Here is my favorite mallet. I made it 12 years ago when I first moved from NYC to the country. I vividly remember trekking through 2 foot deep snow into the back of our rented 50 acres, where I found a fallen soft maple tree. It just seemed impossible that wood just lay on the forest floor after only seeing it on racks at Rosenzweig Lumber in the Bronx for so many years. So I grabbed a chunk, not caring if it was the best mallet wood, and I headed home to turn a mallet.
In time, I came to favor this mallet, not for its hardness, but its lightness. I have other denser mallets, but I feel they lack sensitivity, plus, I'm willing to beat this little piece of wood up if necessary.
But the other day, this mallet saved the day. I was watching my goats run about in their paddock (we've arranged them so we can watch them from the couch) when I notice a black mass running about, seemingly outside of their fence line. I thought it was Silky, but how could she get through the electric fencing?! As I walked to the window, it was obvious, that wasn't Silky, but the biggest bear that I've seen since leaving the safety of Manhattan.
As I ran across the kitchen and through my shop, I did what any self respecting woodworker would do, I grabbed my favorite mallet.
By the time I got out there, the goats were huddled in the paddock opposite of where the bear was and when I got close enough, I chucked the mallet.
It whizzed just past the head of the bear and made a thud in the flowers behind it, just enough to let her know that this was no easy meal, and she took off.
The next day, I retrieved my mallet from the flower bed, what? you didn't think that I was going to look for it then did you? there's bears out there!
So now this little chunk of wood has rest even higher in my esteem,
I think I'll name it Thor.
In between fighting off the local wildlife, I have been finishing up a settee order and decided to try out a product that my pal Jack McCallister suggested. I don't know about you, but I hate steel wool. I've done my best to eliminate rubbing out the whole piece with steel wool alone by using gray scotchbrite pads. But they only take the sheen so far and tend to be a bit aggressive, at least until they've worn down a bit. Jack suggested this stuff called Mirka Mirlon that you can find online.
I got the grey ultra fine and am very pleased with what it can do. It took too long to rub with just the ultra fine Mirlon, so I still start with the scotchbrite, except for the seat which scratches easily. And it also doesn't come up to the sheen that I like, so I finished with a quick touch with 0000 steel wool.
So if I'm still using scotchbrite and steel wool, what's the point? Well, the Mirlon does some things that the others can't. When rubbing down parts with sharp edges, like the turnings, it doesn't burn through the paint much at all, plus, you can easily form it into a "flossing" type action to buff out the turnings.
I love the way that the turnings rubbed out and I barely used any steel wool at all.
The photo above is before oiling, and the one below is after.
Like I said, there is more coming, so stay tuned!