View Full Version : C Drew Corking Mallet Rings ????

Dave Fleming
03-10-2007, 07:30 PM
I have been pondering over this item for some time now.
I believe I have exhausted all avenues in researching this too.

I have a set or two of extra rings for my C Drew boat mallets. They were a bit rusty so I spiffed them up. In doing so I went over them with a 10X magnifiying glass looking for a seam or any indication of how they were made.

Damned if I could find any evidence of seam or weld.

The inside is dead smooth and straight, while the outside has the barest of taper from working end to inside end.

So I'm guessing that they were cast, machined and tempered.

Anybody got different info?

Bob Smalser
03-10-2007, 07:49 PM
I believe they were drawn tubing made from high-carbon tool steel. They were cut before tempering and installed on Black Mesquite or Live Oak heads, the Drew being one of the few mallets with tempered rings.

A handleless, 12" Drew small boat mallet just went for $227. the other day:



Dave Fleming
03-10-2007, 08:01 PM
Bob, that makes sense to me re: the rings.

I have as mentioned 2 of that size in Black Mesquite and one longer one with a much longer handle. It looks to be all factory made too.

Got one of those Oak heads minus the end rings....we used to call those 'lifeboat mallets'.

03-11-2007, 12:02 PM
This thread prompts a question-- I've seen numerous pictures of caulking mallets being used and am always puzzled: Why is the head so long? I've never used one, but they appear so ungainly and awkward. Can someone explain some history of them and why they're shaped like that?

03-11-2007, 01:46 PM
I was asked to duplicate some of these to repair a mallet that was missing most of the rings and I studied them carefully before attempting it.
My conclusion was that they were seamless tubing, machined and case hardened. At least that is how I reproduced them… case hardened with a soft core to avoid brittle parts that could lead to eye damage.

Dave Fleming
03-11-2007, 03:16 PM
Canoe, would a case hardened ring have that sweet tone ( :rolleyes: ), to it as does the originals?

As I believe I made mention, the rings are straight on the inside but slightly tapered on the outside, which means they are thicker at the striking end.

Dave Fleming
03-11-2007, 03:31 PM
GregH, US mallets have that shape whereas Brit mallets seem to be closer in shape to a large traditional carpenters mallet. Also, the Brit irons I have seen, albiet only in photos don't seem to be as elegant as the C Drew's.

The shape, In My Opinionated Opinion, of a US mallet is a big help in corking, helps with rebound, keeps your eye on the iron head which in turn keeps the blow just where it should be.

I had no trouble right from when I first picked up a Black Mesquite mallet under the tutelage of one of the last full time Corkers in San Francisco.
Yes the handle seems overly thick at the held end when first you pick it up vs. the handle on a nail hammer but, you soon get used to it.

To the best of my memory I have never seen a corking mallet handle shaved down. All have been left just as they came from the factory.

A Very Important Comment.....make damn sure you wear good hearing protectors when corking.

Old timers I knew all had serious hearing deficits from years of hearing that ringing sound from mallet on iron!

03-11-2007, 04:50 PM
Dave I didn’t appraise that aspect of it – case hardening will change the harmonics of a part as opposed to dead soft. I recall (maybe) that I did accidentally drop one on the slab and it rang, but I am deaf as a Haddock and couldn’t say that it was “sweet”!

Jay Greer
03-11-2007, 05:38 PM
My own Black Misquite Drew Mallet is a good talker. But the best mallet I ever used was made of Live Oak. Black Misquite can be found in the Southern States. As far as I know, the old Drew rings were made by piercing a small red hot billet and then forging them to shape on a mandril.

Bob Cleek
03-13-2007, 04:27 PM
Funny you should mention "lifeboat mallets." A few years back, I scored pretty much a full set of corking irons, hooks and so on on eBay (where else?). About thirty pieces in all. Most all were Drews, other than those apparently custom forged. I later picked up an oak mallet which had never been used. I showed it to Bill Garvey, an old master boatbuilder who had apprenticed at Mare Island before the war. He looked at it with some distain and told me it was a "lifeboat mallet." He explained it thus: They actually stuck these mallets into the old wooden navy lifeboats along with various survival gear. He said their real purpose was to keep the occupants' minds off of the inevitable if the boat began to leak! LOL It isn't anything near as nice as a mesquite Drew mallet, but it isn't like I'm earning a living with it every day either, so it does the job for me.

Jay Greer
03-18-2007, 11:45 AM
The only use those old Navy mallets were good for was using them as bung starters!

Bob Cleek
03-18-2007, 02:48 PM
Yea, maybe I'll turn a good one out of mesquite one of these days! Then I'll have to go back and search this thread to figure out how to forge the rings! LOL