When my sister and her husband were moving into their first house, I wanted to make sure they had a nice selection of reliable tools. I put together a nice sized portable tool kit using duplicate and extra tools I had lying around, but there were a few things I had to buy, with a rubber mallet being one of them.
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Rubber mallets are useful for things like furniture and equipment assembly, and other tasks where you might need to physically coax a part into position without damaging anything.
I have plenty of mallets in my toolbox, including a Craftsman rubber mallet I picked up for cheap a few years ago, but I didn’t have one to spare. So I went out looking for a good quality rubber mallet good enough that I would want it for myself.
I ended up buying an Estwing DH-12 mallet for my sister and brother-in-law. It has a head weight of 12 ounces and comes with a hickory handle. It only cost about $12 at Home Depot, and is made in the USA.
Rubber mallets are the kind of tools where it’s typically okay to cheap out, but I have been wondering about Estwing’s mallets for a while.
What I found is that the Estwing Deadhead mallet has an exceptionally comfortable handle, and a well-formed rubber head. Some mallets look and feel like they’ll fall apart after a few years – and they do – but the Estwing Deadhead gave me the impression that it’ll last a very long time.
To be honest, I was highly tempted to give away my Craftsman mallet and to keep the Estwing for myself, but that didn’t seem right. So after a few test swings to get a feel for the mallet, I packed it up with the rest of the tools I was gifting to my sis and BIL.
The Deadhead mallets are available with black and light grey bounce-resistant heads, with the grey head being a more non-marking material. You can buy them in 12-ounce and 18-ounce weights.
For $12 at Home Depot, the DH-12 mallet is a great buy. While it does seem to bounce less than cheaper mallets, a dead-blow hammer or mallet is the better choice for when you’re looking for minimal recoil.
Buy Now(via Home Depot)
Buy Now(via Amazon)
More Info(via Estwing)
As of May 2014, Home Depot has better pricing on these mallets, but Amazon has a greater selection.
That was very nice of you to buy your family members a American made Estwing hammer Stuart. For $12 and fact this isn’t a cheapo Harbor Freight dead blow, you really can’t beat that deal.
Nupla is another brand to look at for deadblow hammers. They used to be made in the USA. Amazon also had started carrying Thor hammers like this one:
Wow, that looks similar to my German made Wiha dead blow I bought several years ago. Honestly, I wish I knew about this product years ago, as I always want to buy American anytime I can.
Thanks for the information Fred sincerely. Not exactly the cheapest hammer, but in my case, I wish I knew about this.
Before you get your hopes up about buying American – I was talking about Nupla which think are still made in the USA. Nupla is now part of Q.E.P. – so I’m not sure. The Thor hammers are made in the UK. Here’s a link for Nupla at Amazon:
You mean the same company that produces grout sponges and other items you can buy at Home Depot owns this brand now? Well, I sure didn’t know that at all. Well not sure what this means, but seeing as seemingly a majority of the QEP products I’ve seen are imported, I don’t have the best feeling about this.
Apparently this acquisition happened in 2012 as well.
Thank you for the information though Fred.
I’m pretty sure only Nupla’s handles are made in USA these days. The heads (which I consider the hammer) are made in China in most cases.
I have a few Estwing hammers in different styles. A rip claw ultra hammer is on my wish list. I got a curved claw one off a ‘clearance’ rack, and the claws have too much curve for my tastes.
You’re right about dead-blow hammers being better suited to handle recoil. However, some have a “patterned” plastic striking face; they are covered in the same material as the handle, which could mar soft/smooth materials like wood. Others (ball peen types) come with metal striking ends, which could also mar wood, so care must be exercised when using them. A block of scrap wood helps diffuse the blow.
Rubber mallets are less of a gamble with most soft materials. The problem is size; I’m not sure you can easily find a rubber mallet with a head weight of less than 12 oz. I have two deadblow hammers with rubberized exteriors (head and handle), which offer the best of both styles. One weighs 8 oz., while the other is 28 oz.; these seem to cover most of my needs around the home and garage.
You can expect rebound even with a deadblow, albeit much less than a rubber mallet. The cardinal rule is to keep your face, head and glasses out of the line of fire when striking something smartly. As metal and wood chips, nails and other foreign objects can blow back, always wear your safety glasses or a face shield when hammering.
Thor make a 4oz rubber mallet, 1 1/2″ diameter 3″ long head, I have one and it can be quite handy for tapping snap together plastic stuff or bits of car trim.
I have two of these can’t remember the brands but one is bigger for automotive purposes and the other is small for in house projects or for work.
At work I mainly use it for repairing door frames where the door would rub/hit on a corner of the frame. I found the easiest way is to use a rubber mallet. Gives it enough whack to compress the shims with out damaging the frame itself.
One day the wood handle broke. I simply removed the nail that holds the mallet head to the wood with a hammer and a 3” wood nail using the nail as a way to push out the mallet nail. I then cut a piece of galvanized water pipe and drilled a hole at one end, shove it in the mallet head, pusshed a nail through and bam! New handle that won’t break. 🙂