Fox Wedging a Tenon: A Mallet Repair Story - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-11-2013, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Somewhat embarrassingly, I believe that I was the first person to break their mallet from the first swap. I wasn't doing anything reckless, I was just tapping together some half-blind dovetails when I noticed the head begin to feel loose.



I finished what I was doing, then decided to investigate further. I wiggled the head some and then was able to pull it off.




Well crap. Unsure what to do, I use a chisel and start peeling away the glue in the mortise. I use my stationary belt sander with the belt adjusted to the edge to clean off and square up the tenon. I left it like this for a couple of weeks while I figured out a plan of attack.

A few weeks passed and I didn't come up with a plan. I asked a few of the great minds of WWT for their thoughts about how to best fix the joint. There were many suggestions, but the one that I went with was from firemedic: fox wedging. Fox wedging involves a stopped mortise and a tenon with wedges. The wedges are pushed into place by the bottom of the mortise. This joint seemed to offer the most mechanical strength while also not changing the outward appearance of the mallet. There are downsides, though. For one, I was trying to make one joint into another kind of joint. Additionally, there is no chance to test fit a joint like this. Well, below are some pictures of my process. I cut away some of the shoulder of the top of the handle with a tenon saw to make a new, square surface for the handle to meet the base of the head and also make the tenon a little longer. The mortise was already somewhat wider on some sides at the top than at the opening. I pared away some material to make this more even on the sides that the wedges would be pushing the tenon wider. I cut and shaped two wedges from hard maple and estimated length. They may look a little on the long side for this application, but the bottom of the mortise isn't completely flat and is still deeper than the tenon. Having never cut a joint like this before, it was time to just, well, see what happens.










Well, it is together. I used some slow-set epoxy on the joint and coaxed it into place with my latest big bashing tool. I clamped it and left it for a few days. It feels solid now, but that may just be the epoxy talking and not my joint. I love the mallet and am really looking forward to using it. I still need to apply some finish to the bottom of t he head where I sanded away excess glue residue from the original glue-up before I consider this thing "done," but it is nearly there.

Thanks again to Tommie Hockett for a great looking mallet. If I didn't like the thing so much, I wouldn't have spent so much time working on it. Thanks as well to everyone who helped with ideas for re-attaching the head and reinforcing the joint.

Last edited by Phaedrus; 02-11-2013 at 01:41 PM.
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-11-2013, 01:52 PM
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Sorry to hear about that. Looks like you got it taken care of. So basically you made the tenon fatter to fit in the mortice.
I hope it holds tight.

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post #3 of 15 Old 02-11-2013, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Sorry to hear about that. Looks like you got it taken care of. So basically you made the tenon fatter to fit in the mortice.
I hope it holds tight.
Thanks Dom, I hope so as well. This turned out to be a pretty interesting learning experience. I can definitely see other possibilities for fox wedging in the future.

All-in-all, I'm happy. I learned a new joint and once I have the finish complete, I'll have my purdy oak & osage mallet back in service later this week.
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-11-2013, 02:40 PM
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Well done, good choice for new joint.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-11-2013, 05:12 PM
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Well done.

A brave man attempting a fox wedge repair. This can work as you have seen, but it is a go-for-broke method.

I only read about fox wedges for the first time last summer.

Happy this worked for you. I know you love the mallet.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-12-2013, 03:57 PM
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dude I am so sorry I reckon I didn't make it strong enough that was my first mortise and tenon I am sorry

"Courage is not knowing about when to take a life, but knowing when to spare it."
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-12-2013, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommie Hockett View Post
dude I am so sorry I reckon I didn't make it strong enough that was my first mortise and tenon I am sorry
No worries at all. Most of us are new to mallets and many of us were adventurous to try something new. I am honored to have gotten this mallet. It is a real looker and I am grateful to have it in my arsenal of tools. I have a couple projects in the works, so it is sure to see some more action soon!

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post #8 of 15 Old 02-12-2013, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tommie Hockett View Post
dude I am so sorry I reckon I didn't make it strong enough that was my first mortise and tenon I am sorry
Well Tommie, look at it this way - it was a two for one. Your first mortise and tenon and Ben's first fox wedge.

Also the fact he wanted to do the repair shows how much he likes the mallet.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-12-2013, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommie Hockett
dude I am so sorry I reckon I didn't make it strong enough that was my first mortise and tenon I am sorry
That is one awesome mallet. I loved it from the time I first saw it. If I had got it, it would be going on display on my shop wall for sure. If postage wasn't such ma killer I'd put in an order

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post #10 of 15 Old 02-13-2013, 12:35 AM
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Nice go of it, Phaedrus. I'm glad that worked out!

----
I'll go over the epoxy aspect of this for those not privy to our conversation in case it helps out anyone else. I hope you don't mind.

Epoxy straight up stinks for high stress / vibration applications, it's so strong that it has a tendency to crack rather than give like the yellow glue in a similar application. It would be a bad choice On a traditional M&T joint. In this application, given the mortise is not 'perfect' it serves more as a space filler to keep things from rattling around or getting lose as wood fibers of the handle get bruised and abused and alleviates the issue of not having a good long grain to long grain fit.
---

Flat style mallets will fail with a typical M&T even if well fitted. They require a mechanical bond such as wedging or pinning to be successful.

The problem is grain orientation. With a M&T on a turned mallet the grain is all parallel meaning all around long grain in a 360. On flat mallets the only long grain surface is two cheeks!

Cheers!

ps- Nice Half Blinds!
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post #11 of 15 Old 02-13-2013, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommie Hockett View Post
dude I am so sorry I reckon I didn't make it strong enough that was my first mortise and tenon I am sorry
Don't feel bad Tommie! We all learned from this!

And I figure that was pretty dang good for a first go on a M&T!
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-13-2013, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firemedic View Post
...
Flat style mallets will fail with a typical M&T even if well fitted. They require a mechanical bond such as wedging or pinning to be successful.
...
this being the case, mine is likely to also come loose at some point in the future.

at least it is a like a through tenon type of thing, so the fix should be pretty straightforward when it happens.
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post #13 of 15 Old 03-21-2013, 08:07 AM Thread Starter
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UPDATE: I spent some quality time with my Tommie Hockett mallet and some chisels yesterday and it is still holding up great! The mallet feels good and effective motivates my chisels to remove and shape material. Thanks again Tommie!

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post #14 of 15 Old 03-21-2013, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
UPDATE: I spent some quality time with my Tommie Hockett mallet and some chisels yesterday and it is still holding up great! The mallet feels good and effective motivates my chisels to remove and shape material. Thanks again Tommie!
Always good to hear that a fix stays fixed.

For some reason I was actually thinking about your fox wedge repair this morning long before I saw this post.

Nice looking hole and bow tie by the way.
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post #15 of 15 Old 03-21-2013, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Always good to hear that a fix stays fixed.

For some reason I was actually thinking about your fox wedge repair this morning long before I saw this post.

Nice looking hole and bow tie by the way.
Thanks! I am glad it is holding together. It really is a joy to use. The striking surface is hard and solid with almost no marring at all.

The Dutchman is 3/4+" thick. It cut out pretty clean and fits tight. I will eventually post a thread with what that board is going to be part of.

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