Wooden Mallet Using Dowels




Introduction: Wooden Mallet Using Dowels

About: I'm a woodworker/maker on YouTube

The traditional way to create a wooden mallet is to use a wedge shape in the head that the shaft slides into. This is a great method but I wanted to try something a little different.

This method secures the head to the shaft using dowels instead of the wedge. The idea is that the strength of the head assembly is only important when transferring the head from one point to the point of impact. As the mallet head strikes an object all the energy is transferred to the head and the shaft is no longer "holding" the head in place.

With that concept in mind there's no need to make an elaborate wedge shape to hold the head to the shaft. In this Instructable I attach the head using dowels.

Step 1: Cut and Glue the Pieces of Wood

You'll need 2 pieces the full width of the mallet head and then another 2 pieces that, when added together with the shaft, make up the same width as the full width of the mallet head. In my case the mallet head is 140mm wide and the shaft is 40mm wide, so the 2 small pieces were 50mm each.

I glued 4 pieces together to make up the head. This was to match the shaft but your size might be different.

Step 2: Drill Holes for Dowels

If you have a drill press this will be a very simple step.

Because I don't have a drill press I made up this jig. It's a simple T with holes drilled through. Each side is marked and this is important. Side A goes against the mallet head, while side B goes against the shaft. This ensures that if you haven't drilled perfectly plumb holes (which is unfortunately quite likely) then using the guide will mean the both pieces of wood join with the dowel holes travelling in the same orientation.

Step 3: Attach Mallet Head

Now that you have drilled holes into the inner mallet head as well as the shaft, insert dowels into the inner mallet head with glue. Then attach this to the shaft with glue. Once both inner heads are attached clamp them while the glue dries.

After the glue dries you may need to flatten the inner mallet heads. I used a hand plane for this. Now you can glue the outer pieces of the mallet, making sure to glue them to the inner head as well as the shaft. This needs to be clamped for a good amount of time.

Now is a good time to put some dowels through the head to lock it all together. This step is optional, depending on your faith in wood glue.

Step 4: Finalise the Shape, Sand and Finish

Once all the glue is dry remove the clamps and cut and/or sand any excess material off. I rounded over the shaft edges using a rounder over bit in a router and cut the mallet head flush using a mitre saw.



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    10 Discussions

    How long was your handle? I was planning on making this build this weekend and then realized I don't really know how long you made your handle.

    WHEW, Im glad you took my suggestion well. I began to be concerned that it may not be well received. You never know, ya know?
    Anyway, the primary reason that the traditional build uses a wedge in the top of the handle is most likely to prevent a heavy head from flying off if/when it gets loose. Flying chunks of metal in the vicinity of precious body parts can be nerve-wracking at best, and that's providing no injury(s) are incurred!
    Your design has the benefit of a head made of wood as opposed to metal, making it a little less likely to cause severe injury should it fly off when in use. Your design does provide a very effective method of connecting the components of the head. Further, alternating the direction of the wood grain in the different head components greatly strengthens the head against repetitive impact which is the primary purpose of the implement. The only improvement I would possibly consider would be to provide a positive mechanical connection or restraint to keep the head and the handle together beyond sole reliance on wood glue. My suggestion would be to add a dowel, maybe half the diameter of the others, centered on both head and handle. Alternatively its location could be anywhere from centered on the head upward to the point where it aligns with the top row of dowels. Much like the wedge of a traditional build, The intent of placement is to avoid the lower half of the head because a hole in that vicinity would lessen the handles ability to resist both bending and sheer stresses at the critical location where the handle meets the head. If you undertake that one simple modification, then technically speaking, That SUCKER AIN'T GOIN NOWHERE!
    Best of luck to you and your endeavors!
    The UnCivil Engineer

    1 reply

    I know of two advantages to the wedge method.

    First, as UnCivilEngineer notes, you can tighten the joint when it loosens, which it can do from the stress of use and material shrinkage.

    Second, it allows you to replace the handle when it breaks. More of an issue with (historically expensive) metal heads & (historically cheap) wooden handles.

    I suspect tradition also plays a role. Modern glues are much better than tool makers had when hammers were first designed.


    1 year ago

    I don't think I need a mallet at this point in time in my life... BUT, I did watch your video and read through your 'able because you clearly did an excellent job producing it. Fantastic creative way to share. I'll let you know when I need a mallet ;) GREAT WORK!

    Nice Build!! I was hoping that you would have devised some test method(s) to show how your design compares to the traditional build in terms of, say, strength, durability, usable life and/or benefit(s) of one method over the other. For, you see, there usually are a multitude of answers or approaches to solve a given problem, but ultimately we seek to determine the "best" or "most suitable" based upon some established design criteria as a means of comparison or evaluation of the alternatives (e.g. Strongest, most durable, cheapest, quickest assembly, etc.)
    But PLEASE REALIZE that this information is in NO WAY meant to be a criticism or a put-down of your work or your effort. It is only offered as an educational suggestion, should you decide to consider it. In any event, I wish you the absolute best, and by all means keep on keeping on! Its the best way for any of us to learn and improve.
    the UnCivil Engineer

    1 reply

    Hello! Thanks for the comment, I absolutely appreciate it. That sounds like a great idea for a future video! I've been using this mallet for about a week now and so far so good, but a head-to-head with other designs would be very interesting.

    Awesome to see how you made your own jig for the dowels! Nice!

    1 reply

    It's really a good idea. I will do it for sure. Have you seen any drawback after using it? Is it robust?

    1 reply

    Thanks. I've only been using it for a week and so far so good. The real test will be after months of use, but I'm hopeful