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What is a Bench Stop?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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A bench stop is a device used on a work bench or table in a wood shop. Users place objects against the bench stop to hold the object in place as they work. This stop may be as simple as a piece of scrap lumber nailed to the surface of the bench, though more complex units are also available. The bench stop allows the user to sand, plane, or cut wood while keeping the wood from slipping or moving out of position. This not only makes woodworking safer in many instances, but also allows for greater accuracy and precision.

Users may find bench stops offer a number of advantages over traditional metal clamps. Moving or adjusting the position of an object is quick and easy, and typically requires no tools or special equipment. While some clamps can dent or damage the surface of soft wood, there is no such risk of damage with a bench stop. Finally, while clamps block users from accessing some areas of the wood, the bench stop allows for uninterrupted access of the entire surface.

A bench stop may be either mortised or surface-mounted. Mortised units are cut into the work bench, and sit flush with the surface when not in use. They may feature a built-in thumbturn or an adjustment screw, which allows users to raise and lower the stop. While this type of unit frees up table space when not in use, it is also fairly difficult to install, and requires a permanent hole to be cut in the work bench.

Surface-mounted units sit on top of the bench, and are typically held in place with screws on bolts. They may interfere with other activities when not in use, and should be placed as far out of the way as possible to minimize interruption with other work. Surface-mounted stops are easy to install and are also removable when they are no longer needed.

Workers often choose bench stops based on size and height. Shorter stops do not extend as high as the surface of the wood, making it easier to plane or sand an object without hitting the stop. Taller stops are more effective for holding large objects, but may make it difficult to sand or plane the end of the wood evenly. Adjustable units are also available, and offer multiple heights to work on different types of projects. They may feature adjustment screws or different mounting options to allow users to choose the desired height.

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Discussion Comments
By Mor — On Nov 25, 2011

@pleonasm - I actually prefer to use a bench hook as well right now, just because my work bench is built in to the garage, and I rent the place, so I don't feel right about adding something as a bench stop.

But, when I get my own place and my own work bench, I think I'll get a more advanced bench stop that's adjustable. Even a bench hook doesn't work perfectly all the time, and I'd rather get something I can fix in place where ever I want it to be.

By pleonasm — On Nov 24, 2011

My father always used a bench hook, rather than a bench stop. The idea is the same, but a bench hook is a separate piece of wood from the work bench and is made to "hook" onto it, so that when you push your bit of wood against it, it won't move.

If I remember correctly, dad had a right handed one at first, but that didn't work so well, because he was left handed. In the end he made his own and it was quite easy to make.

So, if you don't want to put something onto your work bench, consider using a bench hook instead of a bench stop. I'm sure you can find pictures of them online so you can see what to make.

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