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Bench Hooks

Bench Hooks

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Published by palotito_e
Workbench accesories; Standard Bench Hook, Miter Block ans Miter Shooting Board
Workbench accesories; Standard Bench Hook, Miter Block ans Miter Shooting Board

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Published by: palotito_e on Jun 24, 2010
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03/13/2013

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Even in a contemporary workshop filled with power tools and timesaving devices,it often is more practical and convenient toperform some woodworking tasks, suchas final fitting of joinery and detail work, atthe workbench using hand tools.Since temporarily relocating with myfamily to a two-bedroom apartment indowntown Washington, D.C., I’ve em-braced this notion to the extreme. My shophere, tucked into the corner of one of thebedrooms, consists of my bench andmy most essential hand tools. Just asimportant is a collection of benchhooks that I draw on regularly, which are capable of performing arange of tasks, including cuttingsquare and mitered ends as wellas fine-tuning miters and ends toperfection. Even in less extremeshop conditions than mine, these benchhooks are indispensable tools.
Beyond the basic bench hook
In its simplest form, the bench hook is aplatform that can be held steady against a workbench for performing tasks such ascrosscutting and handplaning. A hook onthe underside of the platform fits over theedge of the bench and keeps the platform
114
FINE WOODWORKING
Rules of Thumb
BY CHRIS GOCHNOUR
Expand your workbench with versatile bench hooks
STANDARD BENCH HOOK 
This bench hook excels at holding stock whencrosscutting as well as handplaning. An extensionarm addssupport for long stock, and an auxiliarydeck can be used for planing thin stock.
Hook one end over the workbench.
The benchhook makes easy work of cutting the shoulder on atenon (above). The step on the edge of the benchhook provides a true and square surface to guide abench plane for trimming the end of a board (right).
 An auxiliary deck raises thin stock.
 A solid-maple shim reduces the height of the stop block to accommodate thin stock.
TASKS FOR THE STANDARD BENCH HOOK
Platform, maple,
7
 ⁄ 
8
in. thick by8
1
 ⁄ 
2
in. wide by17
1
 ⁄ 
2
in. long Hook,
7
 ⁄ 
8
in. square,sits in a
1
 ⁄ 
8
-in.-deeprabbet.Planing step,
3
 ⁄ 
8
in. deep by2 in. wideDust trap,
1
 ⁄ 
8
in.deep by
1
 ⁄ 
8
in. wide11 in.betweenhook andstop blockAuxiliary deck,1
1
 ⁄ 
8
in. thickStop block, 1 in. thick by1
3
 ⁄ 
8
in. high by 6
1
 ⁄ 
2
in. long,sits in a
1
 ⁄ 
4
-in.-deep dado.Extension arm,
7
 ⁄ 
8
in. thick by1
3
 ⁄ 
4
in. wide by13 in. long 
 
steady as forward pressure is applied. A stopblock on top of the platform, perpendicu-lar to the edge of the bench hook, supportsthe work while it’s being cut or planed.The bench hook I favor expands on thisbasic design. On the right side of the plat-form I cut a wide rabbet that serves twofunctions: First, it protects my workbenchfrom being damaged when I use the jig tocrosscut material with a backsaw. Second,it guides a handplane when the benchhook is used as a shooting board. I use thisfeature often to square and true up endgrain after crosscutting.The bench hook is handy for workingtenon shoulders and cheeks, but I get fur-ther use from it with a thick auxiliary plat-form, which raises the worksurface toabout
1
 ⁄ 
8
in. below the planing stop. In thisconfiguration I can plane small, thin piecessuch as loose tenons or splines.I also have a second, narrow hook, whichI use with the standard bench hook toby a buildup of sawdust between the jigand the plane.
Two bench hooks for miters
I prefer to cut and fit small bits of moldingright at the bench. The precision thismethod affords is hard to beat: It cuts downon trips across the shop floor to the mitersaw or tablesaw; and I’ve found it to be thesafest way to handle small and fragilepieces of molding. To make perfect mitersconsistently, I use a pair of bench hooks: amiter block for rough-cutting, and a mitershooting board for fine-tuning. A miter block is a version of the benchhook designed to guide a sawcut at a 45°angle in two directions. It serves as a simple version of a miter box. I made mine of solidalder. On the miter block, the hook andstop block are attached to the platform witha dado, similar to the standard bench hook.There’s only one secret to the miterblock, and that’s setting the 45° kerfs in thesteady long stock. Bothhooks arethe same thickness, and the stop on the nar-row hook is set the same distance from theleading edge as it is on the standard hook.
 Use solid, stable materials—
Because Iuse the bench hook so often in my day-to-day work, I made it from
7
 ⁄ 
8
-in.-thick hardmaple, which is relatively stable. For largerbench hooks you might consider usingthicker stock. Quartersawn lumber is ideal,if available, because it’s more stable thanplainsawn stock.I also cut dadoes in the platform wherethe hook and the stop block attach, to en-sure that they hold steady and remain per-pendicular to the edge of the platform.I find one other detail about my benchhook useful. I cut a small groove in the in-terior corner of the planing step to collectsawdust that accumulates when trimming with a plane. The groove eliminates po-tential inaccuracies that could be caused
116
FINE WOODWORKING
Rules of Thumb
(continued)
MITER BLOCK 
Designed for rough-cutting miters, the miter block is a combination of a bench hookand a miter box. Forward pressure keeps it steady on the bench while the workpieceis held tight against the stop block, and the sawkerfs guide the sawblade.
Rough-cut miters.
The miter-block bench hook is con- venient for cutting small pieces of trim or molding.
Platform, ash,
7
 ⁄ 
8
in. thick by 6
1
 ⁄ 
4
in. wideby 12 in. long Hook,
7
 ⁄ 
8
in. thick by
7
 ⁄ 
8
in.wide by 12 in. long Rabbet,
1
 ⁄ 
8
in. deepby
7
 ⁄ 
8
in. wideStop block, 1
3
 ⁄ 
4
in. thick by2 in. tall by 12 in. long Stop-block dado,
1
 ⁄ 
4
in. deep by1
3
 ⁄ 
4
in. wideSawkerfs

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