A mallet is one of the most useful tools in the shop, it’s great for chisel work, assembly and a variety of other tasks. Mallets are also great examples of how fun and easy it is to make your own tools. There is not just one way to make a mallet however, so let’s go over three popular methods.
If you have access to a lathe, then making a round carver’s mallet is a lot of fun. You can use a square piece of wood, or you can use a log. If you use a log, make sure to remove as much bark as possible beforehand (I used a hatchet), especially if your lathe is of a modest size. Once you have the piece on the lathe, you can really have some fun with it and determine the size based on the wood you have to work with.
A laminated mallet might be the most popular method because it doesn’t require rough sawn lumber and there isn’t as much physical work involved as a solid head mallet. The concept here is that you glue together three layers, with a hole in the center of the middle layer which the handle fits in. You can attach lead weights on the sides of the mallet for some extra weight, which is an optional step. When making a laminated mallet you definitely want to glue in the handle, as well as wedge it in to make sure it stays in place.
When making a solid head mallet you only need two pieces of wood — one for the head and one for the handle. The concept is similar to the laminated mallet in the sense that you fit the handle inside the head, however instead of gluing several pieces of wood together you chisel a hole for the handle in the middle of the head. This takes a little time and some trial and error, however the result is a very strong and solid tool. There is no need to glue the handle in the head with this technique, as you wedge the handle in the hole.
So these are a few methods one can use to create a mallet. Of course you can have a lot of fun playing with different types of wood and various combinations. Some of my favorite woods to use for mallets include walnut, maple, and ash, but any hardwoods work great.