by Brendan Gaffney
Well-fit joinery (not too loose, not too tight) and well-planned glue-ups rarely need much persuasion – but I am not always lucky enough to find myself with either of those. In the past, I’ve used big rubber mallets, small sledges and framing hammers (with a block of wood, of course) to bring home tight joints or break apart a glue joint.
During a recent glue-up, I slipped and ended up with a hammerhead-shaped ding in a workpiece from a glue-up gone wrong. I’ve seen a number of recommended rubber and dead-blow mallets, but I remembered one we had at College of the Redwoods (now the Krenov School) – the Lixie Dead Blow Mallet. This messy glue-up was what I needed to finally get around to ordering one.
Lixie makes a wide range of mallets, from a small 10 ounce to a massive 110 ounce “Mjölnir” of sorts. I went with a comfortable size, a 30-ounce mallet with 11⁄2“-diameter heads. I’ve found find this to be a comfortable weight for general furniture assembly.
What I like most about the Lixie mallets is the various types of replaceable heads. The standard mallet ships with black (hard) and green (medium) heads, but I ordered the orange-red (soft) head as well (for an additional $10.95). The orange head can be swung with serious force without leaving a trace of the blow (even in pine) – no more wooden block to miss when swinging the mallet. All of the heads are very durable, as well.
The grooved hickory handle is novel and the grooves help with the grip, but I felt I still needed to rough up the slick finish a bit with some coarse sandpaper to get a really solid grip on it.
The hammers are made in the U.S., and the steel shot in the head means there is little to no rebound, even when swinging for the fences. I’ll show those cranky joints who’s boss, now!
From the February 2018 issue