Monday, January 28, 2013

Double Sliding Dovetail Mallet - Basic Tools Project

I alway's thought the mallet Roy Underhill makes with the double, sliding dovetails was super cool.  Maybe someday I will make one, it looks like a fun project.

However I already have a mongo mallet named Trevor.  I intended to make a general-purpose mallet.  When I finished it, it was obvious that this was a badass mallet ideally suited for mortise chopping. 

What I really needed was something with a bit more finesse.  Trevor, although a really cool mallet, was built to make my joints come apart after a day of chopping dovetails.

So, in keeping with my Basic Tool Kit project theme, I made another one using only a few tools:  A jack plane, a ryobi saw, marking gauge, square, marking knife and a 3/4" chisel.

I noticed that Bob Rozaieski at the Logan Cabinet Shoppe has a lightweight mallet made of two contrasting pieces of 4/4 lumber.  I thought I would do the same, and here is what I came up with:

My new light weight mallet.
This mallet has a sliding dovetail, but only one.  I got the idea from Fairham's book.  He describes this joint as a good puzzle joint for practice, but with no practical use.  I decided to make it into a practical use.

Once again, I used Honduran mahogany scraps and a leftover bit of walnut I had rolling around.  Figured it would look neat that it was made to match Trevor.

My wife came up with the name Trevor for the big mallet.  I was thinking this one should have a name, too.  Unfortunately, the first thing that popped into my mind was "I bet The Frau would come up with something like Travis for this one."

So, that's it.  Trevor the Mallet, and his little brother, Travis.


  1. I had friends Trevor and Travis (brothers) growing up and this fits their description.

    Will your puzzle mallet need pinning/glue to prevent the head from flying off?

    1. Haha, what are the odds.

      I thought about pinning the head, but that required a tool that I don't have in my Basic Tool Kit. So I just used liquid hide glue. My guess is that this head will never come off. I don't envision myself using it for anything but light work. All the heavy lifting is for Trevor the Mallet, which has it's head in a tapered sliding dovetail mortise. I posted about this mallet a couple weeks ago, if you are interested.

  2. What do you envision striking with such a long narrow face?

    Jim B

    1. Hi Jim,

      Mostly this mallet will be for use with my chisels. I thought about the design on this one for a couple days, and decided that since none of my hammers have faces wider than this, I shouldn't have a problem. The height gives it a little extra mass.

      The only thing that will tell is use, though. I'll let you know how these mallets work after having used them for a while.

  3. I think that Trevor is looking good.
    I am also curious as to how it will work out with the lightweight mallet (Trevorette?) in real use.

    1. I have to say I really like the mahogany/walnut combination. The mahogany I got more than ten years ago off of eBay. Someone sold a bunch of offcuts about 8"x14". I heard that it was a good hand tool wood to practice on. I am just finally getting around to using it up.

      I have quite a bit of weird shaped wood that people got rid of. I can't wait to use it all up so I can get something new.

  4. Nice - looks like you named the little guy after me! Have you used it yet? I know Jim expressed concerns with the narrow face... I think I would be afraid of completely missing the chisel, but then again, you never know. If it works, then it's perfect!

    Good job with it.

    1. Thanks. I haven't got a chance to use it yet.

      The idea came from two sources: Bob Rozaieski has uses a mallet with similar dimensions, and the puzzle joint was in William Fairham's book.

      It looked fun to try, and all I am out if this mallet stinks is some scraps and one afternoon in the shop where I got to practice building a cool joint.