Making A Mallet From A Junk Headboard

It’s been about a month now since I found a mattress and headboard leaning against a dumpster and decided to snag them for the wood. You might be surprised at how much good wood can be found everywhere. So far I’ve made a few bandsaw scoops from part of the headboard and a pocket hole step stool from part of the mattress. I still have over half of the wood from each still waiting to be used.

This is another one of those “get out in the shop and just make anything” type of projects. I didn’t know what I wanted to make I just knew that I was going to make something. So after pondering for a bit I decided to make my first mallet. Because the purpose of a mallet is to literally take a pounding the oak from the headboard posts is a better choice than the poplar from the mattress.

mallet made from headboard (1)

The thickest part of the posts is where the rails connected via pinned mortise and tenon joints. After removing the turned sections on top and squaring up the bottom I was able to see the condition of the mortises.

mallet made from headboard (2)

My original plan was to flush the tenons with the top surface but seeing that the tenons weren’t at full depth I had to resort to another plan. With a crappy blade in the table saw I turned the mortises into dados. I used a crappy blade here because the tenons were pinned with nails that I had no way of removing. Using this crappy blade was a reminder of how awesome my go-to Marples blade is. I did this to both pieces.

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At this point I was still unsure of how the mallet was to be constructed. I knew a dado wasn’t part of the final plan though. Measuring with a digital caliper will give me the exact width I need to fill it.

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I didn’t have enough scrap oak to fill the dados so I chopped up the second post piece for a filler.

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And glued it in with some persuasion from my Rock-n H Woodshop mallet that Drew Short sent me. This mallet will be different than the one Drew made. That one is a dead blow mallet and is filled with metal pellets.

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The design I finally settled on was to make a 3 degree wedge on the end of a handle that slides in a 3 degree mortise in the head material. Two ways of making the mortise were to drill it out on the drill press and chisel a 3 degree edge on two sides or cut it in half and make two matching dados and glue it back. I chose to cut it in half.

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A piece from the other post was used for the handle. And a 3 degree wedge was formed at the end with the table saw. I had to rig up a guide to run across my fence to safely push the vertical piece of oak through the blade. Be prepared for some smoke when cutting a thick piece of hardwood with the grain vertical. Especially with a crappy blade. After the tapers are cut the rest of the handle was roughed out on the bandsaw to match the thickness of the thin end of the wedge.

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I shaped the rest of the handle by hand. Nothing fancy though. I just rounded the edges and kept it simple. Here’s another reason why I love my sliding Moxon vise so much. The jaws can easily skew to match the 3 degree angles of the wedge faces. So awesome!

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The tapered dados in the head were easily cut by turning my miter gauge to 3 degrees and hogging out the material. Then I could test them with the handle.

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And glue them back together. I initially thought this would weaken the project but it’s been proven that wood glue is actually stronger than the wood itself. We’ll see…

mallet made from headboard (10)

The head was way too long for the handle so I cut it down and tapered the impact faces to 1 degree. A test fit verified that the proportions looked good and the weight felt good.

mallet made from headboard (12)

I wanted to chamfer the impact faces slightly to soften up the hard corners and edges a little bit. I traditionally would have use a router here but I angled these faces by 1 degree and wasn’t sure if that slight angle would result in noticeably different size chamfers so I decided to have a little fun and hand plane them. Another great use for my sliding Moxon vise. Have I told you how much I love this vise yet?

mallet made from headboard (13)

After a quick hand sanding and a bath in mineral oil the mallet was done. The handle slides in from the top and is friction fit due to the wedge. Not too bad for a few pieces of junk wood that would otherwise be rotting underground right now.

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Hey Pinterest users! Just a reminder that you can follow me on Pinterest to stay updated with all of my projects and I would love for you to pin this one if you enjoyed it!

mallet made from headboard (17) mallet



  1. Hello this is my skype rolandas962. I am a novice in this field. My specialty is a welder but really likes to work with wood. Many thanks for the good video lessons they helped me a lot

  2. Great project! I have wanted to make my own mallet for a while. I was Inspired by Steve Ramsey’s design, which is very similar to yours. I have a solid “insert species” here from a pallet runner that I salvaged. I hope to use it.

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