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;

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


Anonymous Anonymous 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,

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!


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,

3 September 2008 at 21:20  

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Monday 18 August 2008

15-1/2" A1ss panel

A short post - just to show some photos of a very recent plane.

A quick kiln update. It is currently running and water is being removed. It is a dehumidification process by way of a household dehumidifier. I will check the moisture content in a few days and report back. There are a few pieces of Ebony in the kiln right now and I am most curious to check the results. If it works - my shop will turn into a flurry of Ebony and stainless steel parts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW!! That is stunning. Would make a good partner for an A5ss!


18 August 2008 at 18:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love the very high polish of the infill, especially the front bun. It looks great with the polished chamfers. Yet another masterpiece.


19 August 2008 at 05:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very handsome planes. Using those would surely build up one's muscles.


20 August 2008 at 20:49  
Blogger truck said...

Nice plane
question how did you make the dehumidifier kiln

18 September 2008 at 06:59  

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Monday 11 August 2008

A Scottish visitor with California plates

I first met Stuart Page at The festival of the Tree last August. He was there for the full 3 days and spent a good portion of his time bouncing between Rob Cosman, John Lloyd and myself. He was very enthusiastic, full of great questions and insight - we all loved having him around our respective booths.

Many months ago, Stuart contacted me to let me know he was planning a 3 month travelling tour of North American furniture makers and toolmakers and was wondering if he could stop in for a visit. It was great to hear from him again and I was quite excited to have him over.

On June 23rd - Stuart arrived in Los Angeles. He has been keeping a blog - curiously named, One hairy arm goes west. One of his first stops was to see Sam Maloof - and I am very envious of that visit. Sam is on that very short list of people I would dearly like to meet (along with Harrison Ford and Maynard James Keenan). And after Stuarts description of their time together - I am all the more green.

He arrived on Tuesday afternoon (July 23rd) around 3. I was on the main floor working away on an A1ss panel plane (more on that in another entry). He had just driven from Calgary... and to use his words - was a little “road worn”.

Stuart was very direct about his intentions the minute he walked in to the shop. He did not want to get in the way of my regular schedule and workday... but was hoping for a “fly on the wall” approach. I was pleased (and a little relieved) to hear this - and it turned out to be a wonderful experience.

At one point, Stuart offered to help in the shop with things that are challenging for someone to do on their own. Hmmmm... a shop helper....?

I need to back up a bit. I have two amazing sets of planes that I am itching to start into... but I am waiting for the last few % of moisture to come out of the Ebony. Quite frankly - I am really tired of waiting... so I started thinking about building a kiln. In the June 2006 of Woodwork magazine (No. 99), Ejler Hjorn-Westh wrote a wonderful article about building a kiln for under $500. This seemed like the perfect project for Stuart and I. I handed him the article and he just smiled... perfect.

Hmmm... where to put it?

We walked around the shop to find an empty spot for a 20"x 20"x 7' item. The best location was the first one we discussed - above one of the 48"to 60" shorts storage areas.

I had some scrap plywood from previous adventures - but we needed two 4'x8' sheets of plywood. I figured I would treat Stuart to the full North American experience and introduce him to the often understaffed “Orange Box”. I shouldn't complain... they did cut the two sheets to size for us.

Anyway - a few hours later - we had a kiln. Here are a few photos.

It tucked in perfectly above the shorts storage - and I didn't even have to move the phone or the furnace switch!

Here it is with the door open.

The baffle is a 1/4" piece of peg board.

The opening on the right is the dry air return to keep the air circulating.

I will be drying a test piece of Ebony to see how it goes. I will certainly post the results - regardless of how it turns out.

Thanks again Stuart for all your help with the kiln and keeping me company between piening, lapping and shaping.

Oh, and the one hairy arm... it really is ONE hairy arm... the other is pretty clean shaven.


Blogger Unknown said...

Forgive my ignorance, but what is the mechanical apparatus? It looks like the guts of an air conditioner or dehumidifier.


17 August 2008 at 08:47  

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