One of the things that I see a lot of is in regards to what to use when whacking tools against your wood. Yes, “whacking” is the technical term I’m going with. Why? Because that’s what it feels like to me.
Need to use the chisel? Whack it.
Want to center and secure your live center? Whack it.
Something stuck and you need to remove it? Whack it.
You get the idea…
For a while I had been using either a three or five pound sledge hammer to do the heavy work depending on what was closer at the time. I also have a habit of using my vintage fencing pliers since I often have them handy for helping to remove broken mounting screws from the wood. What I’ve been reading though is that I really shouldn’t be using metal for whacking my tools; especially a heavier piece of metal. Doing so increases my risk of:
- Deforming the end of the tool being struck
- Bending the item out of true
- A greater chance of splitting the handle, especially on chisels
- Missing and really injuring myself (that five pound hammer hurts!)
I know I could use a rubber mallet and be just fine. But why use a tool you already have when you can obsess over making one?
So to make a long story short(ish) I made a mallet. I started with a decent sized branch of silver maple from a friend’s house. It had died a few year back, so I knew the wood would be good and dry. I then went to town trying to round it out and make a decent feeling handle and well proportioned head.
Once I had the basic shape I added a few coats of some wood hardener just in case there was a soft bit of rotted wood in the middle. It certainly gave the wood a nice shine in the end too… A few weeks later (when the wood hardener had dried AND I had time) I mounted it back up and parted it from the log it was cut from. I could have probably just used a saw at this point, but I need the practice with parting items from their stock.
Voila! A decent wooden mallet I can use to whack things!
Now to hope it stays intact long enough for me to make another out of an even harder wood…