I’m the most untraditional woodworker who came to traditional woodworking.
I just can’t stand wooden mallets.
To get any sort of clump from them they have to be massive; these huge cumbersome things.
And on top of that, they absorb everything. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit it, nowt happens.
You might remember that I used to use my lump hammer for woodworking. That was brilliant and really swiped through.
Then I moved to my Thor.
I got fed up with the grief ‘Lumpy’ was causing, but he does remain my favourite.
The Thor hammer was added to my kit because a lot of people were asking my thoughts on it. I bought one to try out, and liked it very much right away. Without question it is the best mallet I’ve used that I could recommend for you to buy.
But the Thor Mallet is not entirely unique.
I want to make this point because I’m asked so often ‘which Thor should I buy?’
I always say ‘the biggest’, which is certainly true.
But when I looked around recently to find a more accurate weight for my Thor, I realised they weren’t as widely available as I’d expected.
The Thor is an excellent tool and if you can get one then go for it.
But a big part of it’s appeal is the low cost, which may not apply if buying it is inconvenient, or if delivery to you is expensive.
I want to go through what makes the Thor so wonderful in order to help you choose an alternative if necessary.
It is just for twatting stuff with after all.
The Thor 712 (that’s the one I use), is a hammer. It’s not a mallet.
At least that’s what Thor recon – (on their website it’s classified as a hammer with nylon head.)
This is why I love it.
It is essentially a heavy metal head, which packs a punch, as well as giving me feedback. All the reasons I used ‘Lumpy’.
The head is finished with replaceable faces. Mine has a hard nylon one along with a softer grey face.
Like everything, I like to minimise my tools as far as possible, so I enjoy the idea of having the two face options.
That soft side’s great for knocking joints together without damaging the work, though whilst that’s nice it isn’t essential.
In practical use, I very rarely find myself using it.
The soft face lacks feedback, so even for those assembly tasks, I find myself hitting with the harder one.
It gives that ‘tap, tap, thud’. The sound deadens as the joint is seated.
Damage is rarely an issue anyway, since the harder the face, the more gentle you can be with the taps.
Using a lump hammer is elegant enough for me (the Thor just helps give me some dignity with it).
So What Are You Looking For When Choosing A Mallet?
When scrating around for the Thor online I noticed it’s not stocked by that many merchants, but a similar type of hammer was listed more often than not. By similar, I mean hammers with a heavy head, and replaceable plastic faces.
I can’t vouch for the quality of any of these, but whether it’s the Thor or not, I can offer a couple of pointers:
My mallet has a head of 38mm (1 1/4″) and weight of 650g (23 oz).
If it was available heavier then I’d go heavier.
Dense is good.
Hard nylon faces are all that you need and give the best feedback in use.
Some Uses For Your New Mallet
As well as being gentle enough to assemble your work, a nylon faced hammer is excellent as a general woodworking mallet.
It excels for morticing, and as dirty and gruff as this sounds, it combines wonderfully with a chisel that has a plastic handle, like my Marples. Those two together allow you to dig like a Jack Russell.
It’s not my choice for adjusting wooden planes. It can do it, but I prefer metal without question for tool adjustments, as the feedback is so tremendous.
Finally, don’t use it for hammering nails… even though I’ve done it.
If you’re setting up a tool kit and want to get it right first time, check out our full guide on the Complete (yet minimal) Hand Tools for Woodworking.
A Quick Update on the new Chair Build – we’ve been busy, and have gone through a full overview of the design process already. Today Chapter Three went live and we’re getting our design on to paper by learning how to create an isometric drawing. You’ll find the details here.