The Ugly Mallet

You know the old saying, “When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail…”, well mine is “When all you have is a CNC, everything looks like a CAD / CAM problem.” I’m gearing up for a long distance move, and so I was staring at my scrap bin and trying to figure out what to do with it all. I had some exotic hardwoods in there that I scavenged from the bargain bin at Woodcraft (its a US retailer of carpentry stuff) and hated to give or throw them away. So the idea came to me to make this…

Behold, the Ugly Mallet. A frankenstein of 4 woods: The head is zebrawood faces on an Ash core, and the handle is canarywood on an Alder core. I don’t own a bandsaw, or a sanding station, or much beyond hand tools, a chop saw, and a small planer. So normally you don’t need to use a CNC for this, but you make with what you have.

Biggest lesson learned is that my two sided machining technique still needs some alignment practice. The glue / tape method of workholding continues to work like a charm though.

Most of the roughing was with ole trusty #201 .25" end mill, at around 65 IPM and 21000 RPM and no more than .1" DOC. Although I did crank up the feed in CM4 as high as 90 IPM, depending on the toolpath. Also, Ash is as hard as a brick and very tough to chisel through for the hole that would accept that handle. Spent quite a few hours on that.

Finished product, although I’m working on my own personal shop logo to engrave in the sides:

Tape holding method, and you can see how high the Makita is in the mount to make enough clearance to retract and move. Using an extended reach .25" mill for this. The bottom of the fixed portion of the carriage missed the block by less than 1/4".

Flipped and doing the reverse side. I ended up a little less than 1/16" from the halves being aligned properly, so it was a little 80 grit sandpaper to the rescue.

Oops, slight misalignment, but easily fixed in wood.

Rough shaping the handle. Tried to do two sided milling using the 1/4-20 bolts pictured as alignment pins and the tape holding method, but it went horribly wrong when I flipped it. Fortunately all the roughing was done from one side, and I was only using a ball mill to clean up edges. I just stopped the toolpath before too much damage was done and it only meant more edge sanding by hand to round everything over. Definitely an operator error problem somewhere in there.


You should be quite proud of such a magnificent Mjolnir . Now I need one if only to admire. Jude


Thanks Jude. It was a fun little project that I enjoyed because I used it as a skill builder, trying some things I haven’t done before.