How to use a carver’s mallet?
When working on more complex projects especially that involve hardwood, a mallet is crucial as it is the only way a woodcarver can produce enough force to cut through the wood while applying the required technique needed to shape the carving.
1. Place the chisel in the area that you want to chip off or cut through. When using a chisel in a conjunction with a mallet be sure to ignore the handle and hold the chisel closer to the edge for a more precise placement.
2. When using a mallet, pay attention to the side that you hit with. It can be either of the two faces, however, you should never use the part in between them as it will both break your mallet overtime and split the wood.
3. As previously mentioned, you can control the force of the mallet by holding it in different ways. The closer your hand is to the top of the mallet the less strong every strike will be. For stronger strikes hold the mallet closer to the end of the handle.
Most of the time you will use the mallet together with a chisel, here are a few things to keep in mind that will bring you better results:
- Hold the mallet with your dominant hand and the chisel with your non-dominant
- Have space to place the mallet down when you want to help position the chisel with your second hand. Make sure the surface does not have a slope and that you can pick up the mallet without much effort
- Keep your chisel sharp at all time, there are a hundred reasons why this is important and not a single one that suggests otherwise
- You never want to use your mallet to hit anything that is harder than the material it is made of, therefore nails and such items require a hammer and not a mallet.
Overall, this everything there is to using a mallet in a nutshell. Hit it on the chisel to force it through the wood, be careful when using it, and you are going to get the hang of it very quickly.
Alternatives to a carver’s mallet
Using other types of mallets such as a kitchen mallet or the rubber mallet will only work as well as a canned food can. It is acceptable for one time, but it will not do much good using them continuously for your tools or works.
When should you not use a mallet?
This tool is never struck with a mallet as the handles are tang and the edge is sharpened to 13-15º. In other words, you will break the wood and the tool if you do hit a mallet over it.
Almost all other chisels are manufactured to be used in conjunction with the mallet. Higher quality tools will also last longer and take longer to deform when you use a mallet on them.