Friday, October 10, 2014

A Workshop's Gentle Persuader: The Rubber Mallet

A Workshop's Gentle Persuader: The Rubber Mallet

Some kind of hammer is most likely the first tool most people accumulate, whether their destiny is to become a carpenter or a hedge fund manager on Wall Street. My first tool, which I still have more than fifty years later, was a wood-handled 16-oz finishing hammer. Now that one has been joined by all sorts of hammers, such as a classic Estwing rock hammer and an 8-pound sledge. All these metal hammers have hard heads, though, so whenever I run into an situation that requires a little finesse I break out my Stanley Rubber Mallet.

The Mallet's Design

I’m talking old-school design: the mallet isn’t a 21st-century technological wonder with Bluetooth and iOS 8.0; and it’s not constructed of miracle nanotech materials. It’s simply a cylindrical hunk of black rubber sitting on a simple wood handle made of hickory, like baseball bats once were, and given a coat of lacquer. The head has a little heft, weighing in at 18 ounces, and is made of a tough yet yielding synthetic rubber compound. The flat striking face is 2½ inches in diameter to reduce the chances of marring or denting a delicate-ish surface, but it still lets you smack something hard enough to nudge it in the right direction.

Using a Rubber Mallet

I've used my mallet many times over several decades for tasks like closing lids of paint cans (it prevents dents around the rim), to set a brick or paver in sand, and to gently urge wood and metal parts into tight spots. The head by itself weighs enough for most gentle "nudges," but the 12-inch handle gives you the leverage for applying a solid whack to more stubborn bits. Its broad head and relatively soft surface cut back on dents, dings and smudges; though it’ll leave a black mark on a rough surface. After many years of use, the head is still firmly seated on the handle.

Every workshop needs a rubber mallet, and Stanley's inexpensive version will do just fine for all but the most style-conscious DIYer. Besides which, there still isn’t an app for that…


PLUS: inexpensive, simple, non-marring material
MINUS: may leave a smudge on a rough surface
What They’re Saying: A well-equipped workshop needs a rubber mallet, and Stanley's version is economical and well made.

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