There are quite a number of leatherwork tools most leatherworkers either underutilize or wrongly utilize for things they are not supposed to use them for. A classic example is the leather mallet: a tool with divers use but can be totally misapplied or left redundant with ill information.
So for this article, I spent a couple of hours researching and recounting from my personal experience the various uses of the leather mallet and I’m ready to share with you all I noted down.
So what is a leather mallets used for? Leather mallets can be used for;
- Tooling Impressions on Leather
- Preventing Mars on Surfaces
- Making Oblong and End Punches
- Fixing Eyelets, Rivets, Grommets & Snaps
- Stamping Designs on Leather
- For Punching Holes on Leather
- For Patting Down Seams
- Flattening Lacing done on Leather
The leather mallets is a fantastic tool for the above mentioned leatherwork activities. This is because most of the activities would require you to use a striking to for longer periods: minutes if not hours.
It’s fantastic to know the various ways you can use a simple mallet in leatherwork and for the rest of this post, I will delve into the details on the uses of the leather mallet.
1. Leather Mallets are Great For Tooling
Mallets are great tooling tools. In that, you will use your mallet to make multiply gentle taps on your stamps such as bevels to create a design. The gentle taps the mallet gives to the stamps enables you to control the depth, texture, and tones of the design you’re putting on the leather.
So when tooling, you can bevel nicely along your swivel lines, render textures for backgrounds on leather, shade, create a beautiful variations of relief designs on your leather, etc.
Using a mallet will let you avoid heavy hammer marks that you would have if you use a hammer for tooling. So mallets are indeed great tools for tooling leather.
Choosing the right weight and type of mallets is also key. Generally for tooling you will want to go for a mallet weight between 7 ounce and 11 ounce.
Everything about my tooling particularly changed when I found this cheap Rawhide Mallet on Amazon and as soon as I started using it, my tooling became much better. It’s the perfect weight for leather tooling and I shed off a lot of the fatigue I always had during and after tooling.
2. Great Tool that Prevents Mar on Surfaces
Imagine bringing a leatherwork project you’re working on to an almost end with only few last minute finishing touches such as flattening thongs or stitches or probably glued edges and you suddenly noticed the hammer you used has left a heavy print on your hitherto perfect leatherwork.
Leather mallets are specifically for hitting surfaces you do not want to mar up or scratch like rivets, grommets, a neatly dyed leather surface, a painted surface, or leatherwork tools that may be polished with protective substances, etc.
3. Leather Mallets Make Oblongs and End Punches Clean
You can use a mallet to make end punches on straps using your English point tools very easily, accurately, and clean. End punches are done using tools like the English point or any other tool that helps you shape or round off the edges of wallets, bags, flaps, straps, etc.
So still on the subject of English points, if you have a High-Quality English point like this cheap but quality one I found on Amazon, you can use a light mallet available like this Nylon-Head Mallet and you will still be able to land a good strike for a perfectly rounded or pointed edge even if the leather is somewhat thick.
For punching something like an oblong tool, the mallet to use must have a lot of brute force behind it. Thus, the mallet can still be useful although mauls tend to do a better job when it comes to oblong punches.
The oblong punches as the name implies are used to make oblong punches on belts or straps for fastening leather articles. With the help of a very solid mallet like a 24-48 ounce mallet, you will make oblong punches just like a leather maul would.
You can check out a guide I wrote earlier on the best mauls for leather work since mauls tend to do a better job with oblong punches. It’s a guide I wrote on everything about leather mauls including a few recommendations on some of the best ones out there.
4. Leather Mallets are Great For Fixing Eyelets, Rivets, Grommets & Snaps
In many cases, the eyelets, rivets, grommets, and snaps you will use will be made of metals of some sort and the last thing you would want is to strike it with something like a hammer that will destroy your shiny eyelet or remove the protective coating on the grommet or rivet.
What you would want is a tool that will serve a soft blow while retaining the grommets, eyelets, or rivets in perfect condition. The small size mid-weight rawhide mallets are great and will do a fantastic job at this.
