Tag Archives: Mallet

Working in the round…

Bowl blanks waiting to be turned
Bowl blanks waiting to be turned

Yesterday I had a rare day off and some time to work in my shop. With the holidays and cold weather fast approaching I am trying to get through my mile long TODO list. One of the items on my list was to make good use of some turning blanks I had on hand. (Last weekend I cleaned up the basement and organized my wood rack so now things are nice and neat)

Mallet blank
Mallet blank

Before tearing into a bowl blank I wanted to warm up with a spindle project and I’ve had a nice mallet blank sitting in my tool rack for the last year (literally).

Turning the mallet
Turning the mallet

You may recognize this style mallet from an earlier post I made last year on my blog here. The handle is made from cherry and the striking face is quarter-sawn hard maple. The concept here is that a mallet made from a single piece of wood usually loses some of the long grain sections that come flying off over its service life. By using quarter-sawn wood on all 4 sides you are not exposing any of the grain that is likely going to fly off. This also assumes that the Titebond glue joint is stronger than any movement in the handle.  We’ll see how well this one lasts in my own shop. (The first one was a gift for a friend)

Finished Mallet
Finished Mallet

A few changes I made in the design is I made the top a tiny bit concave so I can stand the mallet on its end and I simplified the handle a bit as it will likely have a hard life in the shop. I do however really like how the bead makes a pattern with the contrasting wood species.

Turning tools in the rack
Turning tools in the rack

Now that the tools are all warmed up, it’s time to start making some bowls.

Bowl blank mounted on a face plate
Bowl blank mounted on a face plate

After roughing the blanks round on the band saw I secure the blank to a faceplate using good quality wood screws. (The screw holes disappear as that wood is removed from the inside of the bowl)

Bowl blank ready for turning
Bowl blank ready for turning

The first step is to turn the bottom of the bowl. I elected to make a chunky Asian feeling bowl from a small walnut blank I had on hand.

Turning the bottom and making a foot for the bowl chuck to grab onto
Turning the bottom and making a foot for the bowl chuck to grab onto

The bowl chuck grabs onto the foot (or base) of the bowl and allows me to hollow out the inside of the bowl.

Hollowing the bowl, knee deep in shavings
Hollowing the bowl, ankle deep in shavings

You know it’s a good day at the lathe when you are completely covered in shavings and standing ankle deep in shavings.

Hollowed out bowl, finishing the edge detail
Hollowed out bowl, finishing the edge detail

Once I got the wall thickness and profile into a form I liked, I apply the finish right on the lathe. This allows for easier buffing etc.

Finished bowl
Finished bowl

I liked the figure of this piece and how it came out.

Underside of bowl
Underside of bowl

The bowl is finished with Tung Oil and Wax and likely will be a place for my wife to put her keys or watch or similar items at the end of a day.

Turned walnut bowl. Finished with tung oil and wax
Turned walnut bowl. Finished with tung oil and wax

On a cold day like today, I hope that you will get out to the workshop and make something new.  Time for me to get back into the shop myself….

Take care,
-Bill

Getting a grip on a solid mallet

A good mallet of often overlooked. All too often we settle for a store bought carving mallet or crude instrument we fashioned in a hurry and then live with for years. Before the holidays I decided is was time to make a nice larger mallet for myself and one for a friend. I wanted a mallet that was a little larger and heavier than the average.

You can never have too many clamps, especially when clamping up a blank wherein you do not want to see any glue lines.
You can never have too many clamps, especially when clamping up a blank wherein you do not want to see any glue lines. Plus it takes on the look of some modern art work. 😉

I decided to make my new mallet out of cherry and hard maple as they are two of my favorite woods to work with, and I like they contrast they have with each other when finished. The hard maple (Same I used for my workbench) is hard, dense and wears well, and the cherry (From a curly cherry piece I had around the shop) has a nice even tone and finishes well.

Blanks ready to be turned
Blanks ready to be turned

In making this sort of mallet, the stock preparation work is more important than the actual turning and finishing. That is why its critical to get the mating surfaces planed dead flat and take the time to clamp it up tightly (don’t starve the joint of glue) but make sure you do not have gaps or you will have unsightly glue lines and a potentially weaker mallet.

First Mallet Turned, Next to the blank
First Mallet Turned, Next to the blank

Why would someone spend so much time and effort to make a fancy mallet you are only going to beat the heck out of?

If you’ve ever turned a mallet from a single piece of wood and used it for a while you’re likely to see parts of it eventually come flying off — but only from two sides.  This leaves you with an unbalanced mallet which may not hit your chisel the way you want. Where quarter sawn grain is exposed the wood is mostly intact after years of use, but where long grain is exposed some hard hits can take advantage of the plane of weakness in the wood causing them to fly off. They break off much the way splitting a piece of wood with a froe separates the grain.

The good news is there is a way to avoid this…

Completed Mallet
Completed Mallet

By gluing up a mallet as you can see here the hard maple pieces are quarter sawn — so on all 4 sides of the finished mallet you have nice dense quarter sawn hardwood grain oriented in such a way that it should have a nice long service life even under harsh conditions — plus it’s pleasing to look at especially with contrasting woods.

End of mallet with finish applied
End of mallet with finish applied

Won’t it break apart with seasonal movement or use? I used Tite-Bond II for the glue which has been proven to be stronger than wood when used in long grain to long grain bonds. The center or handle piece of wood should be a well seasoned hardwood ideally rift sawn and known to be stable. I’ve seen many of these mallets get heavy shop for years and hold up very well. A similar mallet is often a regular project the cabinet and furniture making program at NBSS.

Completed Mallet
Completed Mallet

You should take the time to fit the handle to your hand and make it as austere or ornate as you see fit. I particularly like how the laminated structure of the blank results in nice contrasting areas like you see on the bead in the above photo.  I do a lot of period work so I was thinking about the 18th century as I turned these mallets. Most of it is finished with the skew chisel and needed almost no sanding. The finish is tongue oil with a very light coat of wax only on the end grain and handle. I look forward to it providing years of solid service.