Chris Schwarz's Blog

Plastic Marries Wood in a New Mallet

Plastic mallets can be highly durable, but they always look like plastic. Wooden mallets look great, but they sure get beat up after a few years of use.

Now Dave Jeske at Blue Spruce Toolworks has produced a mallet where every cell of the wood is infused with acrylic. This results in a mallet that looks and feels like wood, but it takes a bad-dog beating like plastic.

Jeske had one of these mallets at the Woodworking in America conference, and I ordered one shortly after returning home. (Despite the fact that I got free admission, that conference turned out to be a very expensive weekend for me.)

The mallet arrived yesterday, and the entire staff went nuts over it. Senior Editor Glen D. Huey, who has a thing about both round mallets and figured maple, held onto it for such a long time that I was a little worried that I wasn’t getting it back.

Then, when I mentioned the mallet’s head was infused with acrylic, we all immediately went to the shop to beat some things with it. After some serious pounding, we could barely even make a smudge on the surface. This morning I took it into the shop and beat a chisel about 120 times as hard as I could on one spot on the mallet’s head.

Right now I’m looking at the mallet and cannot find the spot that took the beating.

The mallet weighs 16 ounces, the head is quilted maple and the handle is African blackwood. The two parts are joined with a stainless steel tenon and a small brass bead. If you’ve ever seen any of Jeske’s work, then you know that it is over-the-top beautiful. The mallet costs $80. Photos do not do it justice. Check it out here on the Blue Spruce site.

And yes, I know that you can build your own highly effective mallet using shop scraps or (if that’s still too expensive), may I recommend laminating together several hundred free stirring sticks from Starbucks.

Just sayin’.

If you want to read more about the acrylic infusing process (it’s fascinating), check out this links to WoodSure, which performs the process using vacuums. (Think kitchen countertops, bathroom floors.) Also take note that they can add dye during the process, which creates some pretty amazing results. The process is covered in more detail here.

Jeske also uses the same acrylic-infusing process with his bench chisels with great results.

It’s making me think what other tools could benefit from an acrylic injection.

– Christopher Schwarz

11 thoughts on “Plastic Marries Wood in a New Mallet

  1. Samson

    I’ve never yet been disappointed with my "Wood is Good" urethane mallets for uses like this. Have you ever used one of those? If so, how does they compare to this beauty?

  2. Neil

    Back to the mallet…….. odd I usually preferr talking about mixing material with wood.

    Anyway……I have this mallett and I also have the kind made of free stirring sticks from Starbucks. I pound hard with my Starbucks mallett and have found that the Bluespruce mallet is all about finese. It is remarkably balanced, I love it. The control you gain when you choke up on the handle is what this tools is all about.

    An absolutley wonderful mallet………Neil

  3. David Jeske

    Dean,
    I had the exact same reaction about the chisels! I checked out Adam’s chisels at the WIA conference in Berea. Sweet.

    Chris C.
    Bill Bolstad uses infused wood for tables that may see "abuse" such as plant stands and coffee tables. You could ask him how stable it would be for a router table. How about a spalted, curly maple router table 🙂
    http://www.bolstadboxes.com/tables.htm

    Dave

  4. Mike Lingenfelter

    When I first saw the picture of the mallet, I said it was too pretty to ever use! Hearing you say you can beat the snot out of it and not leave a mark, I think Dave is on to something here. It will interesting to see how it holds up over time.

    Mike

  5. Christopher Schwarz

    Those are Adam Cherubini-made chisels. I’m going to be writing about those shortly. Love them.

    Chris

  6. Christopher Schwarz

    We were thinking: Wouldn’t it be cool to have a curly maple table saw top?

    Maybe not.

    Probably a router table is a better answer.

    Yes you can machine it. It’s hard on bits and you gotta use carbide for best results.

    Chris

  7. Chris C

    I am thinking a router table top that is tough and
    stable. Does it machine more or less like normal
    wood? I have heard of using granite or cast iron for
    such things, but they are very difficult to machine in
    a woodworking shop. But maybe the acrylic injected wood
    is the answer.

    chris

  8. Randy Klein

    "It’s making me think what other tools could benefit from an acrylic injection."

    I’m thinking infills. Holtey said it himself, "The basic problem of infill design remains that the plane is vulnerable to the dimensional instability of wood."

    I wonder if this would solve that…

  9. Mattias in Durham, NC

    That’s pretty nifty. This brings up all kinds of ideas for how to use this new material. Would it be possible to make solid wood panels that do not move with humidity? Will it move with temperature instead, like plastic? Would boards treated like this bend easily if heated up to, say, 266°F? Does it machine a lot cleaner, e.g. for figured wood? I assume the $30/bf price will come down if this gets to be more common.

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