Hand Tools Archive
John Aniano in central NJ
You said you couldn't make a round mallet because you lack a lathe. But, in reality, that is not really true! You could make a round mallet head by squaring up the tapered stock, sawing or planing octagonal facets, knocking off those corners to make a tapered 16-sided head, and then a 32-sided head and just kiss the corners off that and you will have a near fully round mallet head. Then a bit of sanding to wrap it up. I do this all the time in making the tapered stick of a musical instrument bow. They are planed from square through to a fully round cross section. Plus, it's a good exercise in layout and execution. And it's fun too! Then, just make a handle in the same manner and glue it into the head. If you are making lots of mallets, by all means, get a lathe, but if you might make one or two, you can make them without a lathe!
Plus, if you really wanted to get fancy, you could make an oval cross section mallet. Why you might want this, I don't know, but the method I've described above would allow you to make one. Offset turning in your currently nonexistent lathe would do it too, but for one or two examples, I'd go with my method.
Just my $0.02...