Finding the perfect mallet will to an extent determine how long your leatherwork tools will last. Hitting your tools with the wrong mallet can greatly impact the lifespan of your tools, the quality of work you will produce, and how fatigued you’ll be. With that said, what are the best mallets for leatherwork? After experimenting, talking to other leather crafters, and researching, here are the best of the best money can buy.
The best mallets for leatherwork in no particular order are;
- Size-4 Garland Rawhide Mallet – (Best Rawhide For Tooling Leather)
- TEKTON Rubber Mallet 8-Ounce (Budget Pick Mallet For Stamping)
- TEKTON 30508 Rubber Mallet (Upgrade Pick! For Stamping)
- Barry King Poly Head Mallet (Best Professional All-Purpose Mallet)
- C.S. Osborne Poly Mallet (Best Budget Pick Poly Mallet)
- AIBER Nylon Mallet (Best Mallet For Punching Holes on Leather)
In addition to my top picks, I have added details for each of the selected mallets to help you make an informed decision. But before we head over to the amazing details, first, what do we know about leather mallets, the different kinds, and their specific uses?
What’s a Leather Mallet?
A leather mallet is a striking tool you will use for all your stamping, tooling, patting leather edges, fixing findings on leather rather than using a hammer. Leather mallets come in two parts, a handle and a head.
What sets mallets apart are the various materials used for the head and handle.The common materials used for mallets heads includes wood, plastics, nylon, rawhide.
What are the types of mallet?
There are a couple of different types of leather you’re sure to come by and these include plastic mallets, wooden mallets, rawhide mallets, nylon mallets, power mallets, etc. Hierarchically, the wooden mallets are the least expensive and least durable.
The wooden mallets is the mallet you buy if you don’t often make leatherwork projects or if you want a cheap tool to travel with on vacations for leatherwork, or have a bunch of kids/students practicing a few leatherwork techniques and projects few times a month.
While the wooden mallet begin to wear out with bits and pieces of wood chippings interfering by getting into the crevices of your stamped leather, the plastic and raw hide mallets hold up very well and serves its purpose for so many years with little to no wear in between.
What is a leather mallet used for?
Basically in leatherwork, you will use a leather mallet in three broad categories that is stamping and tooling, setting findings such as rivets, eyelets, and grommets, and lastly, setting oblongs and end punches.
Mallets comes in different weights and figuring what weight to use and when is key. The weights range from as little as 2-5ounce all the way up to 50-60ounce mallets and sometimes more. The type and weight of mallet you use for a particular task will depend on the force needed. For example, setting oblong punches require a lot of brute force so you might need a heavyweight mallet for that.
Best Leather Mallet For Tooling Leather
Tooling is a leatherwork decorative technique of using different tools such as bevels, pear shaders, camouflage tools, viener stamps, etc to make beautiful impressions on leather.
One thing I love about the tooling decorative technique is that it doesn’t require you to add extra materials to make the leather look great but instead what you’re doing is to simply depressing portions of the leather while keeping other parts raised using stamps.
These stamps are made to be struck in order to impress a design onto the leather and here’s where picking the very best mallet is important assuming you already have the perfect tooling tool for the job.
Generally, the best kind of mallets that are super great when it comes to tooling leather is the Rawhide Mallet. The rawhide mallet as the name implies is has the head made from animal hide. Tooling is awesome with a lightweight rawhide mallet because when tooling, what you need is a bit of finesse and not brute force.
Using rawhide a mallet is perfect for tooling also because it tends to be much lighter on the hand than most mallets. Why this is important is that tooling requires simple controlled pats on the tool and may take quite a long time to complete a tooling work. Choosing to use a maul or any other form of striking tool will tire your arm or cause serious fatigue.
So if you don’t want to stop the tooling for a work you’re doing because you’re tired instead of stopping because you’re finished, then your best bet for the best mallets for tooling is a Rawhide Mallet. With Rawhide mallets, you can tool (for example beveling) for hours without getting tired!
Now here’s my recommendation for the best rawhide mallets you can use for your leatherwork tooling. This raw mallets brands chosen are tested, super tough, very resilient, and makes tooling perfect without wearing the user out.
6. Size-4 Garland Rawhide Mallet – (Best Rawhide For Tooling Leather)
Having used and gifted a couple of rawhide mallets over the years, I will say it can be challenging picking one out. This one from Garland is the brand you go for and you won’t be disappointed with your choice as they have the best quality in the rawhide mallet space and is a popular US brand.
