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Making and Using Tools - Percussion Tool


 
 

Inspiration comes from the strangest places... by Jerry M. Honeycutt Jr.

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Jerry M. Honeycutt Jr. , U.S. Coast Guard Retired (2001), now working as an IT Manager for Yale University.

I enjoy Photography, woodworking, fishing, hiking and anything outdoors.  I have been busy for the last 6 years restoring an old colonial schoolhouse in Winsted Connecticut my wife, daughter and I live in.  I enjoy scouring antique stores and junk malls for old tools and woodworking artifacts.  A "Newbie" Galoot but trying to learn something new every day!

Your website and its contributors have been a real motivator and has given me some great ideas and tips to improve my skills.  The fantastic people and content really make for some interesting and informative reading! Please, keep up the good work.

Best regards!

 

I discovered that woodworking, using only hand tools when I could was so very relaxing and rewarding after a day at the office.  I enjoy tinkering around, making a few of my own gouges, skews, some chisels and even a knife or two.  That however is a different story. 

Living in a small Northwest Connecticut town I have all of the old antique dealers who have the time to find all of the good old iron always on the hunt for me.

A few weeks ago I stopped by a favorite shop and a dealer friend of mine came upon this old beat up woodworking mallet at a Vermont estate sale.  The head had been used pretty hard and put up wet more than once.  I got it for the inspirational price of $5.00!  The handle though, oh the handle!  It's slender smooth shape fit my gnarled, calloused and scarred mitt perfectly! 

Almost feminine in form, slender, curvy in the right places.  Its color was Tan and finish supple, a finish and feel that can only come from years of palm sweat and friction, hardly a scratch on the handle. It was to be my "Model" and inspiration for my 2nd or third attempt at building some mallets that made me happy.

I never realized it until I held the old girl that the handle was the answer to the riddle of the "Perfect Mallet" not the head!  The head was only the "Business End" and not the interface to the hand!  Yes, its weight and balance do have something to do with the overall feel of the tool but it is the handle that is the true secret to the sublime communication that one has between tool and wood.  Alas!  To work!

I had some nice scraps of various hard, very hard woods laying about and set to work using an old coping saw, a couple of Stanley scrapers and some hand planes.  I did not set the heads in the usual manner of a tapered mortise.  I chose to "Split" the heads after gluing them up and setting the tapered top portion of the handle into the heads by the judicious application of West Brothers G2 Epoxy.  I chose to make the attachment "Permanent" and make a "Pattern" of my handle in case of any major disasters such as the head delaminating on some framing chisel handle.  Mallet heads come and go but the handle, oh the handle....

Here are some pictures for you if only to give other perspective into the proportions of head/handle that really seem to work for me. 

Woodworking friends have all commented on the "lively" feel and superb handling characteristics of both large and small mallets.


 
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