what-are-bench-hooks-made-of

 What are bench hooks made of?

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Hardwood

Hardwood bench hook As they have to stand up to quite harsh treatment, serving as protectors for the workbench top as well as very effective stops for holding the workpiece in place, bench hooks are often made from hardwood such as beech or oak.

Softwood

Softwood bench hook Some bench hooks are made entirely of softwood, like this one. They are unlikely to last as long as the hardwood type.

Plastic

Bench hook made from 100 per cent hi-impact recycled polystyrene Although bench hooks are commonly made of wood, some are made of plastic.

This one is made from 100 per cent hi-impact recycled polystyrene, moulded in one piece.

Homemade bench hooks

Making your own bench hook As many people make their own bench hooks from pieces left over from other jobs, they can be made from many different types of wood.
Home-made bench hook Woodworkers often make their own bench hooks to specific sizes, to suit the particular sizes of wood they are working with.
Close-up on plyboard base of bench hook Individual parts – the base, stop and hook, and the sub-base if one is fitted – can be made from different materials.

For instance, the stop and hook might be beech, but the base could be plywood, which is unlikely to warp.

Plyboard base of bench hook Plywood consists of a number of thin sheets of wood – called veneers or plies – glued together together to give a composite that has great strength.
Preparing the parts of a bench hook including MDF base Other manufactured wood products, such as MDF (medium density fibre board) and chipboard have also been used to make bench hook bases, but these tend to cut and break rather easily.

The parts pictured here will form a bench hook that has an MDF base and a softwood stop and hook.

Advantages of wood

Mending a bench hook The advantage of hardwood or softwood over plastic is that if the base, stop or hook of the bench hook gets badly damaged, the individual part can be replaced relatively easily.

A bench hook moulded as one piece out of plastic would be far more difficult to repair. This is because spare pieces of plastic of the right kind are unlikely to be available, cutting pieces to size could be problematic, and fixing plastic pieces together firmly is not as easy as screwing down a piece of wood.

Hardwood bench hook However, a hardwood bench hook, like this one, is preferable to softwood because it will damage less easily and will last longer.

How the bench hook parts are fastened together

Bench hook stops secured with dowels and screws The hook and the stop of a bench stop are usually fastened to the base using screws or dowels.
Wooden dowels Dowels are short, cylindrical (rounded) lengths of wood. When used for joining wood, dowels are forced into holes drilled into the pieces to be joined.
Applying glue to the stop of a bench hook Glue may be used in addition to the screws or dowels, but it is inadvisable to use glue on its own given the fairly high degree of pressure that may be exerted on the stop and the hook.
Bench hook with stop screwed to base Using screws without glue has the advantage that the stop or hook will be easier to remove should a part of the bench hook need replacing.

However, the absence of glue might mean the bench hook’s stop or hook is more likely to move after continued use.

Bench hook stop with hidden dowels Dowels can be hidden by drilling holes for them only part-way through from the hidden side of the stop or hook . . .
Visible ends of dowels in top of bench hook stop Or the ends of the dowels may be visible in the top of the stop.

Screws may also be hidden with plugs of wood, or left visible.