Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Barbara The Mallet Lasted Longer Than My First Marriage!

The Good: Generally durable, Inexpensive
The Bad: Rubber head is not as durable/heavy as many
The Basics: A very average rubber mallet, the Great Neck Saw 16 oz Rubber Mallet is relatively durable, inexpensive and fulfills the basic functions of a rubber mallet well.

Whenever I write about tools that reference my first marriage, my wife gets understandably irate and soon after something from my past is usually found around the house broken. Because my tool chest was largely a wedding gift from my ex-father-in-law, as I go through reviewing items from it, I find myself inadvertently annoying my wife a bit more than I would like. So, in order to try to get her to smile (or to experience a real sense of irony as she smashes items from my past with a tool from my ex-father-in-law or attempts to destroy the mallet itself - what does one bash against a rubber mallet in order to try to break it?!) I thought I'd review Barbara. Barbara is the one pound rubber mallet from Great Neck Saw that I got in my toolbox as a wedding gift from Marriage 1.0. Yes, we named the rubber mallet, no I'm not sure why we did that.

The Great Neck Saw 16 oz. Rubber Mallet is the most basic possible rubber mallet I've yet found on the market. It is intended to be an inexpensive mallet option for home use and it was manufactured accordingly. The mallet has a rubber head, which is just over 2 1/4" in diameter. Intended for very limited whacking, the Great Neck Saw 16 oz. Rubber Mallet is one foot long from top to bottom of the handle. The head is a barrel-shaped head that is 3 3/4" long with flat, circular heads perpendicular to the mallet's handle. The head is attached to the wooden handle by a metal nail that seems virtually impossible to pull out of the mallet.

A rubber mallet, this one included, is very easy to use. Holding the handle, one swings the mallet at the object one wants smashed, bashed or nailed in (see stipulations below) and the force of the mallet colliding with the object usually puts it where the user of the mallet wants it to go. Mallets like this one are most commonly used in household use for closing paint cans and knocking trim back into place. Using a rubber mallet to close paint cans traditionally leaves the paint can mostly intact in order to get it opened up again later, whereas metal hammers bend the metal lids and can tops and apply force in a tighter position, which more often than not means the opposite side of the paint can pops up when one hammers the lid in. Trim that is held in with tiny nails that one has lost track of may be gently knocked back into place with a rubber mallet with less of a chance of damaging the wood trim than with a hammer.

There are, literally, hundreds of uses for a rubber mallet like this one, but it is not for use as a sledge or tapping small-headed nails into place. Trying to split wood with a one-pound, one-foot long mallet is pretty much pointless as the user cannot possibly get the leverage they need in order to split wood. Moreover, with the rubber head, the Great Neck Saw mallet is just as likely to bounce back and smack the user in the face (don't ask me how I know). Similarly, this is not a sufficient substitute for a tack hammer. A tack hammer is designed to tap tiny nails back into place whereas nails with tiny heads (like the ones where the head is essentially the same size as the shaft) are likely to embed themselves in the head of a rubber mallet if one tries to use this for that purpose. This is, arguably, the only real drawback of the Great Neck Saw Rubber Mallet for most home users. The rubber from this inexpensive mallet may become chipped and scratched incredibly easily.

So, after five years of use around my home, Barbara has several scars. Most notably, one side of her head is no longer flat; the rubber there became pitted when my ex- used Barbara to try to nail many small nails. This left holes in the mallet's rubber which eventually caused pieces to split off when Barbara was used on other projects. The other side of the head only has scratches. Scratches are pretty normal when the tool is used properly because even heavy rubber wears when it is used to bang more solid objects into other objects or surfaces.

What impresses me about the inexpensive Great Neck Saw Rubber Mallet is that despite some surface pitting, for over five years, the head has never come loose (I used this to bang wooden slats back onto my fence with great success back in the day). As well, on the side that has been properly maintained and used, it has never denatured or worn in a way that makes me feel unsafe using it.

No longer owning my own home, I use Barbara a lot less now, but when I do need her to put paint lids back on metal cans, she works excellently. And when she gives out, I am sure I will get another; there are more specific tools that might do the jobs which damaged Barbara initially, but for the rubber mallet needs, I don't need a heavier mallet and this is inexpensive enough to replace once every ten years or more!

For other tools, please check out my takes on:
Soundbest International 8" Round File
Michigan Industrial Tools 8 oz. Rubber Mallet
Stanley 60-006 6 5/8" Cabinet Screwdriver


For other home and garden product reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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