Making a Joiner’s Mallet: Part 1

Mallet Complete

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In this episode, Paul discusses the features that make a good mallet, including choice of wood. The stock is then cut to shape using a few different methods, including splitting with an axe, cutting the tapers with the bow saw and handsaw, and creating reference faces with the smoothing plane.

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  1. Erland on 2 September 2014 at 4:29 pm

    So happy with this new Masterclass!
    always wanted to make a ‘good’ mallet.
    Thank you Paul en Co!

  2. wyattsa on 2 September 2014 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve made two mallets. The first was a laminated ash head that exploded mid mortise hole after six months, the second was a solid block of hickory that came from a friends wood pile. Still good after two years.

  3. Steve Follis on 2 September 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks Paul!
    I’m going to get busy on this one pretty quickly!

  4. Mike Goldfine on 2 September 2014 at 6:15 pm

    You are so right about laminated mallets. mine only lasted about 8 years. I like your design a lot better and I just happen to have some white oak in the right dimensions to make one of these. Enjoyed you video and learning a little about what you have gleaned over the last 50 years. Thank you!

  5. bsddude on 2 September 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Wow great timing.I have a block of osage orange and was just going to male a new mallet. I can’t wait for the conclusion.

    These side projects are worth as much as as the larger projects if not more.

  6. bow on 2 September 2014 at 7:29 pm

    It’s a real pleasure to see you, Sir, using hand tools ( and a small amount of them) to build everithing

  7. kaetwo on 2 September 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I just started my subscription here and can’t thank everyone enough for all the hard work you put into these videos. My only complaint is that there is not enough time in the day to watch them all 🙂

    I made my first mallet from watch Roy Underhill at the WoodWright show. I’m going to have to make another one using these methods as you can never have too many mallets.

    I can’t wait for the bow saw video!!!

    Thanks again.

    • Frank Joseph on 4 September 2014 at 2:18 pm

      For a good blade for a bow saw go to TGIAG they sell very nice scrapers and saw plates.
      Don’t let the though of making a saw put you off. It was much easer than I could belive. Be sides if this one eyed shaking oldman can do it you wont have any problems with it
      The plates come with the teeth punched out . You can order the plate in almost any size and configuration you want.
      The pricing is Very cheep. I could not belive for $30 I couuld get a dovetail saw worth having.

      • Jarrod Dungan on 6 September 2014 at 10:09 pm

        Thanks for the TGIAG resource! I hadn’t heard of these guys before but now I’m itching to start a cheap saw project

  8. mchickm on 2 September 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I have been waiting for this one ! Thanks guys !

  9. BrianJ on 2 September 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Agree with above, thank you for choosing to share the awesome content in these videos.

  10. Mark F. on 2 September 2014 at 8:08 pm

    What a surprise hearing that Tx cedar elm is 20x harder than oak! I’m surrounded by it fortunately. I was curious if it was workable and held back a few logs to dry. Also held back some large limbs that were infected with mistletoe, wondering if it make a nice pattern in the cedar elm grain.

    I’ve always wanted to build myself a nice mallet, so I appreciate this project!

  11. Sandy on 2 September 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I happen to have some Osage Orange since I do live just a little south of Osage county and the Osage Nation. Maybe I can get a Mallet going soon. Great video!

  12. Russell Wiscombe on 2 September 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Awaiting delivery of the three grits of diamond plates. Ahead ‘sharp’ tools and into the various projects I have started. Bench first, then a mallet and who knows what from there. Thank you very much Paul and all.


    • Michael Barnes on 2 September 2014 at 9:04 pm

      May I ask where you got yours from? I’m looking into getting some diamond plates and I’m interested what other people are using

      • Gary on 2 September 2014 at 9:49 pm

        Hi Michael,
        I just received my set about two weeks ago, and I’m really enjoying them. I purchased mine from They’re the EZE-LAP plates such as Paul uses; medium, fine, and super-fine. Amazon’s prices on them are about as low as I’ve found.
        Gary Blair

      • ballinger on 3 September 2014 at 6:28 pm

        Hi I’m using DMT diamond plates course, fine, super fine.

  13. md11toolman on 2 September 2014 at 8:49 pm

    This looks like a really fun project. I have some Pecan I can use and I know where to get some Osage Orange like you mentioned as well!

  14. Michael Barnes on 2 September 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Do you find that the cheaper chisels with metal caps actually damage traditional wooden male lets more than a wooden handled chisel might? I have just gotten into working with wood and I find that already I don’t like the feel of the cheaper chisel handles.