Garland’s mallet is made from an all-rawhide buffalo rawhide. With the tensile strength of the buffalo hides, this mallet will last long with minimal wear. While it’s a great tool for tooling, it also has a wide range of applications.
Our choice for the size 4 is to offer you a bit of brute force when tooling thicker leather while still maintaining it’s lightweight. And also to make it practical for a variety of other purposes.
If you’re interested in the Size-4 Garland Rawhide Mallet, you can check it out over here on Amazon for its latest price since they are always changing.
How to Condition Rawhide Mallet
One thing that puts people off about the rawhide mallet is how rigid the head is when new and the feeling it’s going to take forever to “beat it up” to become soft for easy use. But what’s key is knowing how to condition the rawhide leather the right way and making it ready for use.
The process is actually a really simple one and it works on all new rawhide mallets. Here’s how you condition a rawhide:
- Heat water till it comes to a boiling point.
- Remove the boiling water from the heat source.
- Place your brand new rawhide mallet head into the boiled water.
- Allow the rawhide mallet head to set for 30-45minutes.
- Now remove it from the boiled water and smack it while it’s wet over a hard surface
- Finally, air-dry the rawhide mallet head for 24-48 hours and this will soften it well enough for use.
This makes it the perfect choice both in quality and how practical it is when it comes to the best mallets for leather tooling.
Best Leather Mallet For Stamping Leather
Stamping in Leatherwork is very similar to tooling. In fact tooling involves some levels of stamping. But stamping as a stand-alone decorative technique involves transferring a pattern or design from a stamping tool onto the surface (grain side) of leather with the help of a mallet.
Stamping can also be used to make repeated design patterns on leather. You can check out a quick guide I wrote earlier in which I researched the 10 best leather stamping tools and some helpful tips.
The type of mallet needed for stamping must have adequate weight to impress the design nicely without wearing out the user. While many may prefer using mauls for stamping, I find the poly and plastic or rubber mallets to be a better way to go since it’s much lighter but gives you just about perfect weight on the stamping tools.
Poly mallets are inexpensive, extremely durable, and can last you a lifetime. With as little as a 5-9-ounce poly or rubber mallet, you can do all your stamping, set rivets, and tooling.
What’s particularly nice about plastic and poly or rubber mallets is the bounce you get when you hit the stamping tool with it. This enables you to make quick successive hits resulting in a very neatly imprinted design or pattern. In this light, my tried and tested recommendation for the best mallet for stamping are the TEKTON Wood Handle Rubber Mallet 8-Ounce (Budget Pick), the Barry King Professional Mallet, and the C.S. Osborne Poly Mallet.
5. TEKTON Rubber Mallet 8-Ounce (Best Budget Pick Mallet For Stamping)
Rubber mallets are very durable and makes stamping in leatherwork easy and a lot less tedious. The TEKTON Rubber Mallet will exceed your expectations of how sturdy yet lightweight it is and a really great value for money tool.
The TEKTON Rubber Mallet Head delivers the most softened solid strikes on stamping tools without causing any form of damage to it. It has a hardwood handle that minimizes post-strike vibrations and makes it really gently on the hand.
With its classic nicely contoured hardwood handle, you’re assured of a very comfortable grip to be able to work hours without being fatigued.
The best thing about the TEKTON Rubber Mallet aside being the perfect striking tool for stamping leather, it’s super cheap and you can simply use for all manner of purposes around the home, gardens or professional fields like construction, metal working, woodworking, etc.
If you’re interested in the TEKTON Rubber Mallet you can check out its current price here on Amazon! as there’s a huge discount on this cheap tool.
4. TEKTON 30508 Rubber Mallet (Upgrade Pick! For Stamping and Tooling)
Unlike the single 8ounce leather TEKTON rubber mallet, the TEKTON 30508 Rubber Mallet set gives you a variety of weights and sizes of the high quality TEKTON mallets. And it’s our upgrade pick due to it’s high quality at a really ridiculous price.
The TEKTON 30508 Rubber Mallet the set comes 3 in a set consisting of an 8-ounce, 16-ounce, and a 32-ounce rubber mallet.
You will find the 16 and 32-ounce mallets are useful when fixing rivets, grommets, big oblongs, cutting round ends, English points, and a whole lot of heavy-duty tasks. You will also find the 8-ounce mallets useful for all of your everyday tooling and stamping needs.
