One man’s journey to reproduce the iconic Studley mallet.
A reproduction of one of the most iconic mallets in woodworking.
Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve probably seen a picture of Henry Studley’s tool chest. All of the tools nestled together are awe-inspiring. Rewind back to 2015, and my father-in-law bought a pair of tickets for us to see the chest when it was on display in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was an amazing experience, and any hand tool user couldn’t help but drool over the tools nested within its mahogany case. In my opinion, the crown jewel of the toolbox is nestled on the top of the right-hand side—the Studley mallet.
The beautiful infill mallet is made of bronze or gunmetal and believed to either have been cast by Henry, or modified from another tool maker. No identification mark is visible. It’s such a nice-looking mallet, that I figured it would only be a matter of time before someone undertook the task of reproducing it. The man who took that quest is named William Marley.
Bill, being a retired pattern maker, undertook the challenge after talking to a friend. He was introduced to the Studley Tool Chest after a friend showed him Don Williams’ book, Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley. (The book is available from Lost Art Press). After examining the mallet, mainly from pictures available on the internet, Bill whipped up a pattern. Bill told me it was a tricky little mold to make, mainly because it’s curved on all four faces, not to mention the cove details and the core box (interior) of the head.
Even with all of these challenges, I believe Bill hit it out of the park. According to Bill, even Don Williams was impressed by how close he got. Bill has his mallets casting at a foundry right down the street from his home.
The heads are cast out of gunmetal, and weigh in between 16 and 17oz. each. There is a little bit of work to do with the head before you stuff it and add a handle. The outside faces and edges of the mallet areas are milled flat, however, the sand casting texture is present along the top and cove edges. So be prepared for a little cleanup when you get it. Obviously, you’ll also have to make the handle and the infill if you obtain one of these little gems. If you’re interested in purchasing a mallet casting from Bill, the ordering information is located below. — Logan Wittmer