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What are the parts of a bench hook?

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Parts of a bench hook
Base of bench hook A base, also known as the bed.
Bench hook stop A stop, also known as the fence or the front batten.
The hook of a bench hook A hook, also known as the lower or rear batten.

Bench hook base

Base of bench hook The base of a bench hook dictates the overall size of the tool (its footprint on the workbench).
Average sized bench hook The average size of a bench hook is around 250mm (10″ approx.) long by 150mm (6″ approx.) wide, but they can be bigger or smaller and in different proportions to accommodate wooden workpieces of various sizes and shapes.
Small bench hook five inches long This bench hook is just 127mm (5″) long and is useful for cutting smaller workpieces.
Bench hook stop and hook The stop is fixed to one end of the base, and the hook, to the opposite side of the other end.
Saw damage to base of bench hook A bench hook is sometimes referred to as a “sacrificial” tool, which means that the tool is expected to get damaged to prevent damage to something more valuable.

The right-hand side of the base is likely to get damaged if you are right-handed, and the left side, if you are left-handed. This prevents the surface of the workbench being damaged.

Extreme damage to bench hook If you do a lot of sawing and chiselling, the damage to a bench hook can be extreme.

But just think of the damage you’ve prevented to your workbench!


Bench hook stop

Bench hook stop The stop is the batten on the top front end of the bench hook against which the workpiece is pushed during cutting operations.
Stop offset from edge of base The stop is normally shorter than the width of the base and offset from either the left or right edge, depending on whether the bench hook is for right-handed or left-handed use.
Sawing workpiece in the space left by the stop offset It is in this space between the end of the stop and the edge of the base that sawing takes place. Offsetting the stop from one end means that the workpiece can be sawn right through to the base of the bench hook without the saw cutting into the stop.

The base, however, is expected to get damaged to some extent.

Stops secured with dowels and screws

How is the stop secured to the base?

The stop can be secured to the base in several ways. Some are fixed with screws, some with screws and glue, and others with dowels and glue.

Dowels Dowels are short, cylindrical (rounded) lengths of wood. When used for joining wood, they are forced into holes drilled into the pieces to be joined.
Inserting dowels into wood joint The holes are very slightly smaller than the width of the dowel so that the two pieces are securely held once the dowel has been inserted. The application of glue before the dowels are knocked in gives still greater strength.
Planing along the grain using bench hook to hold workpiece As long as the stop is high enough to secure a workpiece against it firmly, it is usually fine for the sawing of workpieces across the grain. However, the height of the stop can be more critical when planing a workpiece along the grain, as the front end of the plane needs to clear the stop on each stroke.
Using a scrap of wood to raise workpiece on bench hook Sometimes a piece of waste wood might need to be placed under the workpiece to ensure the plane clears the stop.
The face of a bench hook stop

Bench hook face

The part of the stop that the workpiece is held against is called the face. In many cases, the face is at exactly 90 degrees to the base.

Bench hooks with raked faces However, the face on some bench hooks is ‘raked’. This means that the corner formed by the face and the base is slightly less than 90 degrees – that is, the face is raked, or sloped forwards slightly.

These bench hooks hanging together clearly show the raked faces.

Bench hook raked face holds workpiece better A raked face really is like a hook that hooks into the workpiece, holding it more firmly.
Dust in the corner formed by the stop and the base of a bench hook Another reason for the raked face is to maintain accuracy even when sawdust gets into the corner formed by the stop and the base.
Raked face leaves gap between face and workpiece A raked face means there will be small gap between the rear bottom corner of the workpiece and the bottom of the face. This allows for any sawdust in the corner formed by the face and the base, which might otherwise force the workpiece into a slightly “unsquare” position..

Bench hook

Hook of a bench hook The hook is positioned at the opposite end of the base to the stop, on the underside of the base.
Hook of a bench hook hooked to bench The hook is rather similar to the stop, but has the function of holding the bench hook against the edge of the workbench. When forward pressure is applied, as the workpiece is pushed up against the face of the stop, the hook presses harder against the edge of the workbench.

The forward cutting action of the tools used on the wood also helps hold the hook against the bench.

Bench hook hooks secured with screws and dowels The hook is usually secured to the base in the same way as the stop – by screws or dowels and often the addition of glue.
Hook goes full width of bench hook base In some cases, the hook is distinct from the stop by being made the full width of the base, rather than being offset from the edge.
Reversible bench hook for left- or right-handed use However, many bench hooks are reversible, which means they can be used either way round. In this case, the hook can be similar to the stop, with offsetting from the edge of the base.

This bench hook can be reversed for left-handed or right-handed use.

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