Mjolnir (part 1)

At long last I have begun construction of my first mallet!  I’ve been seeing all these great pounders, thumpers, whackers, and smackers that everyone has been displaying on the internet and on TV shows and finally could take no more of the bounce-back prone rubber mallet I’ve been using.

As it happens, when I bought the supplies to build the bench back in August, I also acquired a nice hickory plank (4″x3/4″ x 4′) to make some planing stops (a la Ian Kirby from Scott Landis’ book The Workbench Book).  Then I realized I certainly don’t need 4 feet of hickory for a planing stop or two.  time for a hickory mallet!

I was outside with the kids yesterday morning goofing around in the garage while they decorated the floor of the garage with chalk and played in the scrap pile (it’s amazing the things my son and daughter can create simply by stacking blocks and pounding on others with the much maligned rubber mallet) and came up with a design.  Nothing fancy for version 1.

Just going to follow the pattern I’ve seen others use with success.  I have no idea where it originated, or I would credit that genius.  But seems everyone has one of this kind at some point—three layered head, the middle being cut in half and opened up so the handle of the same thickness can pass through.  Sometimes that middle layer his hollowed out and filled with sand, lead shot, or BB’s and epoxy  etc., then the whole thing is glued up and shaped and sanded.  Sounds easy enough!  Who knows, I may break it on the first swing, although with this dense hickory (first time I’ve ever used it other than on an ax handle or something  I doubt it.

Anyway, this is just an experiment.  If I like the results  I’ll make another maybe.  There’s just something about mallets I love.  It’s my thing.  I guess.

So, in the time I had with the kids (actually about 2 hours  but I obviously couldn’t just work for 2 hours…I really had about 20 minutes after you take out all the times I ran after them, played with them, stopped the fights, stopped the tears, cleaned them off and picked them up off the floor, etc.   30 seconds here, 30 seconds there.  2 hours later, here’s what I had:All the pieces laid out on the bench.  That hickory sure was tough to cut with the Stanley miter saw.  Well, not really difficult I guess, it just took a long time to cut through it.  Steady even strokes chewed it up but the wood is so dense (compared to poplar or pine that I’ve cut with or even the fir the bench is made from) it just seemed like it would never cut through, though the fine sawdust piling up around the blade proved that it was cutting.

Then I stacked up the three pieces that will make up the head.  Wow.  That is one dense block of wood when they’re stacked like that.  A joy to hold!  Can’t wait to start shaping and gluing.  And then I have to figure out what I’m going to fill it with.  I don’t have lead shot, or BB’s or sand on hand.  But I do have lead pellets for my air rifles.  Some epoxy and that would work I think.  Lead is lead after all.  Hmmmm

Oh, I also whipped together a quick paper towel holder for the shop using some scrap 2×4 cutoffs and the leftover dowel from plugging the bench top.  Took all of 10 minutes, using the coping saw to round the ends and sand it all up nice and smooth.  Easy but badly needed.  Plus it’s right next to the bench on the shelves the previous owner built (which serve as my clamp rack at the moment…).


About Marcus Richardson

Marcus attended the University of Delaware and later graduated from law school at the age of 26. Since then, he has at times been employed (or not) as: a stock boy, a cashier, a department manager at a home furnishing store, an assistant manager at and arts and crafts store, an unemployed handyman, husband, cook, groundskeeper, spider killer extraordinaire, stay at home dad, and a writer.
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