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Metro Made | The Death Rattle Mallet

up-and-down In this Metro Made, we set out eyes on yet another tool, the humble leather working mallet. I punch hundred’s of holes each week to slide metal clips into place or buttons snaps. For a long while, I used a simple 10″ long traditional mallet made from nylon.

I wanted something more compact and…of course, custom made for my workflow. I really enjoy using my Copperhead mallet, so much that I wanted a bigger, soft head version for strike leather punches. I call it the Death Rattle…you’ll know why soon enough.

buy prednisone dogs Let’s go!

First, let’s cut the stock for hammer striking head. Some 2.5″ diameter Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene will do the trick, no silly nylon or HDPE, this stuff is the bees knees in terms of weight and durability. A healthy 3.5″ was cut off from the log.


This stuff was tough, even with my most aggressive wood saw, it took quite a lot of work to make it cut.


Now time for the real work…the piece was chucked up on the lathe. It JUST fit on the mini lathe. This is the most dangerous step, with the uneven surface of the saw cut face, it could catch the tool and bounce right out of the jaws. I wanted to face the end so as to flip is over to get a better grip on the material.


After many, many light passes, the first surface is faced and flush.


Flipping it over, the other side was much safer to face. If my lathe was bigger, this wouldn’t of been such a hassel.


I managed to buy a bunch of tool handles from Lee Valley tools for a scant price of $.50 each. They came all ready to go with a 5/16 fine thread rod. This is the same handle I used for the Copperhead Mallet, so it may look familiar to you frequent readers. Here I eyeball up how far I need to make the threads.


UHMWPE may be tough, but it yields to drill bits quite nicely. A fat centerdrill is used to get the hole started.


Then a 5/16″ was drilled 1″ in. This allowed for the tapered tap to get far enough in to make a nice clean set of threads.


Test fit and we a basic hammer. I could leave it like that, but where’s the fun in that!?


Fully seated.


I then turn a tenon on the so the handle has something visual to sit on. I also face the outside edge, this isn’t needed but it’s nice to have a fresh face to start off with. I don’t show it, but the work was supported by a live center point on the tail stock.


Then flip is over to finish the facing of the outside surface.


One fresh surface.


This was the hardest part of the operation, and this is also why I called this the Death Rattle. The plan is to hollow out the mallet, fill it with steel shot and plug it. I use a 1.25″ Forstner bit to hog out the inner material about 2″ deep.


Another test fit. I’ll chamfer the end towards the handle for comfort later.


Time to make the plug. I made a small mistake and used the 1.25″ Forstner bit instead of the 1″, but I found a fix that worked out well. That is a ring of 1″ ID, 1.25″ OD schedule 40 PVC pipe. It’s a near perfect fit and will need to be pressed into place.


Once I had the spacer, I cut off and machined a bit of 1″ nylon rod to use a s plug.


The fit was a tiny bit loose, so I wound two wraps of electrical tape onto the nylon lug and hammered/pressed it into place.


To avoid separation, a 1/32 hole was drilled and counter sunk with a 1/16 bit a small nail was driven into place.


Chucked the plug with pvc sleeve into the lath again and faced it so it was one unit, then pressed it into the hammer head. The same hole set and nail was driven in to pin it place. The fit was pretty tight to begin with, but this is just for added security.


I had forgot to mention, the tapped hole was drilled clean through into the now void chamber so that I can pack in the steel shot though it. That way, there was no need to fiddle with the plug and getting the exact amount of shot in it. I can tune it later if needed by removing or adding more steel shot or sand.


Now to fill it with .177 BBs. A bottle of these are so cheap, they make great ammo AND weights. Slowly but surely, the chamber fills up and there is a tiny rattle sound from the micro voids. Now you get it…it’s called the Death Rattle for a reason.


Once it was filled up, handle replaced onto it, the feeling wasn’t right. Then I remembered I was going to chamfer the bottom edge. So back on the lathe it went to receive a 30 degree bevel. Now I can choke up on the it if needed. The final weight is just over 10 ounces which makes it a weight to swing and hit a punch without much effort.



I may revisit the handle and give it a nice end cap detail. I also may add a eye bolt on the end of the handle to hang this up on a peg, but for now, she’s serviceable and ready to smack some tools!






Thanks for reading once again and don’t forget…Christmas isn’t that far away.

-Stay True-


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Metro Made | The Delta Marker

In my day to day, I carry a pen and a Sharpie marker. I don’t remember when I started doing this but as soon as I wake up in the morning and get my day started at the shop, I always put those two things my my left pocket. I feel weird not having them and they really make up the core of my EDC items.

My most recent acquisition is the beautifully made titanium version of Jason Hui’s Alpha pen, which was a successfully funded Kickstarter project. Jason’s an insanely crafty guy, designing and manufacturing flashlights under his moniker, Darksucks. His low volume, high quality produces ooze style and class for the discerning gear guy/girl. His Alpha pen uses the finest of refills, the Mont Blanc felt tipped fine liner. At $4-5 each, the pen matches the pricey and beautifully writing capabilities of the refill.

Having a medium size collection of higher end custom pens, one of my greatest wishes was for someone to make a beautiful Sharpie marker holder. I’ve been waiting for someone on Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platform to make one, but no one seems to want to take up the challenge. Sharpie does make a stainless steel marker but the design leaves so much to desire and the refilled are fairly expensive given the relative short lifespan of a marker.

I finally broke down and spent some time in front of my lathe and made one. This is turned entirely from 5/8″, 6160 aluminum bar stock and using very commonly sized imperial HSS drill bits. The clip is from a Sanrenmu knife that seats itself into a flat spot milled into the face of the cap.

MGG Delta Marker Plans

Delta Marker internals

Basically, it’s a sleeve that accepts the grip, tip and ink well sponge of a regular sized Sharpie fine tipped marker. Extracting this is pretty easy, just bend the plastic body of the maker till the body separates from the grip. Then slide it into the Delta body and press down with the plastic cap. This seats the “refill” fully into the new home.

I call it the Delta Marker.

Delta Marker carbon 2

Delta Marker carbon 1


Why Delta?

Well, it’s no match for┬áThe Alpha pen, and it’s not refined enough to be a Beta so, it’s the Delta marker. It is also based off of Jason’s design, using his cap posting design ad well as the capping design, so it’s only natural to follow his naming convention. The only thing missing is the shallow scallops on the body, to do this I would need a round insert holder, which I broke some time ago.

I also wanted it to seal, so I added a groove at the base of each 1/2 fine thread for an o-ring. This did two things, it won’t allow the nib from drying out, but it also engages the cap when torqued on a bit so it won’t accidentally come apart in my pants or shirt pocket. I actually came about this epiphany when the Alpha pen came apart in my pocket a few times, so I put a few, really small o-rings meant for a AAA flashlight seated at the base of each thread. Lucky for me, Jason designed a relief for the threads, which meant there was a groove for the o-rings to seat. Mine are much less precise, but they don’t need to be since the o-rings I used are much thicker to generate a better seal.

Just a quick note, these are not for sale, it was a personal challenge and this blog is a place for me to present final, in progress, experimental as well as failed projects. It’s not often something comes together so nicely on the first try, but thanks to Jason’s design, a lot of the guess work is done for me.

Here are some table top shots, under the Delta Marker is the Alpha pen.

Delta Marker alpha pen1

Delta Marker alpah pen 2

Delta Marker cap

Thanks for making it all the way to end of another long winded, designer rage fuelled build. I am really happy with the Delta Marker and it will serve me well until I can get this design in CAD and possible CNC this.