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Especially durable construction. Ergonomic grip. Solid hickory handle. Features hard yellow side and soft orange side. Optimized for heavy-duty work. Made in the USA.
Not for smaller hands.
Includes heavy rubber mallet and 2-sided soft hammer. Comfortable rubberized grip. Wide flat mallet face. Especially durable. Long handles. Lightweight. Shock-absorbing handle.
Best for construction professionals.
Minimal risk of damage to struck surfaces. Large and wide flat face. Comfortable hickory handle. Bounce-resistant design. Available in 12 and 18-ounce sizes. Made in the USA.
Not for heavy-duty projects.
Affordable. Features a hard end and soft opposing end. Rubberized grip. The bold pink color makes it stand out in the toolbox. Rugged fiberglass handle.
Only available in 1 size.
Available in hard, soft, and combination rubber mallet heads. Durable shock-absorbing handle. Lightweight. Optimized for a non-damaging strike. Made in 16 and 32-ounce sizes.
The black end may leave smudge marks.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
You will find a basic rubber mallet in many toolboxes. While you'll often see them in the hands of someone laying pavement, they're also used by carpenters, auto body engineers, and even jewelers.
The rubber mallet has evolved into a variety of forms that provide the best tool for the various trade workers who use them.
A steel hammer wields a lot of power, but that can be a problem if the surface you're striking is fragile and likely to crack or split. For example, tile and laminate flooring could easily break under the pressure of a steel hammer. It is also not ideal if the surface you’re hitting is likely to mar with impact, as with wood and sheet metal.
In these cases, a rubber mallet is a better choice. The head of a rubber mallet usually has a significantly larger striking area than a hammer, so while it still has plenty of force, that force is spread over a larger area.
A rubber mallet is not a complicated tool, but you still have choices to make when it comes to the head and handle.
The standard rubber mallet head is simply a molded lump of black rubber or synthetic rubber. These mallets are available in a variety of weights, from a few ounces to several pounds.
The drawback with black rubber is that it can mark some surfaces. As such, you will commonly see rubber mallets that are half black and half white. Some rubber mallets are completely white. (You might ask why they don't just make all rubber mallets white. The answer is that the white material, though similar in performance terms, is more expensive.)
The main disadvantage of a solid rubber mallet is bounce-back. It's uncomfortable and potentially dangerous if you hit something with a lot of force. If it keeps on happening, it could cause a type of repetitive strain injury.
Reducing the bounce is done in a number of ways:
Some manufacturers change the composition of the rubber.
Some manufacturers use a forged steel head with rubber caps or tips. This offers arguably the best compromise between a hammer and a mallet, though the additional weight can restrict the head size. Also, having three components makes these tools slightly more expensive.
The ultimate bounce reduction comes from what are called “dead -blow” tools. The heads are actually hollow and partially filled with steel shot or another fluid material. As you strike, the content surges to the front, acting as a shock absorber. As a result, there is virtually no bounce.
While dead-blow hammers are advantageous in demolition and other situations where a lot of force is needed, many tradespeople prefer a degree of bounce to give them feedback — especially when a light tap or series of taps is required to set something in place.
Rubber mallet handles are made of wood, fiberglass, or steel.
Wooden handles (usually hickory or ash) are inexpensive, and most people like the way they feel in the hand. These handles naturally absorb some of the shock of impact and are easily replaced if damaged.
There are a couple of negatives. Fluctuations in humidity make wood expand and shrink. This can eventually lead to the head working loose, in which case the handle would need to be changed. Also, these handles also not very durable — especially if they get wet. (Notably, a wooden handle with a polyurethane coating will be slightly more durable.)
Fiberglass handles are lightweight and have tremendous strength. What’s more, fiberglass resists many of the chemicals that would harm a wooden handle. There's little difference in price, too, which is why many consumers are leaning toward fiberglass nowadays. The only disadvantage is that if a fiberglass handle does break (not common, but it does happen), you would likely need to buy an entirely new mallet.
Steel handles are all but unbreakable. They cost little more than wooden ones, so you would expect them to be really popular. They aren't. In our view, the problem is that they flex under impact, exaggerating any bounce in the head. If you’re worried about breaking a wooden or fiberglass handle, a rubber mallet with a steel handle could be right for you, but the majority of rubber mallets — even dead-blow tools — use either wood or fiberglass.
There is one further type of rubber mallet construction: all-in-one molded models. Usually dead-blow, the head and handle are entirely encased in a polyurethane shell. The result is very durable. Though sometimes these handles aren't very comfortable, it's seldom a problem because users would normally be wearing work gloves with this kind of tool.
One final consideration is handle length. The longer the handle, the more force you can generate.
We often shy away from recommending the cheapest tools because of durability issues, but with perfectly good basic rubber mallets available for around $5, there's no excuse not to add one to your tool kit. Having said that, we normally recommend spending a little more to get a quality tool from a trusted brand.
As mentioned, there is little if any difference between the price of a wooden handle mallet and the price of a fiberglass handle mallet. Prices do rise a little when you have a mallet head made of two materials or a forged head with rubber or synthetic rubber caps. However, they are still very affordable, with most costing between $20 and $35.
At the top end of the scale, you'll find enormous six-pound dead-blow models for under $70, so even the biggest and best rubber mallets won't break the bank.
Holding your mallet high up the shaft, close to the head, might seem safe, but it actually restricts your striking power and also your control. This form is called “choking”; it’s not balanced properly. Instead, use a firm but relaxed grip in the middle of the handle.
A rubber mallet might be soft compared to a steel hammer, but it can still deliver a great deal of force. Whatever you hit could break or shatter, so always wear protective glasses or goggles.
Accurate striking takes practice. The trick is to focus on the object you're hitting, not on the mallet head.
The Coleman Rubber Mallet is a basic, low-cost tool with a useful little twist that will appeal to campers: at the end of the handle, there's a hook for tent peg removal. Can't decide which is the right size rubber mallet? The Tekton 30508 3-Piece Rubber Mallet Set is the answer. This set of three mallets — eight ounces, 16 ounces, and 32 ounces — gives you all the choice you need, and the cost is noticeably less than it would be if you were to buy them separately.
Q. What's the difference between a mallet and a hammer?
A. Generally speaking, a mallet is made of rubber, wood, or occasionally leather. It has two striking faces, which may be of the same or different materials. A hammer is made of metal (usually steel) and typically has one striking face and another tool opposite it. For example, a hammer may have a split pry for removing nails.
Q. Can I use a rubber mallet in place of a wooden one?
A. It depends on the task. A wooden mallet is usually used to hit a wood chisel or to knock together or open up joints. A rubber mallet can be used for the latter, but if you try to use it with a chisel, the weight and feel is wrong.
Different types of mallets aren't really interchangeable. As with any task, you'll enjoy more success if you choose the right tool from the start.
Q. Is there an easy way to prevent a black rubber mallet from marking the surface it hits?
A. The easiest thing to do is use a white rubber mallet! However, assuming all you have is a black one, try wrapping the head in a piece of light-colored material, such as a soft cloth or a strip from an old t-shirt.
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