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What type of wood to use?

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vintagengineer28/05/2017 16:03:26
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468 forum posts
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I need to make a steel banded wooden mallet for a vintage Peugeot. Does anyone know which type of wood would be most suitable? I was thinking of using Elm?

Roderick Jenkins28/05/2017 16:14:32
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1720 forum posts
442 photos

I'd certainly use elm for the head because it is resistant to splitting and ash for the handle. I made myself a wood carver's mallet moons ago with an elm head and it has lasted so far. The handle is actually laburnum - 'cos I had a piece.

mallet.jpg

HTH,

Rod

Edit: photo added

Edited By Roderick Jenkins on 28/05/2017 16:22:21

clogs28/05/2017 17:11:49
455 forum posts
12 photos

vintage engineer......

obtain an old wooden greens' bowling ball.......cheap as chips, less than a fiver, it's Lignam Vitae......the head would be as hard as nails (this is also known as Iron wood, doesn't float either)..... for the handle a nice piece of Ash for a color contrast.....

oh and u'll need Carbide to re shape it........good luck.....clogs.........

Phil Stevenson28/05/2017 19:03:10
70 forum posts
13 photos

Elm will make a good mallet although choose a dense piece, some elm will be on the lightweight side. Oak will do as well and is easier to get hold of. As stated, ash for a handle is ideal. Good luck finding an old lignum vitae bowling ball for a fiver! Maybe 10 or 20 years ago but they are rare now although lignum is best of all for a mallet head. "New" lignum is all but impossible to source as it's export has been prohibited for some years iirc. Btw iron wood is not the same thing as lignum vitae. The overwhelming majority of woodturning tools are HSS, although carbide tipped tools are becoming more popular nowadays for some more specialised uses. I've been woodturing for 25+ years (but by no means have a monopoly of knowledge) and will happily advise or even turn the thing for you! Actually looking above, laburnum would make a good mallet head if you could find a good piece; it cracks very easily as it dries.

Russell Eberhardt28/05/2017 19:52:03
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2432 forum posts
83 photos

Is this for knock-on wire wheels? I always used to use a copper mallet on my Fraser Nash wheel nuts.

Russell

Edited By Russell Eberhardt on 28/05/2017 19:54:31

John Rudd28/05/2017 20:01:12
1364 forum posts
58 photos

Whats wrong with a bit of Beech? Iirc, mallets for chisleling were made from Beech....

Eugene28/05/2017 21:00:00
130 forum posts
12 photos

Second the lignum vitae suggestion, and ash for the handle, beyond question.

If you've got a bit of elm, fine, but my mentor Mr Blount always said it was unlucky to fell an elm ... they made coffins out of it!

Lignum vitae I first came across as the "stop end" for horses head collar ropes in stables. Those things went up and down brick walls a zillion times a day and never blinked.

Eug

Frances IoM28/05/2017 21:35:48
582 forum posts
22 photos

lgv_mlt.jpg

made a very simple mallet some 30+ years ago soon after buying my very simple wood lathe - the head was sold to me as lignum vitae - don't think it was that expensive at time (I was somewhat broke at time having just moved house and spending all my time making it habitable) - it has survived quite a bit of mistreatment and shows no sign of cracking - the handle is ash

bricky28/05/2017 23:45:10
367 forum posts
47 photos

I have had a framed mallet for many years and the heads are ash and have worn well.A friend of mine who is an agricultural engineer buys lignum vitae in a log 900mm long 150mm diameter which I make into 4"*1.25" bearings for food mills.Doing this favour has wrecked my bandsaw blade it's very hard.I was given six old telegraph pole arms and was told that they were made from iron wood ,I used them for needles for supporting brickwork whilst forming the opening below and fitting a lintel.They were 3" square and even with holes for the insulators they never broke ,a redish coloured timber with a straight grain.

Frank

David Paterson 430/05/2017 03:05:16
83 forum posts
8 photos

for wire wheels - rawhide side of a copper / rawhide mallet. will not mark the chrome and is heavy enough to lock on the hubs with a few hits.

grain orientation on the mallets shown will mark very quickly on small cross-section steel. I would suggest a banded piece with an end-grain face. Almost any hardwood except the Australian and tropical varieties that have mineral inclusions - eg merbau - as there is always a risk they will mark the surface.

many Australian hardwoods have a very short curly grain that tends to collapse under this type of work (eg blakeleys and other red gum used for posts) so although dense, heavy and cheap, not ideal.

Ady130/05/2017 08:12:10
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3462 forum posts
513 photos

Good luck finding an old lignum vitae bowling ball for a fiver!

A tenner now, but they are still about

Ve-ry tough stuff, you will need a sharp tool

Phil Stevenson30/05/2017 08:25:18
70 forum posts
13 photos
Posted by Ady1 on 30/05/2017 08:12:10:

Good luck finding an old lignum vitae bowling ball for a fiver!

A tenner now, but they are still about

Ve-ry tough stuff, you will need a sharp tool

Well spotted! This is a bargain for anyone wanting to make three top notch mallets. I once attended a woodturning demonstration by a bloke who made lignum vitae bowling balls for a firm (Merseyside maybe?). Remarkably skillful job getting the bias etc to spec; all done by hand, "touch like a gynaecologist".

Jon Gibbs30/05/2017 08:58:44
738 forum posts

Sorry I'm late to this thread but I wouldn't recommend elm for mallet heads - it's resistant to splitting for sure but it's far too soft IMHO.

If you can't get lignum, which is obviously a good choice, apple or hornbeam are both heavier and tougher than elm. They are both better than beech too IMHO.

Jon

Martin Kyte30/05/2017 09:07:33
1404 forum posts
9 photos

Have a go at this site aimed at wood turners.

**LINK**

Lignum is good, Leadwood heavy but not sure about impact resistance. Plenty of beech available. Box is another wood often used for mallets.

regards Martin

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