Sunday, May 11, 2014

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Mother's Day Turn - O - Rama! The kitchen mallet turning project

Hi Everyone,

First of all Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there wherever you may be and a very special day to all of you moms who work in wood-may your tools always be sharp and you never run out of wood!

Today's turning project is my absolute favorite thing to turn: a kitchen mallet and here is a photo of the one I've made:

I've been making these for a while now and they are very simple to make. All of the mallets I've made have been made from baseball bat billets that come from a supplier in Washington state called Fine Hardwoods. They specialize in bat billets and I use the fungo bat billets that they sell. The lumber is perfectly dried, straight grained, and very solid and heavy which is what you want for a kitchen mallet. While I've never used a laminated billet for this, I don't see why you couldn't use this provided it's well laminated and it's made from hardwood. To finish the mallet, I used mineral oil.

The billets are 36" in length and 3" in diameter and I have maple, red birch, and ash in stock. The billets also make terrific rolling pins.

I know what you're thinking at this point-why would anyone want a kitchen mallet? These are really good for pounding meat, crushing fruit for jam making, breaking up ice or breaking up bags of frozen veggies, AND they make the best mashed potatoes in town! And you can use the narrow end to crush herbs or seeds. The mallet can be used on both ends and as the ends are rounded, you can use them in a bowl. And if you have friends or family who are foodies, they make a terrific gift.

Ok, time to get started! Here's the photos:

I cut off a 10" section from a red birch billet and mounted it between centers for turning:

And I marked off approximately 1" on both ends as waste. You can skip this step and use a billet that is 8" in length-you'll have a mallet at the end with holes that will need to be doweled but that isn't a problem:

Here you can see the ends have been turned down to about 1" in diameter. This will allow me to reach and shape the ends of the mallet a little more easily:

Next I've marked off the section that will become the handle. This is 4" long and the handle is important-it has to fit an adult hand comfortably so don't stint on this section of the mallet:

Here you can see that I've begun to narrow it down. I used my large roughing gouge for this but a spindle gouge will work well here too:

In this photo I've begun to shape the narrow end of the mallet:

And here it is a few minutes later. You can see the basic shape beginning to form:

Now I'm going to begin shaping the large end of the mallet on the left:

...this involves narrowing down the section closest to the handle and leaving the wide end as wide as possible. You want the mallet end to be wide, slightly rounded, and heavy. This really saves your hands if you have a lot of pounding to do:

In this photo I've flipped the mallet around and I'm beginning to round off the narrow end of the mallet:

Here's a closeup of the narrow end:

Here is a photo of the wide end of the mallet after it's been shaped:

Next I sanded it to 250 grit and oiled it well with mineral oil. It's still attached to the lathe at this point:

After the above photo, I took a fine toothed saw and cut off the waste wood on the ends. Then I filed the ends smooth. Here is a photo of the narrow end. It's been smoothed and oiled:

And this is the wide end of the mallet. It hasn't been oiled yet. It also got a generous layer of oil applied to the surface:

And here is the finished mallet:

And that's it. It took me about an hour to make this.

I've gotten the dates for the farmer's market I'm going to be selling at and I'll announce those tomorrow.

Thanks for dropping by the wood shop. Have a great day and see you soon.

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