I use a mallet a lot when I’m in the shop. If I’m assembling pieces, I’m knocking it together with a mallet. If I’m mortising or dovetailing, I’m using a mallet. For adjusting a wooden plane, I usually use a mallet. I’ve also used it to pound a bellied plane iron flat so I didn’t have to grind on it quite so much.
I made a traditional joiners mallet once upon a time. The head was of persimmon and the helve of ash, connected with a tapered through-mortise that only got tighter with use.
But while watching Paul Sellers, I noticed the mallet he used was actually a panel-beating hammer for automotive work. I was intrigued and bought one. I’ve used it pretty extensively, and can say that it is without a doubt the bees’ knees.
I will admit to a little scepticism at first, but after I’d used it for a while, I became so attached to it that I gave away my joiner’s mallet. The Thorex 712 provides a much more focused delivery of force. It’s much better for hitting chisel handles because all the force is right behind where you’re hitting. It’s a little difficult to describe without feeling the two, but the closest I can come by way of common analogy is sectional density.
When talking about rifle bullets and penetration, one term that gets tossed around a lot is “sectional density”. In broad strokes, given two bullets of the same mass, the one that is smaller in diameter (and thus longer) will penetrate more deeply into the target. It is also more aerodynamic (that’s into “ballistic coefficient” and is a different value and discussion). It concentrates the same force into a smaller area. Or, if I have to get my foot stepped on, I’d rather the person wear tennis shoes than spike heels.
This mallet is the same way. Instead of the force being spread over a large area, it is concentrated. It isn’t rough on the tools because of the nylon heads, but it is more effective. I use the hard, white face on chisel handles (and it is gentler on them than my wooden mallet was), and the soft, grey face for knocking assemblies together because it doesn’t mar the surfaces I’ve so labouriously planed.
So if you’ve been using a wooden mallet for woodworking, try out this hammer of Thor. After you do, the wooden mallet will seem incredibly unwieldy. And as a bonus, the Thorex takes up less space in the toolbox!