I decided to take my own advice and complete a mini project.
At the moment I have a clear bench but not much floor space in the Workshopshed as it’s being used to store a lot of garden things over winter. For woodworking that means I’ve got a big engineer’s vice or just resting things on the bench, neither of which is ideal. So I decided to make a bench hook, it’s a simple project so does not really need any plans. It can also be built from pretty much any scrap wood you have.
The bench hook is the first thing that my old woodworking teacher Mr Lloyd taught me to make back in school. It’s a simple tool that helps you when sawing, it also teaches a few skills along the way.
The basis of the bench hook is three pieces of wood; a flat board and two shorter battens. I did consider using plywood for the base but I had some handy pieces of plank left over from making the drawers a few years back. The battens were some of the wood left over from rebuilding the roof.
Preparing the wood
I started out with the battens and planed them smooth and square on all faces. To check the surfaces are flat use a metal ruler on the edge. If both sides are flat then you can check for parallel by simply measuring the thickness at each end as any difference would be amplified at ends. Don’t cut them to length just yet, wait till you’ve planned up the board.
The board also needs to be square and flat. You can also cut this to size and sand off any rough edges.
Now you can cut the battens. They want to be about a thumbs width shorter than the width of the board. This is so that your work is supported when sawing. Note that it is normally to end up with a slot in the hook after use. You can make a new base when the hook gets too ragged.
You’ve a couple of choices for the holes you can either drill the board or the battens. I went for the latter as their smaller size makes them easier to managed in the drill it also means that the base will be totally smooth. Make sure you have some supporting wood underneath so that the drill does not cause the surface to break out when the bit goes through.
You also want to countersink the holes, you might want to set your drill stop for this so that all of the countersinks are the same size.
You could glue the battens as well as screwing but that’s not really necessary. The screws need to be long enough to go through the battens and into the board but not too long so that they would come out the other side. Carefully line up the batten on the end of the board and all the way to the left. Make sure the countersinks are upwards and clamp in place. It might be a good idea to use a bradawl to create a pilot hole or if using a particularly hard wood then you should drill a pilot hole. Screw both screws tightly down. You do the second side make sure the batten is all the way to the right and then you will have a bench hook that can be used both left and right handed.
Finishing and using your bench hook
I’d suggest not putting any paint or stain on your bench hook as those might colour the items that you are cutting.
So to use your bench hook, place it on the table and use the palm of your hand to push both the work and bench hook forwards. Your other hand is then free to saw.