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Now THAT'S a mallet

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Turnr77

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Having picked up some carving chisels to try a bit of more decorative wood carving I have been meaning to get around to making myself a new mallet.
Last week my wife and I called into a Antiques/ Vintage/Upcycled type centre, you know the sort of place I'm sure, not much antique or truly vintage but lots old wooden cable drums varnished and called a coffee table for £300, there was what was once a nice old wooden try plane now a lamp, and best of all a pallet, not sanded, not painted or varnished just had 4 hairpin steel legs added and a sheet of glass on top £395. :shock:

Anyway I digress, not expecting to find much of interest then on a shelf I saw this mallet amongst other general "vintage" kitchen stuff, expecting to find a ridiculous price tage I was very surprised it was £24, got it for £22 in the end and very pleased and would have paid more.

It's 12.5" overall 4.5" at widest and very heavy, to me it has the slight green tinge of lignum vitae, but a Google search finds a dealer selling a similar but plainer mallet described as bog oak ( also asking £285!) any thoughts? As you can see someone has fairly recently glued a piece of wood into a split and badly tried to colour match it which is a shame.
I've not used it yet, its not even made the workshop, its on the table beside my chair its so very tactile and oozes history I can't put it down. (Wife keeps giving me funny looks though).

I suspect that it was either used for heavy oak framing or masonry use, I think its certainly 19c but something is niggling in my memory about the decoration that makes me think it is posiibly much older, (don't know why but Elizabethan keeps popping in to my head) any ideas?

Think I'll still have to make a slightly smaller one though.

Nick
 

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MikeG.

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I'm not saying you're wrong about it being used for framing work, but it is my understanding that mallets like this were normally used:



I've always thought that turned mallets were for carvers and stonemasons.
 

AndyT

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I think that's a really nice mallet. Clearly old, but I don't think you'll ever know how old. And I agree with what Mike said about carvers and masons using that style.
 

Lons

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Not surprised the missus is giving funny looks Nick, you haven't been checking her life insurance policy as well, have you? :lol:

I have several lig vi mallets and it looks more like oak to me, I thought is was one piece when I first saw it but on second thoughts looks like a separate handle from similar wood.
Definitely would say it's most likely a carvers mallet and it's very nice, has history which always appeals to me. Nice find. =D>

If you make a small one can I suggest, unless you can get hold of an old bowling ball that you consider using beech or oak then drill a hole in the end and melt in some lead. Most wood carvers find it more comfortable and controllable to hold the head of the mallet rather than the handle and hit the chisel with controlled tap rather than heavy blows for normal work.
 

Jacob

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AndyT":in0nvnnq said:
I think that's a really nice mallet. Clearly old, but I don't think you'll ever know how old. And I agree with what Mike said about carvers and masons using that style.
Yep. Round mallets for hitting tools, flat faced for frames (marks less).
You can use flat ones on tools of course but they get hollowed and you can only use two faces not the whole circumference.
 

MikeG.

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Jacob":jdo14w84 said:
.........Yep. Round mallets for hitting tools, flat faced for frames (marks less).........
I don't think framers used round mallets, Jacob, whether hitting tools or lumps of oak. I wouldn't stake my life on it, but that's my understanding. I'm not talking about the "commander", the massive great two handed thing for final assemble, but the all-day-every-day mallet was, as far as I know, as per mine in the photo above.
 

Turnr77

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Thanks for the comments guys, I was meaning for hitting chisels on frame joints rather than persuading frames into place, based on its shear weight it seams ideal for some hefty joint cutting.

It does seem to be turned from one piece but I'll dig out a magnifying glass and double check.

I have a piece of as yet unplaned unidentified but also very dense and heavy wood earmarked to turn a smaller mallet when I can.

Nick
 

AJB Temple

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Well...these days a lot of timber framers (me included as an amateur) use Thor type mallets with hide one end, copper the other very often. Lots of framers, me included, do use curved mallets as well, but they are MUCH bigger than the one shown - far longer, almost like a bowling pin. Many framers make their own mallets from a slice of a tree trunk, say 6, 8 or 10 inch diameter, and fit a handle through it.

I have a bit of a collection of old masonry and wood carving mallets. They often come up on the bay, with beautiful woods and often the handles are threaded wood. Around £20.

The one you have looks unbalanced to me for woodwork - head too heavy for the handle. Most likely used by a stone mason. I very much doubt it's anywhere near as old as you hope.
 

Woody2Shoes

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In Sussex, people whacking metal bladed froes etc. to split timber along the grain (e.g. to make roof shakes or fencing components) from coppiced oak/chestnut etc. use(d) a 'bittle' made from a round of wood e.g.

http://kepisbushcraft.blogspot.com/2011 ... eadle.html

A couple of interesting old pictures of two different kinds of persuader in use here: http://www.combermere-restoration.co.uk ... the-abbey/

The example in the OP doesn't look like Lignum - I've made myself a round carving mallet from an old bowling ball/'wood' and the grain is not as open as in the photo.
 
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