Inspired by a vintage tool in the Lee Valley collection, this mallet has the best features of both wood and metal and is a direct substitute for a carpenter's mallet.
The cast brass head has the mass and small size typical of a metal hammer.
The 1-1/2 in. diameter hardwood inserts provide wooden striking faces so you can strike chisels without mushrooming the handles.
Since a cabinetmaker's mallet is used primarily with wrist action, the flat faces are in planes that intersect the handle tip, so the face is 90° to the arc of swing to prevent glancing blows.
You can also choke up on the handle for work requiring greater finesse such as fine carving.
With two striking faces you can keep one smooth and clean for general work.
The other face can be used for more aggressive tasks such as driving out bolts, pins, etc., without peening the ends.
The inserts provided with the mallet are made of dense, close-grained hardwood.
They should provide years of service; however, if the mallet is used to drive a cold chisel or any other kind of steel tool, this will dramatically shorten the life of the inserts.
You can remove a damaged insert by boring a series of holes in a line across the face, through to the bottom of the cavity (which is about 13/16 in. (20 mm) deep) with a 1/4 in. (6 mm) twist drill bit.
Avoid drilling into the brass casting. Pry the two halves of the insert out with a slot screwdriver.
Make the new insert 1.6 in. (40 mm) diameter by 1 in. (25 mm) long and such that the end grain is on the striking face. Make sure to use well-seasoned wood so that the moisture content in your workpiece is in equilibrium (i.e., the moisture content is neither greater nor lesser than the typical moisture content in your shop).
The interior cavities of the mallet head are ribbed and will retain the inserts in spite of moisture content fluctuation. During dry periods, the inserts may seem loose, but should not fall out.