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Making and Using Tools - Percussion Tool


Perfect Carving Mallet by James D. Thompson

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I like to soften the blows from my carving mallet on my carving tools. That is the reason why, after a whole bunch of experimenting, I came up with the plastic pipe cover for my carving mallet. I am aware that mallets are sold with a plastic cover, but these are in the $30 range, and of course they don't look like a Galoot made tool. :>)

The plastic pipe cover on my 5 year old mallet shows quite a bit of deformation from striking the ends of my carving tools. But the carving tools themselves show no deformation at all.

The small amount of shock absorption in the plastic has no noticeable effect on the cutting action of the gouges. It just protects the struck end.

Here is how I make what I consider to be the Perfect Carving Mallet.

First select a piece of wood and turn it to rough shape. Here I am using a piece of eucalyptus.  Make the head of the mallet about 2 1/2” long, and size the diameter to about .010” larger than the inside diameter of the 2” ABS pipe you will use for a cover. This is so you can heat the pipe and get a good shrink fit on the head after it is slipped on.

ABS is the black plastic pipe used for drain pipe.

I leave the pipe intact until it has been heated and slipped onto the mallet head. This is so I don’t burn my fingers on the hot pipe. You can use any convenient method to heat the pipe, including a soak in boiling water.

After the pipe has cooled I cut it off with a hacksaw.

Now the whole thing goes back into the lathe. Notice that it doesn’t matter what the condition of the pipe is. It will be turned to clean up. I do clean the inside of the pipe before I slip it on.

Please notice that I have marked the wood so I can always put it back in the lathe in the same position. There is a small spot of paint on the spur which I align the mark to.  Before I put the wood into the lathe the first time, I drive the spur into the end for a good fit. These steps allow me to remove and replace a piece in the lathe over and over again to do intermediate steps, and I can always put the piece back in exactly as it came out.

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