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How to use a bench hook with saws
that cut on the pull stroke

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Cutting with tenon saw using bench hook for support Generally speaking, hand saws manufactured in Europe, including the UK, cut on the forward or ‘push’ stroke – that is, as the saw moves away from your body. This includes the tenon saw, like this one, which is very often used in conjunction with a bench hook.
Japanese pull saws However, some saws manufactured in other parts of the world cut on the back or ‘pull’ stroke – as you are drawing the saw back towards you.

These include what are know as Japanese ‘pull’ saws.

Blade and handle of Japanese pull saw are perfectly balanced They are favoured by some woodworkers because they have thinner blades than European saws, which means they make a finer cut, giving greater accuracy.

They are guided on the cutting stroke by pulling with the fingers and thumb rather than pushing with the heel of the hand. Some people find they can cut straighter this way.

A Japanese pull saw LIke the tenon saw, Japanese pull saws are often used in conjunction with bench hooks. However, pull saws pose a problem for users of conventional bench hooks.
The workpiece is usually positioned on the user's side of the stop The workpiece is usually positioned on the woodworker’s side of the stop, which counteracts the forward cutting action of a European saw.
With a pull saw, the backwards cutting action tends to pull the workpiece away from the stop. With a pull saw, the backwards cutting action tends to pull the workpiece away from the stop.
Using bench hook 'backwards' to cut on back stroke One solution is for the woodworker to face the bench hook from the opposite side of the workbench, but this should only be done where your bench hook has a stop that is offset from the side you will be working on. Otherwise, the lack of an offset risks the blade of the saw cutting into the workbench.
Bench hook for use with pull saw A better solution, if you regularly use a saw that cuts on the pull stroke, is to purchase or make a slightly customised bench hook.
Cutting with a Japanese pull saw This type has its stop offset a few inches from the front of the base, so the workpiece can be placed on the far side of the stop for cutting on the back/pull stroke.

Workpieces can still be placed in front of the stop for use with saws that cut on the forward/push stroke.

Bench hook held in vice
Place the hook of the bench hook in a woodworking vice if you find that the backwards cutting action moves it back from the edge of the workbench.

See our section How to secure a bench hook in a vice for further information.

However, since these saws are usualy for fine cuts, sufficient forward pressure from your non-sawing hand should prevent any backwards movement.

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