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Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Making a Fine Leather Mallet


I have been wanting to make a nice leather mallet ever since I saw the one Scott Grandstaff made. 

I recently acquired enough leather to make 2 of them, and fortunately my friend Marv Lowe is a highly skilled machinist, and I enlisted his help in making the metal parts.

I made 2 of the mallets, one for him and one for me. The project started with the metal.


I have been saving a large hunk of copper round stock for a very long time, and I finally found a use for part of it.  The top ring is a ½” thick, and the bottom ring is ¼” thick.  I had Marv make these ½” smaller in diameter than the leather would be.  The thickness provides the mass for the mallet. It would be too light without these. 

I also had Marv make an arbor for me to turn the leather discs into the cone shape I wanted.  The arbor allowed me to glue the discs together so I would not get them mixed up when I put them onto the metal shaft. It also allowed me to compress the leather.

Here the assembled cone has been turned, and it is still mounted on the arbor. I used a very sharp scraper to turn the outside.

The tool above it is an antique washer cutter that I have had for a long time, and this is the first time I have ever used it. It is a wonderful tool.

Here the washer stack has been installed onto the metal parts, and it is waiting for me to make a handle for it.

Here is the handle stock. Teak for me, and purple heart for Marv. He will most likely just display his, whereas I will actually be using mine.

And here they are in all their radiant beauty.  I used only wax for a finish.  I do not like film finishes on my handles.  You will notice that I decorated the handle on Marv’s mallet. Mine was left plain.

This project was a lot of fun to make, but I can’t recommend it to anyone else simply because of the amount of skills and tools required. I am certain that a simpler mallet can be made, and that I can heartily recommend.  I have been wanting this mallet for a long time, and now I finally have one.

June 2007

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