  15. JOHN-C on 2 September 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I made a mallet a week ago that is very similar to the one you are making. I made mine after watching an episode Roy Underhill did on making a proper joiner mallet.
    So far there is little difference than I can see on how Roy and Paul go about making a mallet, I wouldn’t expect there would be. Of course there are always different little lessons between the two educators that I enjoy very much.

    The mallet I made has a hard maple head and an ash handle. As soon as I come across a big apple tree or mulberry tree I am going to make a couple more, they are just fun to make. I think mulberry would make a great mallet, it is really hard and dense. I acquired some large mulberry logs a few years back, and I turned several bowls. When I finish turned the bowls after letting them dry I found out how hard this wood is, it was extremely important to get a really smooth final pass with the gouge or scrapper because it was near impossible to sand smooth. Oh yeah mulberry is in the osage orange family, duh, found that out later.

    • Frank Joseph on 4 September 2014 at 2:30 pm

      I turn malberry also I gave up on regular sanding. Us scrapers at 100 to 150 rpm.s then wet sand with 250/400
      Using beeswax mixed with mineraloil. A 3 to 1 mix wax to oil. Gives a great, food safe finish.

      • JOHN-C on 4 September 2014 at 3:48 pm

        Frank I agree no way to regular sanding. The slowest my lathe goes is 450rpm unfortunately. I have heard of the beeswax and oil method but have never tried it, perhaps I will, I currently use a commercial brand that is essentially the same, but probably cost more in the long run.

        The last mulberry I turned was in 2008 so the bowls have had a few years to age, they just keep getting darker and darker. Most people around my parts, northern Illinois, think of mulberry as a garbage wood, I could not disagree more. I even cut slabs off the irregular trunk with multiple piths, and made a couple live edge tables.

      • B.G. Carter on 31 December 2014 at 8:51 am

        Mr. Sellers,

        You mentioned you weren’t sure why the wood from Texas was called Cedar Elm.

        These elm trees tend to grow in valley bottoms along with a local Juniper which the locals refer to as “Cedars”. So, Cedar Elms are the Elms that like to grow with the “Cedars”.

        –A relocated, born and bred Texas boy.

  16. bit101 on 2 September 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I made a laminated oak mallet with some copper shot inside the head for a deadblow effect. But before too long, the face was caving in. I’ll probably make a solid one like this at some point, if I can find a big chunk of oak.

  17. bit101 on 2 September 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Looking forward to the bow saw build, as well. Been eyeing them on eBay, but I’d love to make one.

    • Frank Joseph on 4 September 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Go to tools for working wood they have a kit very cheep. There are plans for the frame a informationn, free

  18. knightlylad on 2 September 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Very strange, I went to see the very same bandsaw you have there Paul, it was for sale and I liked it very much, until I realised it was a 3 phase machine but the seller mistakingly advertised it as a 1 phase one, do you have a 3 phase supply in your shop or is a 1 phase bandsaw you’re using, thank you.

    • John-Paul Treen on 4 September 2014 at 2:11 am

      Startrite 352 machines come in both 3 phase and 1 phase varieties, so the machine could quite legitimately be either.

  19. martyb0606 on 3 September 2014 at 1:00 am

    Paul makes it look so easy. Love the videos. Thanks so much.

  20. Bob Groh on 3 September 2014 at 3:09 am

    As always, I am greatly enjoying the project. The bow saw really got my attention as the one shown incorporates much of what I (in my ignorance) have decided I absolutely have to have. One question for Paul: what type of oil/lubricant are you using to apply to the bottom of the plane?

  21. jdkatz on 3 September 2014 at 3:40 am

    Love the side comments about Leonard Bailey, who built a better mousetrap and watched while the world beat a path to his door.

    1825-1905. Pretty impressive.

  22. John Creighton on 3 September 2014 at 5:16 am

    Thanks Paul, I really enjoy your videos. Very relaxing and I look forward to them.

    Something that has puzzled me over the ages, I bet you would know the answer. Came to mind when you whipped out your trusty Disston. What is that little nib on the saw back near the end for?

  23. Ben Fisher on 3 September 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Can’t wait to see the next videos on finishing up the mallet.

    More than that, though, super excited for the buck/bow saw video series. I don’t have one but I have wanted one, but could never find the right one for the right price on ebay or whatever. Can’t wait to make my own!

  24. Kirk Zabolio on 3 September 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks Paul, looking forward to the next video.


