Hand Tools Archive

Re: With Mallet Aforethought
Response To:
Re: Mallet ()

William Duffield
IMHO, it's a lot easier to learn to steer a round head mallet than a dovetail saw. It doesn't take a lot of practice to get proficient at centering the strike on the axis of the mallet. You don't even need to look at the mallet, like you do with a square head mallet.

With a round head mallet, there is only one way to set it down. If you make a mistake, you learn quickly that it will roll off the bench and hit you on the foot. With a square head mallet, there are an infinite number of ways to set it down, and you have to look at it to pick it up again and then rotate it in your hand to orient the face correctly to the object.

I disagree with your statement that a flat headed mallet focuses the force better than a round mallet. The amount of force transferred is dependent only on the mass of the mallet, its speed at impact and its elasticity. Of course, the elasticity of an end grain impact is different than a side grain impact, but that choice was not included in your argument. I have seen both square head and round head mallets with end grain, face grain, and edge grain striking faces.

We all know from playing baseball that a face grain strike is more likely to break the mallet head or handle than an edge grain strike, so a square head mallet could be more durable than a round head mallet if the latter is used with a random orientation. Maybe we need to brand the round head mallets like they do Louisville Sluggers?

A mallet with a square or rectangular cross section perpendicular to the grain is more likely to split than one with a round cross section.

A round mallet is quicker and easier to make (assuming you have a lathe and skew chisel). If you want a handle and head of different woods, then you will also need something to drill a hole in the head.

Do you ever play billiards? With a round head, you can apply english to your strike. :D

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