A leather working maul is the “hammer” of the leather craft. It’s something you’ll use often and enjoy having a quality tool. Some recommendations include paid links to products that I trust.
I really think the Barry King, 16oz, tapered maul is one that will serve any leather crafter well for years (click here to see it on amazon). It is crafted from quality materials, Barry King is renowned for making great tools, and crafters are always pleased with using them.
While this maul will be great for most projects, it can be helpful to be aware of why to choose a maul, and what to look for in a great one.
When to Choose a Maul for Leather Working
Mauls are used for a variety of impact tasks during leather working. The choice of which to use is driven by a combination of use and personal preference. Generally, mauls work well for punching and tooling.
Leather working mauls are hitting tools that have a weighted head wrapped in a nylon cylinder. The softness of the nylon makes it suitable for hitting metal leather working tools, such as punches and stamps. Since the nylon is dense, it provides a very solid and effective hitting surface that absorbs shock and delivers a steady hit. Since it is soft, it won’t damage the tools.
If you’e using punches or stamps often, this is a very handy too to have. Mauls come in different sizes and weights. The heavier mauls will generate more hitting force, though will be a little heavier to hold/swing. It is very much personal preference as to the weight and style of the maul used.
What to Look for in a Quality Leather Working Maul
Handles can be made from leather (often disks stacked on top of each other), wood, rubber, or plastic. The leather handles are classic, comfortable, and develop a nice patina over time. The wood handles are also visually nice and feel comfortable. Rubber handles are a newer handle material, though also comfortable as they absorb more shock from each strike than wood.
The heads are mostly nylon. Some used to be leather, though the nylon material provides a nice, dense surface that generally lasts a while.
A well-balanced maul will feel comfortable in the hand and smooth throughout the striking motion. Better quality mauls will generally have a nicer balance. Less expensive mauls might have lighter wood, or plastic, for the handles leading to a heavier lean towards the head. Some crafters prefer a balance towards the handle, some towards the head, and some more even.
Mauls come in different weights. The heavier the weight, the more force is applied to what is being hit. For smaller stamps and punches, a softer hit might be preferable. For heavier leathers and larger punches or stamps, a heavier weight might be preferable.
Also, different folks like different weights just on a personal level. Some like heavier mauls, some lighter.
Some heads are round, and some are tapered. The tapered heads generally require less elbow movement to strike down, which could be more comfortable to some than the round head. The object can be struck at a slight angle, instead of top-down.
What Works Best?
I originally got a very inexpensive, generic-brand maul (click here to see it on amazon), just to learn if I would like using it over a mallet or hammer. It had a rounded head, and I found I did enjoy using a maul a lot.
This one works fine, and can definitely produce some nice results. However, balance isn’t perfect (a bit head heavy) and I can see how the materials, fit, finish, and build quality of a finer quality maul would be noticed. Also, a nice maul can last possibly a lifetime, so worth getting a little better one. I can also see myself enjoying the angled had, requiring less elbow angle for repeated strikes of punches or stamps.
So the next one I get will likely be the 16oz Barry King tapered maul (click here to see it on amazon). I might consider the 24oz if I find I’m doing heavier leather work. Overall, very much looking forward to it as it’ll be a nice tool, well-balanced, and look like a crafter’s heirloom over time.
A leather maul is a core leather working tool, and will be a great addition or upgrade to the tool set.