When Should You Use a Mallet?

When you use the wrong tool for a job, you make everything much more challenging. Sometimes, even the slightest differences in your tool can make a significant difference – which is why knowing when to use a mallet instead of a hammer can save you tons of time and effort. 

You should use a mallet in light applications or when you do not want to mar or scar the surface. Mallets are ideal for woodworking, upholstery, tiling, flooring, sports, jewelry-making, or other work that needs light impact. There are different types of mallets with different uses. 

At first glance, it would seem that a mallet is used in the same way as a hammer – to pound, hit, or strike things. However, there are specific nuances to when you should use one. So, let’s look into these nuances and discuss the cases in which you should reach for a mallet. 

What Are the Uses of a Mallet?

As we start to talk about the different types and uses of mallets, I should first establish what it is exactly. 

A mallet is a tool similar to and is often considered a hammer. However, unlike a hammer, it only has one head type and is usually made of wood or rubber. 

The structure and material of a mallet allow it to have different uses from that of a hammer. A mallet is necessary for work where less impact and force are required because materials are fragile or delicate. 

The uses of mallets include woodworking, upholstery, jewelry-making, tiling, sports, and music. There are various mallets for different applications, including the carver’s, rubber, rawhide, wooden, plastic, and special mallets. 


Mallets are essential equipment in woodworking and carpentry. Primarily, you will need a mallet to drive other tools into the wood without breaking the wood or material. 

For instance, you need a mallet to drive a chisel. Using a mallet while chiseling gives the user more control, allowing refined detail and a lesser chance of error. Mallets are also softer than hammers, which will protect the chisel’s blade from breaking or becoming dull too quickly. 

You can also use a mallet to knock wood together or into place. For example, a mallet would be great if you want to join wood with joints such as pegs or dovetails. Since the mallet is somewhat soft, it won’t break or split the wood too easily, helping you deliver force without damaging your project.  

Carver’s Mallet

A carver’s mallet is a particular type of mallet suited for wood carving. It looks different from a traditional mallet because it has a round surface and cylindrical head. 

The shape of the carver’s mallet allows it to be versatile so that the carver can strike from any angle. Wood carvers use these mallets to exert more or less control and force, depending on their needs. 

You can watch this video to understand better how a carver’s mallet is used:

Using a mallet properly for wood carving takes skill and experience because different amounts of force result in different results. For instance, softwood and intricate designs may require careful striking and less pressure when using a mallet since they are easier to split and break. 


Upholstery is the process of covering furniture with fabrics, foam, and other materials that make them soft, comfortable to use, and aesthetically pleasing. Most people use rubber, leather, fabric, and foam materials in upholstery.  

Mallets come in handy when preparing to attach upholstery to your furniture. Specifically, you need to use a mallet to strike tools, remove tacks and other old upholstery material, and add new tacks.  

You can also use mallets to break down old furniture, allowing you to re-build them or salvage the materials.  

Rawhide, Rubber, and Wooden Mallets for Upholstery

When upholstering, you can use rawhide, rubber, or wooden mallets. These three differ in the material used for the mallet’s head. Rawhide mallet heads consist of steel with a rawhide covering. Meanwhile, rubber and wooden mallets have heads made out of their namesakes.  


Jewelry work is an intricate and delicate process requiring much control and finesse. To achieve that, jewelry makers use mallets. These tools help shape and mold metal into beautiful forms without marring or disfiguring the material. 

Rawhide, Rubber, Wooden, and Plastic Mallets for Jewelry-Making

Similar to upholstery, you can use rawhide, rubber, or wooden mallets for making jewelry. However, there are also plastic mallets you can use for this process. Plastic mallets usually contain polyethylene, polystyrene, nylon, and other polymer materials that give you a soft surface.  


You need to set, level, and position each delicate tile correctly when tiling. Mallets help achieve that goal. You can use mallets to push tiles close together, push them down into adhesives, and split them, allowing you to set each tile precisely where it needs to go. 

They are great for this work because they are less likely to break the fragile tiles than hammers. 

Rubber Mallets for Tiling

Rubber mallets, with their soft heads, are the best for tiling. Mallets like this Goldblatt Rubber Mallet on Amazon are the best for tiling since they have a head soft enough for even the thinnest most delicate tiles. However, a mallet such as this one can help you make a clean split for a custom fit when you use a bit of force. 


Mallets are also necessary for some sports such as cricket and croquet. These mallets are usually wooden, allowing you to drive a ball at a high impact without denting or chipping it. 

Cricket Bat Mallets

Cricket bats, when newly acquired, cannot be used right away. They need to be “knocked in” or hit with a unique wooden mallet to be able to take in or hit a cricket ball without getting damaged. It is a step many cricket players take seriously. 

You can watch this YouTube video to see how a mallet is used to knock in a cricket bat:


Mallets strike many musical instruments to produce sounds or music. They are collectively known as mallet percussion instruments. 

Examples of mallet percussion instruments are: 

  • Xylophone
  • Marimba 
  • Timpani 
  • Vibraphone 
  • Glockenspiel 
  • Chimes 
  • Metallophones 

Mallets used for these instruments consist of various materials such as rubber, fiberglass, plastic, rosewood, ABS resin, yarn-wrapping, etc. 

Final Thoughts 

Mallets have a wide range of applications, from intricate woodwork to producing music. You must know what type of mallet to use for each situation and whether a mallet is necessary for it. You should also understand that mallets are different from hammers and that their uses are separate from each other.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

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