With mallets, you will be able to punch clean holes for setting rivets, grommets, eyelets, and snaps, and also reinforce it safely to have them securely fixed.
5. Leather Mallets are Perfects for Stamping
Stamping is a leather decorative technique of making impressions on the grain side of leather using leather stamping tools. The designs from these decorative tools called stamps are transferred onto the grain surface of the leather by adequately hitting the stamping tools with a mallets.
The leather mallet is a perfect tool for stamping because most stamping tools are made of metals and using a striking tool like a hammer will cause the heads of the stamps to develop mushroom-like deformities which tend to eventually damage the stamping tools.
Whether wet or dry stamping, the leather mallet will be able to deliver just about the blow for a perfect print on the leather taking into consideration the force you use as against the weight of the mallet you use.
6. For Punching Holes on Leather
Punching holes on leather when making leatherwork projects is unavoidable especially when you start out in leatherwork. In the initial stages of your leatherwork, most of the leather articles you will make will be finished by hand stitching which involves punching holes prior to stitching.
To make holes for stitching, you will require leather punching tools like a leather mallet to strike the chisels or pricking irons while the chisel or a pricking iron pierces or punches through the leather.
The type of punch you would want to make, whether using a pricking iron or a chisel will determine the size, weight, and the type of mallet you would use. For example, with leather pricking irons, a plastic, rubber or poly head mallets will be great while for chisels, a nylon or rubber head leather mallet is best.
Leather Mallets are indeed great for punching holes on leather. Using a leather mallet will make punching or piercing leather very easy and clean while leaving your chisels and irons in very good condition without causing any damage to them.
7. Leather Mallets are Used For Patting Down Seems & Folds
The leather mallet comes in handy when it comes to patting down leather edges for sewing or gluing. In most of leatherwork projects you will undertake, you will skive the edges of your leather project for folding or gluing. And once the leather is folded or glued, the leather mallet can be used to flatten the fold or glued leather parts.
Same can be said for sewing in leatherwork as leather edges is skived, temporarily glued, and hit with a mallet to flatten it well enough to make sewing, using a machine or hand easy and fast.
8. Flatten Lacing / Thonging done on Leather
Lacing in leatherwork is using a cut strip of leather to stitch or thong leather either to join two pieces of leather together or simply decorate the leather. Lacing is also known as thonging in leather work.
Depending on the kind of lacing done like the triple loop thonging, the lacing tends to be bulky and so using a mallet to pat down as part of finishing technique enhances the look of the thonging or lacing done.
What is a leather hammer used for?
A leather hammer can be used to set rivets, tap a seam flat on a leather, hit tacking nails on shoes, hitting glued surfaces together, and many other things in between. There are different kinds of leather hammers such as the tacking hammer, the leather working hammer, the French hammer, saddlers hammer, etc.
Why use a mallet instead of a hammer?
You may use a mallet instead of a hammer depending on the activity at hand. With activities that require finesse rather than brute force, the qualities of a mallet such as lightweight, broad hitting surface, easy to control will make using a mallet the best alternative as opposed to using a hammer.
How do you break in a rawhide mallet?
The simplest way to break in a rawhide mallet is by using the boiled water technique. This technique involves putting the head of the rawhide mallet into boiled water for 30-40 minutes and hitting the mallet over a hard surface (preferably a metal plate or slab) while still wet and finally leaving it to air dry.
How do you flatten leather seams?
A leather seam can be flattened by skiving the leather a bit (if necessary), gluing the seam to be flatted with a non-permanent glue and finally using a leather mallet to gently tap the seams flats. Leather has to be flattened this way because it’s not like fabric that can be flattened by ironing.
How do you use a leather mallet?
To use a mallet, there are three basic things to consider and that is always place a piece of granite beneath the leather you’re working on, ensure the leather has the right amount of moisture content in it for the tools to work properly, and finally always use a good piece of leather.