Makers Mallet Using a CNC
The goal behind this project was to build a friction fit mallet for chisel work that could be built by anyone in a few simple steps. I knew the mallet would need to be strong and balanced in weight. I used my CNC to cut out the mallet, but a Jigsaw could also be used to cut out the shapes.
For this project, I used two different species of wood - Red Zebra and Walnut. The same design could be used to build a mallet out of one or multiple types of wood. This is a great project to build with small left over pieces you may have.
Wood Piece 4" X 15" X 1" (Min.)
Second Wood Piece 6" X 12" X 1" (Min.)
CNC or Jigsaw
Carbide Create Files
STEP 1: DESIGN
I used an SVG file in Carbide Create to design the mallet. I made it in two separate files; one file for each type of wood. You could combine them into one file if you're planning on using just one type of wood. Be careful to pay attention to the depth set in the files compared to your material.
STEP 2: CUTTING DOWN THE MATERIAL
For this project, my next step is breaking down the two different woods into usable pieces with minimal waste. I cut a long board into more easily manageable pieces at the miter saw station. The Zebra wood is cut into a 4" X 15" piece which is the minimum size and will be just big enough to cut the handle and two inside layer pieces. The Walnut will be cut down into a 6" x 12" piece - big enough for the larger two outside pieces of the mallet with a little extra left over. Using a CNC makes this process easier since you don't need to worry about exact thickness or clean edges at this point.
STEP 3: CUTTING ON THE CNC
This project can be cut completely on the CNC. I use a 1/4" down cut bit for the entire project. It is important when squaring up the already cut down material on the machine that the grain is running vertically down the mallet handle and ideally will have end grain on the striking sides. This will give both the head and handle strength.
STEP 4: SANDING TO UNIFORM
Sand all of the pieces checking to make sure they all align with each other. To sand mine, I used an orbital sander but you can also sand by hand. At this step, you are just removing any imperfections or rough cuts from the machine. Try not to remove too much material from an individual piece. If you do, don't worry as it will be corrected in the later steps.
STEP 5: GLUE UP
First, glue the handle and the two inside pieces (the Zebra wood) to one of the mallet head outside pieces (the Walnut). Make sure you check the fit of your handle as you set up the glue. The handle should stick out the top slightly. Using clamps, apply even pressure across the wood and allow to dry. Once the glue is dry on the first part, remove any excess glue and glue on the final outside piece of the mallet head.
STEP 6: FINAL SANDING
Finally, sand the entire mallet. Maintain the shape of the mallet and evenly sand all surfaces smooth. This is the time to remove any imperfections and alignment issues from the glue up stage. Using the sander, I round the handle on the edges to make a more comfortable grip. I sand the entire mallet starting with 80 grit and work through 150, 180 and 220 grit sandpaper.
STEP 7: OIL AND FINISH
Finish the mallet in a finish of your choice. For mine, I prefer a penetrating oil followed by a gel Polyethylene for its hardness. This step is my favourite. This is when the wood will really pop and get that nice shine.