8

I was reading this question about the Size of a Joiner's Mallet and it got me thinking about why specifically I would even want to have a joiner's mallet.

I have an old croquet stick (shortened handle of course) as well a rubber mallet and a variety of hammers that I use for this type of work.

My chisels are seeing a lot of game time recently for joinery. Am I missing out by not using this tool?

  • I would think the Croquet mallet would work pretty similar to the the Joiner's mallet. Being wood is the important part. Has a different reaction than rubber or steel – bowlturner May 15 '15 at 16:28
  • I mostly use the rubber mallet with my chisel, since the croquet is rather large, but in hindsight it might work better with something more solid. – Matt May 15 '15 at 16:42
  • Just don't make it too solid. If you use a hammer on your chisels, you run the risk of cracking them. – saltface May 15 '15 at 17:41
  • Another downvote it seems. I don't think this would be opinionated or anything. If someone knows what about my question is poor feel free to chime in. – Matt May 15 '15 at 18:26
  • Perfectly fine question. I have 2 -- a Roy Underhill Mystery Mallet that I made and a commercial one. Truth is, I never use either. Why? My chisel handles are synthetic, so will take a whacking from my framing hammer (seriously! a framing hammer, though not the waffle face), and I have a few deadblow hammers for beating on carcases/drawers. – Aloysius Defenestrate May 17 '15 at 4:14
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Unless you have to carry them around or put a premium on space, the answer to "do I need another tool" is always yes.

Specific advantages of a joiner's mallet:

  • The angled face of the mallet makes it easier to swing as your arm stays lower.
  • The large face lets you concentrate on your chisel's business end and ignore how your mallet strikes are falling.
  • You can make it yourself using a branch you cut off your neighbor's apple tree in the middle of the night.

Roy Underhill making a mallet.

  • Man I was about to link to that. I just watched most of that video. The face angle was something I was curious about. Thanks – Matt May 15 '15 at 18:24
  • any link to the woodwright's shop gets a +1 from me! – Rob Latham May 15 '15 at 21:35
  • 1
    Even after you've run out of space, the answer is still yes. – rob May 18 '15 at 19:12
4

Am I missing out by not using this tool?

Another way of looking at the question Do I need a [large, heavy] wooden mallet?
is by asking it this way Do I need the function of a [large, heavy] wooden mallet?
For a lot of people that is clearly a no, as long as they have one of the multiple alternatives (as you've listed in the original question). While none of them are direct stand-ins for a wooden mallet, they can do the same job to the satisfaction of those individual users.

With some experience under their belt I think the average worker gets pretty good at identifying gaps in the tool-set and then looking around at the options, picking what will come in handiest for them. It's not a perfect system, but often the utility that you think a tool will have comes close to the utility is does have.

So I suspect that given you haven't already said to yourself something like, "I could really do with a joiner's mallet." means you don't need one.

That doesn't mean you couldn't find a use for one if you bought or made one, but if you're after the fewest tools that'll do the most work then I'd say don't worry about it and continue to be happy with your croquet mallet. You wouldn't be the only woodworker using one!

2

You would want a joiners mallet if your toolbox lacked a beefy wooden mallet with which to drive chisels and whack together (or apart) tight joints. If you already have tools sufficient for those purposes, or if those are not among the tasks that you need to perform regularly, you could also use one to decorate the wall at your local TGI Friday's, or to flatten minute steaks.

In short: You'll know it if you need one, and it sounds like you don't need one.

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