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.