Hammer Vs Mallet: Which Tool Is Better In Woodworking?

Because of the similar appearance to a hammer, a mallet is sometimes mistaken to have the same characteristics and functions. Some people have both in their house for home and garden work, but they seem not to care much about their difference and often use one to do the job of the other. 

This article will help you understand each tool and decide which one to buy after learning the detailed differences between hammer vs mallet

Overview Of Hammer & Mallet

Not only used in home and garden work, but a hammer and a mallet are also used in machinery, construction, and woodworking, but what is a hammer, and what is a mallet?


A hammer is a utensil used to apply force to objects or surfaces. It has a handle and a weighted head often made of hard steel to ensure a mighty blow. People using this tool may need muscular strength, as it is pretty heavy.


Like a hammer, a mallet has a handle and a weighted head, but they are both made of lighter material such as softer wood or rubber (head). As a result, a mallet is not heavy and doesn’t require arm or wrist strength to carry.

Hammer Vs Mallet: Detailed Comparison


The most significant common feature between these tools is their design. As mentioned, they both have two main parts: a handle and a weighted head. In addition, there is a hole in the middle of the head to attach the handle, called the eye. Therefore, their handles are often changeable, but some models are designed as a seamless block, which means we can do nothing with the handle.

Another similarity is their function, applying force, but a hammer is used in more intensive work with a heavier head.


Head shape

The head of a mallet is mainly like a cylinder, while the design of the hammerhead is quite complicated. 

One of the sides of the hammerhead is flattened; the other side is often formed like a couple of claws (often called a peen) to detach nails. Next, the shape of the hammer eye is varied depending on the kind of hammer. The metal parts on both sides of the eye are called hammer cheeks, and the narrow part between the cheeks and the flattened head is called the hammer neck or throat.



The material of these tools is also different because of their purposes. For example, a hammer is created for heavy duties in machinery and woodworking, such as attaching nails and other metal objects, so the head part is made of high-quality steel. Its handle can be made of wood or metal, depending on the intensity of the work. 

On the other hand, a mallet has a wooden or rubber head aimed at lighter jobs and primarily uses woodworking. The kinds of wood to make mallets depend on regions around the world, and the only standard to choose the material is it should be at an average sturdy level, not too hard and not too soft.


As mentioned, a mallet is mainly used in woodworking because of its light material. Its functions may include applying force to wood boards to make them stick together or assisting other tools such as chisels. 

On the other hand, a hammer with steelhead is used for more vigorous blows in both machinery duties and housework, such as fastening nails or deforming metal objects. We can also use it to break other items such as a brick or a glass piece, which is hardly done by a mallet.


Because of the variety of machinery work, there are numerous kinds of hammers. They have the same overall design and material but different head parts depending on the duties (you may see hammers with different head designs and functions here).

Woodworking is not that complicated; there are three main kinds often used in daily work.

  • Wood Joiner’s Mallet: This tool is usually made of 100% wood and can be homemade. Woodworkers often use it along with a chisel for some duties on log such as making crevices or carving. They put the chisel’s blade on the log, use the mallet to knock on its head, and the chisel will cut inside the wood object.


  • Dead Blow Mallet: Some people also called it a dead blow hammer. A dead blow mallet is created to apply a dead blow. What is a dead blow? It’s a strike on a surface without bouncing back. 

For this reason, a dead blow mallet’s head cannot be made of rubber. It’s not made of only one material such as wood or steel, too, as a strike on a hard surface will cause a bounce back. So instead, a dead blow mallet’s head has a plastic or metal cover, and the inside part is filled up with sand or lots of steel grains. When we swing the mallet, the inside substance is huddled up and down to the contacting face, strengthening the blow and preventing bounce back. 

A dead blow mallet is mainly used to move a stuck object or stick two fragments. 

Here is a video provided by Wranglerstar showing a dead blow mallet’s component and its difference from a regular hammer:

What’s Inside A Dead-Blow Hammer???

  • Nylon Mallet: This mallet is much different from the above. It looks like a mini hammer with a rubber grip, a steel handle, and a steelhead with both faces screwed with nylon pads. A nylon mallet is often used to apply force on small objects or bend the blade of handheld devices.


Click here to see the full description of all mallet kinds.

Hammer Vs Mallet: Which Should You Choose?

Many people may choose a hammer over a mallet as a hammer is sturdier and used in more tasks than a mallet. For example, we can use a hammer to fasten and detach a nail, break a brick, or bend a piece of metal wire. Even in woodworking, we can use a hammer to assist a chisel or a wedge. 

On the other hand, a frequent mallet can hardly accomplish the above jobs with a soft head, while a dead blow mallet is not designed for those. A professional woodworker needs a mallet, but he always has a hammer in his toolkit.


Which material is the best for a hammer handle?

There are three primary materials for a hammer handle: wood, steel, and fiberglass. However, it is pretty hard to pinpoint the best as any material has its benefits and drawbacks. Therefore, it is recommended to consider your work and even your physical ability before choosing a hammer. 

a. Wood handle

Compared to the other kinds, a wood-handled hammer is much lighter and suitable for those who hold it for a whole day or often deal with not heavy tasks. In addition, the wooden handle reduces the transmitted stress that can hurt users’ hands. 

b. Steel handle

A frequent steel-handled hammer often has a rubber grip to reduce stress and avoid slipping. It is often used in machinery to deal with sturdy material that needs vigorous blows.  

c. Fiberglass handle

A fiberglass-handle hammer is something between a steel-handled and a wood-handle one. It has an average stress transmission and sturdy level, suitable for light and heavy tasks, but not too intensive. Therefore, this kind of hammer is present in many families.

When do we need to use a rubber mallet?

A rubber mallet has a wooden handle and a rubber head. A noticeable feature of this mallet is that it leaves no marks on the metal surface, so this mallet is mainly used to bend or reform thin metal sheets. In addition, you can use this tool to stick wood fragments together or support a chisel in wood carving as it has anti-bounceback heads on both sides of the rubber block. 

If you want to use a rubber mallet on wood boards, see some helpful tips here

What kind of hammer or mallet is used in paving?

A paver needs to apply vigorous blows on stone pads to make them stick on the ground, so they need a dead blow mallet. A paving mallet is more significant than a frequent dead blow mallet but has the same head structure. Such a head lets them deal mighty strokes without worrying that any bounce back may hurt their bodies.


We hope that the detailed comparison above will help you understand using a hammer vs mallet to choose the suitable utensil for your daily tasks. If you have more than one tool in your kit, consider their characteristics and your work intense to make use of them. Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends and colleagues if you think it is helpful.