Mallet Rant – VIDEO

by | Mar 6, 2015 | 21 comments



Here’s video blog number one. I’m starting out with a quick rant about ‘lumpy’ my mallet since this was one of our most repeated comments from the previous videos.


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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Ken Haygarth

    Paul Sellers favourite chisel hammer, and I love the lump hammer ;)

  2. Chris Buckingham

    You are spot on with your theory of striking a chisel with a large metal hammer, the heavier the hammer, the lighter and more controlled strike you can give, if you take this theory to the limit by using a tiny toffee hammer you would have to strike with such velocity that it is doubtful that you would hit the chisel accurately, with a broader faced heavy hammer it is very much easier to both hit the chisel, and drive it in to the depth of the bevel. Your Thor hammer also has the advantage of having screw in faces which are also available in Copper, these add more weight if required.

    • Richard

      Thanks Chris, that copper sounds nice.

  3. Gary

    After seeing Paul Sellers use his Chisel hammer I started using it. Richard only affirms that. I like it way better then what I was using. One of those round one piece jobbers.

  4. Martyn Chick

    Brilliant Richard ! I look forward to the series. I use the Thorax on PS recommendation as well 🙂 .. Do keep a lump hammer for setting hold fasts though. Thanks

    • Richard

      Cheers Martyn, always have a lump hammer handy 😉

  5. Vic Tesolin

    I love using metal hammers on chisels for all the reasons you mention in the video. I think people assume that a metal hammer will damage wood without giving it a try.
    Good of you to shed some light on this…I like your new video format…Vic

    • Richard

      Hi Vic, I thick perception can hold us back in a lot of things. Looking forward to your book 🙂

  6. Kirk Zabolio

    I have a lumpy like yours and have used it from time to time also have a traditional wood mallet and which I used quite a lot in the past but I now use Paul’s type of chisel hammer all the time. Wonderful to see you back on video. Your shows are always interesting and informative.

  7. Kevin

    Welcome back, Richard, good to see you again. I think your vid demonstrates that the only right way is the one that works for you. If you have gotten expert at using bricks to bonk your chisels, and they’re no worse for the wear, then it’s the right way for you.

    I use a rawhide mallet that I got for leather working about 35 years ago. It works fine, but it’s a bit light. Good for light work, but I do have to put some muscle into it on harder woods or deeper cuts.

    Thanks for the info on the Thor, I think I will see if I can find one over here across the pond.


  8. Stefan

    Brilliant Post.
    Since a while I’m using a safety hammer too.
    I’m using a Wiha which is a German product and you can get it with different hammer head insets.
    I’ve got it in two different weights. A light one for finer chiseling work like dovetails. And a heavier one for assembly work
    For me they have got a better feedback then a usual mallet.


  9. jimmy

    nice explanation , i used to use an old lumpy hammer in my green oak framing days , it worked just fine .

  10. David Charlesworth


    Splendid. My mallets have been mouldering away on a high shelf for about 35 years.

    I like a 375gram barrel shaped, Japanese hammer. Large face area!


  11. Graham

    I love my traditional wooden mallet, its easy to use and very comfortable but I’ve often experienced the sort of things you mentioned, because it’s lighter I need to swing it harder and it gives poor feedback when setting and adjusting plane irons which is why I’ve actually been considering getting a mallet like the Thor you mentioned (not sure if those are available in Canada but we do have similar designs available).

    Very much enjoyed your comments on claw hammers. I had never considered that the issue was not the steel itself but rather the likelihood of glancing blows from the edge of the face. I also never quite understood why people thought brass was fine but steel/iron was not but thinking about your comment on claw hammers, it does make me realize that a lot of the brass mallets I’ve seen are either round or have very rounded faces (in contrast to claw hammers) so maybe it isn’t the “softness” of brass that makes them safe but rather the designs that are in common use.

    Great rant.

  12. Bill on Vancouver Island

    Great to have you back! Very interesting as always. Harking back to schooldays (50 years or so) Force equals mass times acceleration (Isaac Newton?) which means for the same force you have to swing faster with a lighter hammer/mallet.But as someone has already pointed out “whatever turns your crank”. It’s all good. Happy days.

  13. Philip

    Very interesting video. I work in the printing trade and we have two Thor hammers they are tools of the trade and are used in the cutting and creasing side where cartons are made for hammering down wooden forms and metal cutting rules.
    I have been a keen woodworker all my life but it never occurred to me to use a Thor hammer as a mallet. It’s a brilliant idea might just borrow one to try it out.
    Glad to see you back

  14. Derek

    One arm bigger than the other? Like you are getting Popeye arms from using Lumpy? “I eat me spinach, so I’m strong to the finish, I’m Richard the woodworker!” Too funny.

    Very nice video. I use the Thorax as well and find it to be a fantastic mallet. The soft face is great for seating joints and doesn’t mar the wood at all, while the hard face really “lumps” it like you say.

    I think the Internet gets people all worked up about such things, pondering with anxiety about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. It’s always some anxiety-provoking controversy or another. Who cares if you use a sledgehammer, so long as it works for you.

  15. mike murray

    When I built my workbench not long ago, I used a wooden mallet and a blue handled Stanley bench chisel for some joints on the bench. There was a sharp, rather loud “crack” sound to be heard each time I struck the chisel. I have tinnitus really bad and sharp noises like come from striking the chisel with the mallet really set my tinnitus off. I had also noticed Richard’s use of the “lump” hammer so I looked around to find one to experiment with. I found a 3# engineer’s sledge. I liked it but even though the noise seemed a little less, I still left the bench after using it with aggravated ringing which continues for a long time after being subjected to such loud noise. If you don’t experience tinnitus now, feel lucky. I have it every hour I am awake. Sounds sort of like the high pitched whining sounds I remember hearing when close to a gas turbine running. Anyway, the Engineer’s hammer seemed to produce less noise than a wooden mallet when hitting the chisel but still not low enough noise level where it didn’t bother me. So, one day when I was in the local Habitat Restore, I found a Great Neck, 32 oz. soft and hard faced dead blow mallet similar to what Richard has there. I tried it with the chisel and new right away that it was by far the best thing to use. Virtually no loud noise. I still have tinnitus awful but at least using that mallet doesn’t give me worsened ringing so I enjoy the woodworking way more. Like I say, if you don’t have tinnitus now feel lucky and you might want to ensure that you don’t expose your hearing to loud noises unnecessarily so down the road you don’t have problems with the ringing in the ears like I do.

  16. Jim

    Do you have the specific model and weight that you recommend? Thanks.

  17. mike murray

    Hi Richard,
    The “lump hammer” you have there is interesting. Have you ever determined the origin of it? I’ve not seen another like it. I’m wondering where and when it would have been made and for what purpose. Looks to be some sort of cross pean and possibly for smithing what, I don’t know. I would imagine it is old, old.

  18. Christopher Johnston

    Leave the Lump alone.


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