If you’re interested in the TEKTON 30508 Rubber Mallet set, you can check it out over here on Amazon for its current price.
1. Barry King Poly Head Mallet (Best Professional All-Purpose Mallet)
The House of Barry King is an absolute house of quality leatherwork tools and this poly head mallet is one of their all-time top of the line and a famous tool. The Barry King poly head mallets is a beautifully crafted tool and It’s indeed a work of art on it’s own.
This mallet comes with a high quality poly head and a very smooth curved vegetable tanned leather handle that gives you the ultimate comfort and a firm grip a quality poly maul head with a smooth wooden handle.
The Barry King Poly Head Mallet is a professional leather mallet that can be used for all stamping, tooling, carving, etc.
This mallet is available in four weights of 16, 24, 32, and 48 ounce and three styles which are hammer head, round head, and the tapered head all designed to suit your style or preference of leatherwork carving/tooling mallet. For this, the Barry King mallet doesn’t come in any weight lower than 16 ounce.
If you’re interested in the Barry King Poly Head Mallet, you can check it out over here on Amazon for its current price. It comes highly recommended on my list due to the level of confidence I have in the Barry King brand and my own personal experience.
2. C.S. Osborne Mallet (Best Beginner Poly Head Mallet)
The C.S Osborne is a US brand and has been around for sometime now furnishing the leather community with quality leatherwork tools and materials.
The C.S. Osborne Poly Mallet is US-made and is the perfect mallet for a beginner. The mallet head is made of a polymer material very strong, highly resistant to wear, and long-lasting with a hardwood handle.
The diameter of the face of the head is around 3-1/2″ inches, a head length of 1-3/4 inches, a handle length of 10 inches with a weight of 8 oz.
The C.S. Osborne Poly Mallet is not only best for stamping but can also be used for hammering leather seams, tooling leather, and many other activities.
The polymer-made head is particularly great as it helps to absorb shocks from when it’s struck and minimizes the awkward bounce that most mallets have.
If you’re interested in the C.S. Osborne Mallet, you can check it out over here on Amazon for shipping and pricing details.
Best Mallet For Punching Holes on Leather
Punching slit, round holes, and diamond holes or rounding off the edges of leather article with an English point tool of leather is a very common activity in leatherwork. These punches can be made on belts, bags, wallets, etc to help stitch, lace, or simply decorate the leather.
Using the appropriate tool to make these punches is essential to how long your leather punching tools lasts, how much energy you will have to exert, and how long you may have to work on a project per each sitting.
Away from the traditional mallets, that is the rawhide mallets, wooden mallets, and the poly mallets is the new trend of mallets. That is the nylon mallets. The nylon mallets tend to have a lot more brute force and durability that makes all punching activities, stamping and tooling very easy.
The downside to the nylon mallets is it’s weight. These mallets turn to be very weighty and will wear you out possibly before your project is completed.
However, its a really great tool that has become the mallet of choice for most leather workers regardless of its weight. My recommendation for the best nylon mallet for punching leather is the AIBER Nylon Mallet.
3. AIBER Nylon Mallet (Best Mallet For Punching Holes on Leather)
The AIBER mallet features a heavy nylon head fastened on a handmade leather wrapped brown wooden anti-slip handle with a very sturdy, durable stainless steel construction, and an alloy material on its edges. The total length of this mallet is 7.4inches.
My Conclusion And How to Pick!
All in all, one key take away from this article is that while all of the mallets highlighted may do almost the same job, each will definitely be more refined to the job it will do slightly better than the other.
If you’re just starting out in leatherwork and you feel you only need to pick only one best mallet to start with, go for the recommended Garland Rawhide Mallet, C.S. Osborne Mallet or the TEKTON Rubber Mallet and it will fulfill your stamping needs, tooling, riveting needs, Etc just fine.
However, if you’re at a stage and you’re ready to invest a bit more into your leatherwork tools for your shop and want almost all the variety of custom made mallets tailored for specific jobs at a low price, then the TEKTON 30508 Rubber Mallet Set recommended above will be a great fit.
Finally, if you’re a professional and have tried and tested most of the beginner and intermediate level mallets and want something really solid with a bit of weight on it, multi-purpose, and of world-class quality, then the Barry King Mallet or the AIBER Nylon Mallet are your best bet.