Don’t worry, I haven’t hit myself in the nuts or cut off a finger… but to some of you I’m sure this might seem far worse!
For the past 4 or so years I’ve been using this hefty lump hammer as the sole ’mallet’ in my workshop. I always used a wooden mallet prior and my last one lasted long enough to become completely disfigured by missing chunks. One day I was pounding through a job trying to meet a tight deadline and ’crack’ I was left there with just the handle in my hand and a somewhat delayed thud as the head smashed in to something at the back of the workshop. I stopped and brewed a cup of tea whilst I scratched my head and spotted ’Lumpy’ as I know fondly call him sitting at the forge. Since I was in a rush it seemed like a good idea to grab him and get back to work but as I held the huge weight above my chisel it felt completely wrong – this wasn’t fine woodworking! I had to dare myself to make that first hit; it was as though I was building myself up to clout my own finger, but once the first hit was made the barrier was broken and a new bond was made between man and tool!
Since that day I’ve never gone back to a wooden mallet, perhaps I’ve just struck gold with some mysterious, ancient iron or something but ’Lumpy’ now never leaves my hand. He has a lovely broad and slightly domed face which seems to make him perfect for everything from knocking together stubborn joints, hammering in pegs, mortising, nailing, the list goes on… I can even do fine work with him and for some reason it never marks the wood.
Now I’m not trying to recommend that anyone copies my mace wielding and it certainly isn’t the best way to look after you’re lovely tools (though surprisingly I’ve broken several chisel handles with a wooden mallet and yet to break one with Lumpy). It could be a good pointer though for anyone who thinks there’s a ‘one size fits all’ solution to woodworking; in theory lump hammers have no place here yet in practise it works so well for me I may never go back!