Do you find yourself confronted with a myriad of options when choosing which mallet to use for your woodworking projects? In this post, we’ll help break down some different types of mallets available to help you find the right tool for the job you’re working on.
1. The joiner’s mallet
The joiner’s mallet is characterized by two slightly angled flat faces and a large head. They vary in size, but are usually quite large. They excel at heavy chisel work, where both power and precision are required. The flat faces provide you with accuracy, while the heft provides power. This is my go-to mallet for chopping big mortises.
The joiner’s mallet pictured above is approximately 16 ounces and made of solid beech. The handle fits through a wedged mortise, so that either can be replaced. The centrifugal force from using the mallet keeps the handle tight in the head.
2. The carver’s mallet
The carver’s mallet is round and often turned from a single piece of wood. It excels at driving gouges and other various tools to create intricate carvings. The round shape gives the user excellent directional control. This one is on the larger side, however, carving mallets can vary greatly in size. Large mallets do the heavy lifting, while smaller ones are used for detailed work.
I originally used this one in place of a joiner’s mallet. I had issues with the round head glancing off of chisel handles and ruining mortises.
3. The dead-blow mallet
The dead-blow mallet is an unusual one. It is characterized by a hollow body filled with sand or metal filings. It shines at driving pieces of furniture together. The heavy material inside the hollow body provides a lot of mass to persuade joinery together. I recently used this one to drive half-inch pegs into 5-inch deep holes for a workbench build.
4. The rubber mallet
The rubber mallet is a frequent staple, both inside and outside of the wood shop. I mention it here, because it excels when the dead-blow mallet cannot. The soft rubber head won’t mar delicate woods and finishes. However, it just doesn’t have the mass that helps the dead-blow mallet to excel at difficult joinery tasks.
5. The journeyman’s mallet
This might be my favorite mallet of all. The journeyman’s mallet is characterized by its small size. This one has a turned handle and round, brass head, but they do come in many shapes. Many woodworkers prefer one that has a head with flat faces like those found on the joiner’s mallet.
The short handle and heavy brass head gives you a lot of precision without sacrificing power. The small size also allows you to get into tight spaces. This mallet sees most of its use on fine joinery, such as chopping the waste between dovetails.
For more information on mallets and hammers, see this related post: Tools to Get Started in Woodworking: Hammers and Mallets.
What types of mallets do you use most frequently in the workshop?
Free Online Woodworking Class
Transform your next woodworking project with flawless finishing techniques.Enroll FREE Now »