This is a chunk of wood that is typically cut from a thick branch - with something like a bow saw. And then one end is made thinner to be a handle. Usually with a hatchet, but it could be enhanced a bit with a bow saw.
For some recent chisel work, jocelyn used a club style mallet we found in the library:
I used it too:
Here is a youtube video of one being created. I think he is showing how it can be done with a lot of different tools.
I think I would have stopped about halfway through the video and said "good enough!" I definitely would not have oiled it.
I think there is no reason to try to make something fancy here. When using this type of mallet with a fro, it will disintegrate in about eight hours of use. So the mission is to be prepared to make lots of these.
Caleb Larson once told me that after you make a few, you can make new ones in about seven minutes.
- roughly 16" long and 4" diameter at the fat end
- handle that you can comfortably hold
- handle is smooth enough that you won't get a splinter using it
To get certified for this BB, post three pics.
- Your chunk of wood that you are starting with (about 16 inches long and 4 inches in diameter)
- progress about half way through, with the hand tools you have decided to use for this
- final product held in your hand showing that your thumb and first finger can touch (any fatter than that and your hand will get very tired using it)
Below is a pic I took just now of a few mallets I found in a moment's notice. The first one was purchased a long time ago. People prefer using the home made mallets. You can see that the purchased, hardwood mallet is wearing out when being used on a fro. The second mallet is pretty heavy and the third mallet is a little light. All three are about 16.5 inches long.
I think there's an important distinction to be made regarding the intended use of the mallet (or any tool one is making or tuning), it's life expectancy, and the user.
For striking a froe, you need a mallet that is just a slightly improved chunk of firewood, by creating a handle. It is going to wear out quickly, and return to being firewood. It could (as many of these examples do) have checks in the handle, since one is likely to wear gloves for this work.
For striking chisels on the other hand, a mallet like the "purchased" one, made of a more carefully selected/dried piece of lumber and finished (even oiled/waxed) makes more sense. The work is more likely done bare-handed (no splinters from the tools, please) and you also want to limit damage to the chisel handles.
With any tool, the handle ought to fit the hands using it. Preference for the "hand-made" could be as much about a more ergonomic shape versus the turned handle of the "purchased" one being symmetric for purely visual reasons. Or that swell in the middle might just be a bit big for most hands.
The best part about a wooden handle is the ability to whittle/rasp/sand it to a shape and size that fits the user's hand. And again, once you know your size and shape (just like a shoe size) you can tune your tools to suit you quite quickly (it also helps that the feedback is *ahem* right at hand.)
So, I have to admit, I have NEVER used a hatchet before. This was my first experience using one. I made a small mallet because I have tenosynovitis and hypermobility and big heavy mallets and me just don't work out. I cut the maple tree today (during a windstorm) and carved it up. It took me about 2 hours, start to finish. A lot longer than Paul's estimate, but not bad for someone who's never used a hatchet before (and had to take a 20 minute break to sharpen said hatchet, which was waaaaaay too dull.)
I can't tell which I love more about going through these badge bits:
(1) Gaining skills I've always wanted to have.
(2) My kids being amazed and inspired by me turning wood into something useful
They love my spoon, and today they saw me carve the mallet. When I went to use my mallet to split more maple for a spoon, they wanted in on the action....and then wanted to split even more and more wood!