  25. sidreilley on 3 September 2014 at 5:58 pm

    This is a great project, very useful. I thought about making a mallet by laminating it but questioned how it would hold up, I think this is the way to go. Thanks Paul.

    PS Anxious to see the bowsaw project!

  26. pstahley on 3 September 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Anybody have advice on source for thick block to make a mallet – I’ve wanted to for awhile, but have been unable to source anything thick enough to avoid laminating here in AK.

    Shipping on some sort of block/blank wouldn’t be too bad for a couple if someone knows of a reasonable online source? Thoughts?

    • Frank Joseph on 4 September 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Go raid your nabors fire wood pile
      Get the oldest logs you can.

      • pstahley on 23 September 2014 at 9:48 pm

        Maybe I should’ve been more specific – but the species matters greatly (after all its a mallet). Black spruce, Alaskan Paper Birch, and Cottonwood are the readily available species here (from the firewood pile) – none of these are good mallet woods; all being relatively soft….

        I’m looking for lignae vitae, osage, or something else, which means ordering online or getting someone to send it up to me…

        • KevinDHart on 31 July 2015 at 5:26 pm

          You can find Osage orange turning blanks on Ebay. Some are already cut round, but a 9×3 inch one will work. The wood itself is usually inexpensive ($8-$15), but shipping about doubles the cost because the wood is heavy. Still not a bad price.

    • SharpPencil on 4 September 2014 at 9:15 pm

      My source is a log pile destined for the fire. Go to the bottom of the pile and look for a nice straight chunk.
      Try and find and oldish piece so it is dry……I’m told wood dries at the rate of 1″ thickness per year??

      Of course one has to ask the owner first???

      Regards John

  27. STEVE MASSIE on 3 September 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Paul thanks for this, I have a couple of these to add to my Bucket list for sure. My ( 8 yr old ) Grandson will be thrilled with this.


  28. Thomas Marange on 4 September 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Thank you.

  29. Mihai on 5 September 2014 at 10:15 pm

    …how did you put -it in this book ?
    It’s so pleasant to learn all this things by watching , listening , smiling…
    thank you

  30. Sean Bibler on 14 September 2014 at 1:42 am

    Thank you Paul for the book and the series. I have been hoping, and praying for a quality training course.


  31. dcrane13360 on 17 October 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Paul, I recently took down a ‘green ash’ off my property and I saved some good chunks. My question is: would it be ok to use green wood for the mallet?
    Thanks Dave Crane.

    I love your videos and can’t wait for them each week.

    • Philip Adams on 28 October 2014 at 11:50 am

      Hello Dave,
      Green wood would be likely to split, it is best to use seasoned or kiln dried wood.
      Glad you enjoy the videos.

  32. jeffdustin on 24 December 2016 at 11:30 pm

    2 quick questions: if you use the outer face of the tree as the striking face and fire harden the surface, will that defeat the mushrooming Paul talks about in middle density woods like Oak, Elm, etc.?

  33. Dan Warren on 23 March 2018 at 12:37 pm

    If anyone is looking for Cedar Elm, try Berdoll Sawmill in Bastrop, Texas. Depending on the size of the piece wood you want they will ship. Their website is

  34. IGOR on 2 September 2020 at 10:02 am

    Gonna try and make this out of an old red gum fence post.

    A quick google to check that the density is reasonable:

    Cedar Elm: Up to 750kg/m3
    Red Gum (Seasoned): 910kg/m3
    Red Gum (Unseasoned): 1140kg/m3

    Hmm. Should work.

  35. Will Leigh on 13 May 2021 at 9:23 am

    Hi, Paul refers to that lovely old Disston saw, and I’d very much like one similar. Have you any more details on that saw?

  36. Larry Geib on 14 May 2021 at 12:58 am

    It looks like a number 8, judging from the nib, no wheat carving, and the apple handle. Number 8 saws were made from 1840 to about 1923, when production ended in favor of a complete revamping of the product line.

    The old number 7 is similar but with a beech handle.

  37. Sven-Olof Jansson on 14 May 2021 at 5:54 pm

    Bad Axe Toolworks offer Disston copies. I’m very happy with my 26″ D8 rip, as well as my 16″ cross-cut panel saw.,optional%20black-oxide%20or%20niter-blue%20with%2013%2F16%22…%20More%20

  38. John Winter on 10 July 2021 at 1:50 pm

    @BILLUM Paul hasn’t used it in a while. It’s a lovely saw if you can get one but it’s no better than a standard 22” or so hand saw you can get for very little money.

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