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What is a Bench Hook?

By T. L. Childree
Updated May 17, 2024
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A bench hook is a simple device used in woodworking to hold a piece of wood steady while it is being worked on. This device is not considered to be a woodworking tool, but rather an essential accessory. Bench hooks are typically constructed of a rectangular piece of hardboard or plywood with a narrow piece of wood on the top side of one end, along with a similar piece on the bottom of the opposite end. A bench hook is often used to take the place of clamps and vices that can sometimes damage delicate pieces of wood. This accessory is typically utilized during chiseling, planing, or sawing operations and can be inexpensively purchased or home-brewed.

The narrow pieces of wood on each end of the bench hook are known as stops. The lower stop is used to hook the device to the woodworking bench. During use, the piece of wood being worked on is pressed against the upper stop to keep it in the proper position. The upper stop is usually slightly shorter than the lower stop to allow room for a hand saw to move freely during cutting operations. During use, both the wood and the bench hook are held firmly in place by the pressure of the woodworking tool being used.

A bench hook helps woodworkers eliminate both damage and errors by holding the wood firmly in place during a procedure. The bench hook also reduces the risk of injuries caused by slipping and sliding wood pieces. The configuration of this device helps produce a smooth and even cut when sawing because it supports the entire piece of wood. Bench hooks also protect the woodworking bench from damage during chiseling, planing, sawing or other related operations. In addition to woodworking, this versatile accessory can also be used when working with other materials such as PVC pipe and various types of metal.

Bench hooks are available in both left-handed and right-handed versions in several different sizes. Bench hooks are relatively inexpensive and can usually be found at hardware and home improvement stores. Although they may be purchased commercially, many woodworkers prefer to construct their own bench hooks using pieces of scrap lumber. Woodworkers will sometimes make several of these devices in different shapes and sizes for particular applications. Since it is designed to absorb damage from woodworking tools, a bench hook will probably need to be replaced periodically.

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