Conditioning a Rawhide Mallet
by Judy Larson
Rawhide mallets are one of the most used tools on a jewelers' workbench. A well-conditioned and used rawhide mallet looks like it belongs in the garbage heap but is coveted because by the time it looks like that, the hammer is at its best.
Instructions
There are two kinds of rawhide mallets-weighted and unweighted. Both are availablein different face diameters. Weighted mallets have different weights of lead rolled inside the leather, depending on the size and weight of hammer desired. Some mallets even come with replaceable head inserts. Your first rawhide mallet should be a weighted one in the mid-weight and face size. From there, you will be able to determine if a different size would better suit your needs.
Lesson learned: I purchased an inexpensive unweighted rawhide mallet and finally got around to conditioning it while writing this. When hammering at the curb, the handle broke and the head went flying - good thing there were no people around to get hit. Gluing the handle back together would never work as hammering causes a great deal of stress on the handle - so the handle is in the garbage and now another use for the mallet head will be found. A good handle is a must. Hickory is great for mallet handles, and the handle on this mallet was definitely not hickory.
Rawhide mallets are coated with lacquer or varnish which needs to be removed before using them on jewelry.That hard coating could mar metal.Some mallets are rolled tightly with resin between the layers which could also mar metal.

Use a rasp to remove the lacquer from the face and the edges around the face of the hammer. The ends will probably not be flat and will require extra work to get down to a more level surface.
Judy Larson's Conditioning a Rawhide Mallet - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, conditioning a rawhide mallet
Judy Larson's Conditioning a Rawhide Mallet - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, conditioning a rawhide mallet
Judy Larson's Conditioning a Rawhide Mallet - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, conditioning a rawhide mallet
Then head out to the curb with your mallet and a broom. Sweep the curb clean of debris - you don't want any little bits of cement stuck in the rawhide if it can be helped. Then start hammering away on the hammer face and face edges on the corner of the curb to soften the rolled leather and any substance holding the layers of leather together.
Judy Larson's Conditioning a Rawhide Mallet - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, conditioning a rawhide mallet

Materials

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Tools

Large Rawhide Hammer 1 1/2 inch - Pack of 1
G3-50
  • G3-50
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $28.95
  • Gold Club Price: $21.71
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Medium Rawhide Hammer 1 1/4 inch - Pack of 1
G3-7
  • G3-7
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $24.95
  • Gold Club Price: $18.71
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Weighted Rawhide Mallet
HAM-408.00
  • HAM-408.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $48.97
  • Gold Club Price: $36.73
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GROBET FILE - BARRETTE CUT 4, 6"
FIL-31.031
  • FIL-31.031
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $35.10
  • Gold Club Price: $26.33
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  • Category: Tools
  • Technique(s): Tools