Bench hooks are undoubtedly one of the most straightforward and practical workshop accessories you can make. While some may be more aesthetically pleasing and functional than others, even the most basic bench hook can be as helpful as an extra set of hands. This handy tool eliminates the need for a vise or jig, allowing for quick and efficient cutting. It serves the same purpose as a bench dog and more complex versions even facilitate easy mitering. So, let’s dive into a concise guide on crafting a basic bench hook.
First Things First: Understanding the Bench Hook
Before we delve into the step-by-step process of making a bench hook, it’s essential to understand its purpose. At its core, a bench hook holds the workpiece securely in place while crosscutting with a hand saw. This handmade accessory improves cutting accuracy and provides an extra layer of safety.
Positioned on top of your workbench, the “hook” extends over the front edge. This setup allows you to push the workpiece with one hand against the temporary fence while making the cut. The fence remains stable, held in place by the front lip of the bench hook, which essentially “hangs” on the bench. This design frees your hands to control the material without the need to steady the board simultaneously.
For added stability, you can combine the use of a face vise or clips to hold the bench hook firmly in place.
As you can see from the accompanying photos, a simple bench hook doesn’t require much. Just like the author, you don’t have to be the most attractive to be useful! All you need are three pieces of scrap wood secured with screws or robust wood glue. Part A functions as the fence, Part B serves as the base, and Part C acts as the “hook.” There are numerous approaches to creating a customized bench hook to suit your specific needs.
Steps to Craft a Bench Hook
Locate a plank or boards for Part B and determine the necessary length and width. If you primarily intend to use it for cutting purposes or as a bench substitute, opting for a shorter size is viable. However, if you plan to utilize traditional woodworking tools like hand planers and spoke planers, consider constructing deeper bench hooks for optimal performance.
Trim sections A (fence) and C (hook) to match the width of section B (base).
Attach sections A and C to the opposite ends and sides of Part B (refer to the above photo). Ensure that Part C securely hooks onto the front edge of the workbench. Be mindful of countersinking any screws or fasteners to ensure they are flush with the wood.
Additional Options for Mitering
If you desire added functionality, consider pre-cutting a bevel in section A of the fence. This modification enables quick and effortless angled cuts. Nevertheless, double-check that the angles are correct before proceeding.
Rachel’s Reward-Bonus for Pull Cuts
For a unique twist, let section B protrude slightly beyond section A of the fence (not flush, as shown in the picture). This adjustment allows you to use a bench hook with a Japanese saw, enabling you to make cuts while pulling the stroke. In this way, you can also exert force on the far side of the fence instead of solely pushing against it, as you would with a western saw.
Furthermore, you may notice that the bench hooks are reversible. This reversible design allows you to increase the miter angle or start over if the first attempt does not yield satisfactory results!
Crafting simple bench hooks is an excellent woodworking project for beginners and a highly practical tool for seasoned craftsmen. Despite being often overlooked, its usefulness should never be underestimated. We hope you enjoy creating your new bench hooks. If you have any additional tips on making them, please share them in the comments below. Alternatively, get in touch to provide your own pro tip!