothing more than a roll of rawhide on a handle.

Easiest way is to get a large rawhide chew toy from the local dollar store or equivalent. Soak in hot water until soft and pliable and then stretch it tight over the head of the mallet, tack in place just to hold it until dries. Let dry and then smite away.

1 reply

Heey, I really like that idea! So much so, that I'll try it out, because the wood does eventually give way to all the portafilter violence, as with my previous mallet.

Awesome! We rented the movie "Thor" a few days ago so when I saw this, coffee did not cross my mind. So many practical uses for a hammer ....like Whack A Mole.

I usually just whack the portafilter with the filter holder. but this looks cooler.

I love it, the "War Hammer' of the coffee Gods. Now all you need to do is get some shark skin to wrap the handle and some nasty big rivets for the pommel. Thor would be proud.

I like building replacements for my handmade tools, it's satisfying to know something I've created needs replacing after a good life of servicing.