History of the Mallet

"The tools of one's trade, perhaps more than any other set of objects, help to define who we are as individuals"  -- Mihalyi Csikszentimihalyi, sociologist

History

Most carving is done by pushing the gouge with your hand, but sometimes when carving a very hard wood or using a gouge with a wide cutting edge or extra control is needed, the tool needs to be driven by tapping the end of the handle with a mallet. Woodworkers use mallets to chop out mortises or large waste areas in dovetails.   Mallets have square or cylindrical shaped heads with handles. 

The English-style mallet is made in two parts with a handle secured to the head with a wedge.  This style is probably a carry-over from the days of stone masonry, when mallets were used against solid-iron chisels and their heads needed to be replaced frequently.  The second type of mallet is turned from a solid piece of wood, traditionally made from a hardwood such as lignum vitae.