I started wrapping marimba mallets during my first year at college—a couple of my older colleagues knew how to do it, and were very generous with their time in showing me how. Once I understood the basic techniques for wrapping and stitching, it took about a month of wrapping and shredding the same set of four mallets every day before I could get them to come out consistently. I used commercial mallets for pretty much all my playing at the time, but I've used more and more of my own stuff as time has gone on.
I think that most percussionists would be well-served by a more thorough knowledge of mallet construction. I created the Open Source Mallets video series after percussionist Nicole Pronger asked me for some basic information about building marimba mallets. In the series I discuss cores, handles, various intermediate layers, and the basic steps of yarn wrapping. My plan is to update the series on an as-needed basis—I've got a couple of ideas for some advanced wrapping videos, and I'm happy to address any questions sent my way.
If you're interested in saving money, I can't recommend making your own mallets highly enough; latex tubing and yarn are inexpensive (a skein of yarn rarely costs more than $6 and will wrap anywhere from 10-15 mallets, and latex tubing is around $5/ft), so once you get your hands on some mounted cores, experimenting with mallet design is pretty darn feasible.
Please click on the photo below to see details about the latest batch of mallets I've made, or click here for information about earlier mallet construction projects.