Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mallets, Mauls, and Dummys

Masonry: An Elementary Text-book..., 1914
Mallets, mauls, dummys, and similar hammers are the only masonry tools that are also used for other crafts. These short-handled hammers are used to strike chisels or other steel tools in soft stone cutting, stone carving and letter cutting, woodworking, wood carving, leather working, and jewelry making.

The traditional mallet has a wood head, the maul has a leather head, and the dummy's head is brass, copper, bronze, zinc, pewter, steel, cast iron, or wrought iron. The modern dummy can also be nylon or urethane. Handles are commonly hickory in the US, and elm or beech in the UK and Ireland.

The heads are round, usually an inverted truncated cone, which has several advantages over the standard one- or two-faced hammer or mallet. The user does not have to keep the hammer head aligned with the chisel and can keep his/her eyes on the work. A round wood head reduces the risk of the wood splitting, proves a wide wearing surface, and gives extra weight. A round metal head will not mushroom, the force of the  blow being distributed across a wider area.
Wood mallet, USA

Metal dummy from Pembrokeshire, UK
Masons' Mallet .—These tools are very important to the mason. They are usually made of beech or hickory. Pearwood, if well selected, is also excellent for this purpose. The beat of the mallet, or that portion coming into contact with the chisel head, is on the end grain of the wood. It is a speculation, when buying a mallet, as to whether it will prove a success or not. When a craftsman secures a good mallet he prizes it beyond all the other items in his tool kit. They are used in sizes according to the material or the detail to be cut, and in conjunction with the mallet-headed tools. From Modern Practical Masonry, by E.G. Warland, 1929.

Cast iron dummy by Tiranti of London
Mauls and dummys are traditional designs with a long history, but beginning in the early 19th century, inventors began patenting leather mallets or mauls. These use rings or discs of leather or cardboard, compressed by threaded iron or steel rings on a threaded steel shaft.

An early patent that was manufactured was by Allen P. Partridge (1806-1872) of Medway, Massachusetts, with US Patent 46,972, issued 21 March 1865, and US Patent 127,363, issued 28 May 1872. With his son David Allen Partridge (1833-unk.), he operated Allen Partridge & Son 1870-71, and David also worked as agent (salesman) and treasurer for West Medway Mallet Co. from 1875 to 1886. The 1865 patent has a rod which extends through a hollow wood handle, with a large screw slot at the top. The 1872 patent has a large hex nut with patent information at the base of the head, and the handle is solid wood and extends through the head. Medway had shoe manufacturing and marble and granite finishing businesses, and it's clear from Partridge's 1865 application that his mallet was to be used in those trades. Some West Medway mallets also say NEA & N Co. or UA & N Co., in addition to W. Medway at the base of the head.
West Medway No. 4 maul, US Patent 46,972
Partridge maul, US Patent 127,363
George B. Goddard of Brockton, Massachusetts obtained US Patents 202,165, 211,149, 414,808, 662,691, and 763,553 for leather mallets and a mallet handle. Goddard patent mallets were manufactured by Brockton Mallet and Machine Co. An 1897 article in Iron Age said, "The company are manufacturers of and wholesale and retail dealers in all kinds of Mallets, Mauls, Hammers, etc., being exclusive makers of Goddard's patent Raw Hide Mallet, Leather Covered Chisel and Bicycle Handle, and Goddard's Raw Hide Pinking Roll."

Goddard maul, US Patent 662,691 
New leather mauls are available in the US from C.S. Osborne and Wirsing.

The Complete Book of Trades, 1842
Don Dougan has additional information about the long history and uses of these tools, from a stone carver's perspective.

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