Guidelines for
Making Wooden Mallets
by Edwin C. Hackleman

Here are some ideas:

I often use Locust for the barrel heads, which is denser than Oak.
Hickory heartwood also works but is harder to turn.
Walnut handles look nice and are plenty strong.
Ash would also work out well.

The idea is to concentrate weight at the head.

I turn the handle and the head separately, then join with either a through wedged tenon or a foxwedged tenon into a blind drill.

A 7/8" diameter drilled mortise works well.
Drill it into the head before you turn it and the handle that will mate.

I also like to make the head and the handle turning stock octagonal.
I make my handle stock by gluing up two 3/4" hardwood boards about
1-1/2" wide to form one blank.

Walnut works very well for a handle and provides a nice contrast, but Ash is perfectly acceptable and plenty strong.

Overall Proportions:
(I build them around the head diameter)

1)   The length of the head is twice the diameter of the head.
2)   The length of the handle (including tenon) is five times the diameter of the head.
3)   The radius of the arc that shapes the barrel head is about the overall length of the handle (including tenon).
4)   The maximum diameter of the handle is about half the thickness of the head but should be tailored to the size of your hand.
The end must be designed with a knob of some sort to help fight slippage.

I let the logs dry for at least six months.
That stuff is heavy.
Then cut about 3" off each end before turning.
Get rid of the checked cracks.
When you coat the whole mallet with three or four coats of sealer, that should stop the checking.

My logs are about 18" to 22" long, and I usually get two and on occasion 3 mallet heads out of each log.
The larger the dia. of the log, the better because the heartwood is significantly more dense than the sapwood.
Split billets actually work the best.

Best,   Edwin

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