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Since leaving Popular Woodworking in June 2011, I have avoided writing tool reviews. In fact, I have been thrilled to focus my attention on other things.

But I am coming out of retirement momentarily to discuss a tool that I have been waiting years – yes, years – for: the Blue Spruce Toolworks Joiner’s Mallet.

I’ve been hoping that Dave Jeske at Blue Spruce would produce a square-head joiner’s mallet after I fell in love with the round-head mallet he began producing years ago. Both his square and round mallets have a maple head that has been infused with acrylic. The process makes the tool nigh indestructible. I have made thousands and thousands of dovetails with the round mallet, and it is just starting to break in. A little.


I first got wind of the square mallet when I was at the French Oak Roubo Project session in Barnesville, Ga., this summer. One of the other participants had a prototype of this square mallet. I immediately swiped it and began using it to drive home my heavy-duty joints for the workbench I was building.

During the ensuing months, Jeske refined the handle a bit and introduced it at Woodworking in America. I snatched his floor model from his hands and gave him my credit card.

“Charge whatever you like,” I said.

The joiner’s mallet is $115, which is a totally fair price for an American-made tool that will never wear out. Barring you using it for blacksmithing or swatting burning squirrels, it will be the last mallet you ever own.

I now get to retire my ugly rubber dead-blow mallet, and I am going to find a good home for it. The dead-blow has served me faithfully for at least 15 years, but I’ve always disliked the fact that it looks like an extruded billy club.

Some technical details of the new square-head mallet: The Blue Spruce Joiner’s Mallet is sold as a 24 ounce mallet. Mine came in at 25 ounces with the hickory handle and leather hanging thong. My Champagne CH-2 rubber dead-blow is 24 ounces.

One face of the Blue Spruce’s head is maple. The other is covered in thick leather. This makes it ideal for both chopping and assembly/disassembly chores. And it looks 36 times better than the black rubber clown hammer.

So if you need a good joiner’s mallet, I can’t recommend any other tool more highly. Thanks Dave for finally producing this excellent tool.

You can buy the mallet through the Blue Spruce web site here.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Since I swiped acquired my mallet, Jeske has added a small brass liner to the hole for the leather thong. And he plans to introduce a lighter one (16 oz.) for $95. But don’t be a wus. Buy the big one.

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Showing 20 comments
  • amoscalie

    I just recently made two jointers mallets that I saw Roy make on his “Big Ash Mallet” episode. I gave one to a good friend of mine and he was delighted with it. Both mallet heads were made from Osage orange with hickory handles. Quite surprisingly chopping the mortise in the Osage was relatively easy and very precise. Roy took about 30 minutes to make his mallet and it took me a couple of hours, I’m guessing that Roy may have made more then just a few before.

  • rljatl

    What do you use to hit your holdfasts with?

  • ecp8

    Hate to be the one to say this, but you’re out of Woodford.

  • dkdrew

    I like that Kentucky water hiding behind the tool rack.

  • dkdrew

    I like the bottle of woodford (strategically or suspiciously?) hiding behind the tool rack. That’s a good Kentucky boy there.

  • bobcashman

    I made a round and square from scraps about 25+/- years ago. They work great and have lasted fine. I have no idea how much they weigh. They just work. Maybe an hour into each. They are not as pretty, but that seems a lot for a mallet to me.

  • BackWoods13

    If I can’t use it to swat a burning squirrel, I don’t want it.

  • semfi75

    Umm…you buy your mallets?

  • John Switzer

    That looks like just the tool I have been wishing for. I am going to have to have one.

  • tsstahl

    Is the infused really that versatile? I love my mallet, but I keep a rubber whacker on the bench for assembly and setting holdfasts. I learned long ago that the hitter should always be harder than the hittee.

    I have to admit that having both mallets around is a pain.

  • dave_b

    I love my round mallet, marking knife, and tool roll from Dave. He is a first rate guy and all the stuff he makes is as well. I think I will have to start saving my pennies. Maybe I can sell a kidney and get some of his chisels too….

  • rockyferraro

    I like Roy’s mystery mallet

  • KenCanDO

    I’m sure its nice tool but $145 for a mallet ??? I made one 25 years ago that has served me well. That is just so far out of my price range.

  • Niels

    My old beach mallet bit the dust a week after coming back from GA. I reluctantly bought a replacement knowing that within a year or two the same thing would happen and I would feel the same crippling sense of loss.

  • pmac

    Will you be retiring the round Blue Spruce as well?

  • igotwood

    What, no Thor references? I think that would help it sell.

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