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Thread: The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Port Townsend WA
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    Default The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

    My father in law has a friend who is getting rid of his collection of items from his boat which has now been sold. He did save his caulking mallet and irons which he has now given me to be the new custodian there of. This is one of the sets that was made by
    The GAITHILL FORGE and FOUNDRY CO. of Chattanooga Tenn. for the armed forces during WWII. They must have made thousands as I have seen them show up in many, unexpected, places. This one came in a wooden box with a sliding top that contained the irons which, are of a good variety. There is a standard no.1and2 thin plus a 1 and 2 crease, several bent irons and three or four dumbs which, are enough to get a feller by in an emergency if he is marooned on a South Pacific Island with leaky seams. The mallet is made of live oak with a maple handle and feels just a bit light compared to my Drew that is made of black locust. Lee was kind enough to have polished all of the irons which told me he is a tool guy. But the mallet was in need of a bit of a tune up as the rings were very loose. Mind you mallet rings, the good ones, are forge tempered and tapered on their inner sides. This allows them to be driven up the tapered body of the mallet for tightening. However this one had run out of driving room and the rings were very loose. So, I did the standard overhaul of making up some cotton duck squares with a hole in the middle that fit over the sections of the tool. This was followed by using a second hammer as a broad punch while it was hit with a #3ball peen driver. Walking them carefully into place was just a process of taking care not to drive too hard and skew the rings and chew up the wood. All went well and here is the result. Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 03-14-2017 at 02:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Default Re: The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

    One other picture.
    Jay

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Portland, Maine
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    14,211

    Default Re: The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

    Thanks, Jay. That's a good trick to know.


    Steven

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    PNW, an island west of Seattle
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    Default Re: The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

    Why does a caulking mallet have such an elongated head?

    Jeff

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Default Re: The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

    It is for balance, shock distribution and the resonance that makes it ring when the cotton is tucked and driven home corectly.
    Jay

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Shubenacadie NS
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    3,550

    Default Re: The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

    What is it about the shape/length that makes it ring? Are the metal forged rings integral to the sound making qualities of it? I saw one recently at a show and left it on the table. I'm not ready to use one yet but I am intrigued by them.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Default Re: The care and feeding of a caulking mallet and irons

    A caulking mallet, of Western design, has a sawn slot between the rings that can just be seen in the photos. Often a caulker will adjust the length of the slots to give the shock and ring vibration that he prefers. It is, basically, a dead blow drive that telegraphs into the caulking iron without rebound. The small rings keep the body from flaring and splitting at the ends and the big ones do the same so as not to have the handle loosen. The actual sound is, mostly, produced by choosing the right wood to use. Not all live oak and Black misquite have it so a maker has to hit the butt ends of the raw stock to see if the wood will fill the bill brefore putting it on the lathe. I have always wanted to make a mallet out of the wood used to make marimba keys, Honduran rosewood.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 03-15-2017 at 12:29 PM.

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