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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