Ever since watching Roy Underhill hacking up logs with a hatchet on The Woodwright’s Shop, I’ve wanted to try my hand at it. Last summer, after two ash trees on my property succumbed to the ash borer and had to be cut down, I had plenty of wood to work with. I made this carving mallet out of one section of a limb.
Carving mallets are cylindrical, and made for driving chisels and gouges through wood. The idea is to allow the carver to work without constantly looking at his or her mallet, since it doesn’t matter which direction it is facing. They are usually turned on a lathe, but I don’t own one, nor did I want to pay thirty bucks for a mallet I could hack out of a log in my back yard. What I came up with won’t win and beauty contests, but it’s strong, being made from a single piece of wood.
I love the idea of making something with a single tool. It’s one reason I’m also attracted to whittling. In this case, truth be told, I actually used two tools. After roughing out the mallet with the hatchet, I did shape it some with a draw knife. Still, making something with just two tools isn’t too shabby either.
You can find lots of good videos on YouTube if you’re interested in carving with a hatchet. Here’s a good one on carving spoons that I drew inspiration from. It’s amazing how much control you can develop and what you can make with not much more than a hatchet.