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Dr Ian Plummer

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Technical
Making a Mallet Head

If you are seaching for a source of exotic woods, I found www.craft-supplies.co.uk a good source. They used to publish a catalogue too which had the densities/specific gravities of the woods - unfortunately not now.

There are few available woods which have sufficient weight on their own to produce a correctly weighted head and have the correct properties (not splitting for instance).

Consider

  • Cocobolo SG 1.1
  • Ebony SG 1.03 - 1.09
  • Brazilian Kingwood SG 1.20
  • Palo Santo SG 1.1

Most other woods will need weighting. Pidcock/Manor House mallets use Purpleheart (SG 0.86), amongst others, for his wooden mallets. Lignum vitae is no longer traded here - it also splits easily unless very carefully dried.

Lead (density 11.34gm/cm3) is most often used for weighting. Lead wool (like wirewool) stuffed into a hole has been mentioned but I have not found a source. You could cast your own lead weight (it can be melted on a gas stove with extreme care) or take lead shot and set it in a glue matrix - there is a loss of density due to the filling factor. Most shot now is bismuth (density 9.78gm/cm3).

I have successfully used 6mm perspex for mallet faces but you do need a big radius (bevel) on the side edges say 3-4mm to prevent high stresses on a mis-hit cracking the edges. Tufnal is frequently used.

I use a large clamp when glueing the faces on - similar to the image on the right.

I tried Aralditing faces on and putting weights on them but the faces slid during glueing.

Hope this helps.

Ian

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Updated 28.i.16
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