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Metro Made | Copperhead Carving Mallet

Kishtwār I have been getting back into tooling mode lately, collecting and acquiring hand tools and finding ways to make them uniquely mine. In this Metro Made, I craft a carving chisel based on a classic brass headed carving mallet.

Lets being by looking at the inspiration…the wood handle. I went to my local Lee Valley tools to pick up a set of Milled-Tool files and I looked over at the discount table. Low and behold, there were boxes upon boxes of discontinued handles. For literally $.25, I could get a full finished, cherry wood handle with a nice 5/16 threaded row already installed into it. I had no idea what I was going to use them for, but I bought them all.

After doing some research into a nice design for my own metal head carving mallet, I came across an archived image from Veritas tools, Lee Valley’s house brand. The same handle appeared, I knew I was on to something.


Some more research later, I find what I feel would be a good design, I love how the neck of the brass flows into the handle with no transition or break line. I didn’t know if I could get that tight of a fit, but I would try my best. The image is also from Lee Valley’s archives. This is currently sold as the “Journeyman’s Carving Mallet”.


I didn’t have any 1.5″ brass stock, but I did have some 1.5″ Tellurium Copper. Tellurium Copper is awesome, unlike the 99.9% pure copper, the added alloy of Tellurium makes it machinable and very hard. This is a hunk of it for scale.


I cut off 2″ from this 12″ rod and chucked it up on the lathe.


I mixed up the order of operations, in hind sight I should of machined the ‘face’ of the mallet first entirely and then chuck it up again on the otherside. Instead, I faced on side and tapped 5/16 thread into it. The handle already had an attached 5/16 bolt which made this project so much easier to deal with.


I tapered the head at 30 degrees and took off the cooper until it almost met with the wood. From there, I used a half round file to manually blend the wood and copper till they made the a similar seamless transition. Before I finished the whole handle, I added some end cap detail by laminating some walnut and paduak spaced with maple veneers. Purely decorative, but sure makes it nice and custom.

The handle was then spun and using 80, 120, 240, 400, 600 and some steel tool, I prepped the surface to accept 4 coats of super glue. Having it already on the lathe made applying the super glue finish easy as I spun the handle very slowly. I hit the surface again with the steel wool to even out the glue.

I pulled a painters trick and used some bunched up news paper and turning the handle at it’s fastest speed to buff it to a very even shine. It feels like a pool cue.




The end result is a copperhead carving mallet with a weight of just over 1Lb or 465 grams. Plenty of heft, but thanks to the small handle, incredibly controllable.  IMG_8452



I love the end product so much that I want to make a smaller one, maybe 1/2 or 1/3 pound to compliment each other.

Thanks for reading!


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Metro Retro Made | The Stubby Shop Brush

I love old tools. In partuclar, old tools that have LOTS of life left in them. When trolling around my favourite flea market, I came across some pretty beat up gems that were begging to be made useful again. The best part about restoring tools is that not only are they a fun project, in the end, they are useful items.

The shop brush is one of those under appreciated shop tools, but who says you can’t have nice things. I found this busted old 2″ thick round brush in the pile of junk, surprisingly, the bristles were still in good shape. The handle has seen a lot of sun, chemical exposure and a lot of shop floor drops. I adopted it like a runaway puppy. I had also found a vintage Canadian made Stanley spoke shave, that’s for another build post.


The first thing to do was to remove the ferrule nails, this was pretty easy as they were only about .5″ long. The process was a little flowy so I didn’t take too many build pics. However, the process was pretty easy, take the handle and chuck it up in the lathe and spin it pretty fast. Using 80 grit paper to get rid of the paint, and then progressively finer and finer papers till it was time for some 000 steel wool.


Since the ferrule was off, I buffed it with some 240 grit paper and the surface rust disappeared. I reassembled it after revealing the handle’s natural wood surface. In this case, it is a nice maple. I like how the red chemicals that this brush was used to paint with actually etched the colour into the wood near the ferrule.


The handle’s butt end was actually badly dented and chipped so…..


It got loped of in favour of some super sweet hardwood cut offs. A stack of paduak and walnut spaced with maple veneers were glued onto the bottom.


When that was dry, the new 80 grit belt sander made quick work of the blocky shape, bringing back the dome shaped end cap.


Again, using progressively finer and finer grits of sand papers, the new end cap was blended into the existing handle. Once it was smoothed out, a short bath of boiled linseed oil brought out the grain.


After the BLO dried up, some more steel wool buffing till it was baby butt smooth.


After three coats of super glue, it was time to put this brush into service. The best part about this stubby brush is that it stands up on end.


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Expect more Metro Retro Mades soon, I love restoring old tools into something I can use.