Wednesday, 27 August 2008

That green mallet


Over the last several months, quite a few people have noticed and asked about the “green mallet” in the background of many of my photos. Here is the story...

I have never used or owned a proper mallet and when my friend Andrew Dix heard this - his wheels quietly started spinning. A few months later a package arrived.



Everything about this simple looking tool made sense to me and more importantly - every detail had been carefully planned out... nothing was accidental. The shape of the head was elegant, but also performs its function perfectly. The slight taper put a bit more weight at the top - where maximum force can be applied while striking. The handle is shaped in a way that your hand holds the mallet in a balanced position.




But the above photo is what really did it for me. This tells me the person who made this tool is aware of function first, but the aesthetic is just as important. Andrew took the time to rotate the endgrain of the handle so it lined up with the endgrain of the Verrawood head. And the Padauk wedge bisects it perfectly. This may seem like an insignificant detail - but this is the sign of a toolmaker who is passionate, thoughtful and knows when to add a “touch”.

I have been using this mallet daily ever since it arrived, and I have not a single complaint or comment to improve on it. There is a lovely dark band around the head where it has struck the ends of many of my Imai chisels. Aside from the discoloration - there is no damage. I suspect Riley and Lucas will be using a pristine mallet when I am long gone.

Very shortly after this mallet arrived, I contacted Andrew to (strongly) suggest that he consider making these available to the public. He was at first a little surprised and reluctant - but every time someone sent me a note to ask about the mallet, I contacted Andrew to let him know of the interest. I am thrilled that he has gathered appropriate materials and is now prepared to take on a few commissions.

The base mallet has a Verrawood head and either Cocobolo or East Indian Rosewood handle (any wedge material) . The price for this mallet is $250 US. He also has a good supply of African Blackwood, Kingwood, Ebony, Palisander Rosewood, Brazilian Tulipwood, Bois de Rose and Zircote as alternative handle material. The mallets can range from 16oz. to 24oz.

Andrew Dix can be reached by phone (804)678-9246 or email; dixja@vcu.edu

If anyone is interested - an offcut from your plane would make a wonderful wedge in one of Andrews mallets.

5 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

Aloha Konrad,

I am so jealous in a good way of all your toys. I was wondering when you would get around to telling the story of the green mallet. I want to know about the hammer head in the background. Is that Masayuki?? I hope you post about that next!!

29 August 2008 at 20:11  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Matthew,

I was wondering if anyone would pick up on the hammer head in the background... but did not think anyone would recognize the maker so quickly! I am impressed.

I was in England last weekend and found a wonderful piece of English boxwood that I brought home to use for the handle. While it is not Gumi - it is as close as I can get. I will post about it once the wood dries out a bit more. I am working on a rather long post about my trip to Westonbirt... stay tuned.

Warmest wishes,
Konrad

29 August 2008 at 21:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A strong second to Konrad's remarks about Andrew's mallet. I am fortunate enough to have one, and can tell you it is the last mallet you will need (or want!). It wants for nothing, in terms of comfort, nice fat grip, heavy blow, and durability. Hammers and mallets are the most-used tools in the shop, so may as well have the one you like to pick up. Christmas is coming!

Wiley

1 September 2008 at 14:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Konrad,
That is one beauty of a mallet. A small point though. You said you liked the aesthetic detail of lining up the grain of the handle with the grain of the head. Quite true, but the real purpose is so the wedge doesn't split apart the head if the tenon grain (handle in this case) is perpendicular to the head grain. Thanks again for all these fantastic blogs! I love 'em!
All the best, Jon Fiant

P.S. I haven't forgotten about the persimmon I promised you.

3 September 2008 at 21:15  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi John,

You are absolutely correct about the grain orientation being functional first. Sorry for the oversight on my part. I guess I have seen too many examples where this was not done.

Take care,
Konrad

3 September 2008 at 21:20  

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