Canadian Woodworking

Bench Hook

Author: Carl Duguay
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: June July 2007

The bench hook is likely one of the most basic tools in the woodworker’s arsenal.


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Essentially it’s a brace against which you hold stock while sawing or planing. A second brace on the bottom of the jig keeps the bench hook from moving while you saw or plane away. That’s it. Nothing could be as simple or as easy to build and use.

Making the Jig

There are four parts to this jig: a base, a sub-base, and two braces – one on the top (the stop) and one on the bottom (the hook).

  • A jig like this cries out for solid wood, particularly if you have a dandy handmade workbench on which it will sit. With this jig, exact dimensions aren’t critical. Make the jig to suit the kind of stock you will use it with. In fact, make two or three bench hooks for various applications.
  • It is important that the stop is square so that your stock snugs up against it firmly. Don’t glue the stop to the sub-base, rather, screw it on – that way you can more easily adjust the stop so that it’s square to the side of the sub-base, or replace it in the event it gets damaged. A tall stop, of approximately 1″ to 1-1/2″ high, provides good purchase against which to hold larger stock. It also makes a larger fence against which your saw can ride to help ensure squarer cuts. If you’ll be using the jig solely for crosscutting small stock, you can keep the base and sub base fairly short – 3″ to 4″ in length would be adequate. However, a longer base will enable you to use the bench hook as a shooting board to square up the end of stock.
  • Some woodworkers like to drill a hole through the base so that they can hang the bench hook on the wall. Others like to saw a 45º slot into the stop so they can saw mitres.

Using the Jig

There are no ‘tricks’ to using this jig, other than to let the saw (or shooting plane) do the work for you. With one hand you’ll securely hold the work piece against the stop, while with the other hand you’ll saw or plane. Smooth even strokes are best. If you saw too forcefully you’ll likely hit the saw teeth against the base as the cut is completed.

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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