I am headed toward the bowl carving stage of my giant kitchen tool making project, and decided I needed a really good carving mallet. There, in my log pile, were four logs of hop hornbeam, from a tree that died on our property. It’s one of the hardest, strongest, and heaviest domestic hardwoods, and the price was right. I rounded off a blank with a broad hatchet, and commenced to turning one.
I got the following info from https://www.wood-database.com. I’ll quote: “Overall, a difficult wood to work. Hophornbeam has high cutting resistance, (which also means that the finished wood product has good wear resistance).” The strength is off the charts as well: “Modulus of Rupture: 14,100 lbf/in2 (97.2 MPa).” That’s a tough cookie, perfect for whacking away at carving tools.
It took awhile to make on my foot-powered lathe, but I used a simple carnauba wax finish to shine it up some; compare these two finishes.
The bottom two pieces of wood are from the same log. The gouge handle is coated with linseed oil, and turned that light brown. The mallet just has a wax finish. Now it’s time to get back to work.