Tuesday, December 31, 2013


My daughter recently suggested I post a blog on favourite tools.  It got me thinking and I've concluded that all my favourites have one thing in common; they feel right.

As age creeps up on me, I appreciate more and more how repetitive movements wear on the body, and the importance of properly designed tools.  Nowadays we call it ergonomics, but I prefer the old fashioned "it feels right".

Mallets were the first tools that came to mind when I started thinking about my favourites.  I own several but these two are special for different reasons.

I like the feel of either mallet; the balance is good and the weight is right for me.  But each conjures up different emotions when they come to hand.
The uppermost one in the photo, I made myself, mostly to see if I could do it.  Turning a scrap piece of hard maple burl and attaching a peeled hickory stick, the result was a handsome looking mallet.  Imagine my delight when it turned out to be wonderful to use!  Because the handle isn't symmetrical, I can tell without looking which face I'm using.  Every time I use it, I'm thankful that scrap wood didn't end up in the stove.
The second mallet was turned by my father out of a single piece of hard maple that his father in law had given him many years before.  He turned it on a crappy little Canadian Tire lathe that my mother and I gave him for Christmas before I was married.
Both Dad and his father in law were farmers and woodworkers.  I never knew my grandfather as he died by the time I was two, so to receive in the mail a mallet made from wood that had been in the hands of my woodworking grandfather was a gift above all others.
Every time I pick up that mallet, I think of my father, my grandfather and the little house in Yellowknife, 3000 miles away, where my adult woodworking life began.

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