What is a bench hook?
A bench hook is a woodworking accessory that enables a piece of wood to be held firmly in position on a workbench while it is cut.
It has no moving parts and acts simply as a support for the workpiece (the piece of wood currently being worked on).
By keeping the workpiece firmly in place, a bench hook can help prevent errors, improve precision and increase safety.
The cutting is usually done with a saw...
...but can also be done with a plane...
...or a chisel.
Why is it called a bench hook?
Although the tool is called a bench hook and does have a part that is called the 'hook', it does not look like a traditional hook.
It gets its name from the way it 'hooks' to the workbench with one of its two battens - pieces that go across the width of the bench hook on opposite sides of either end . . .
. . . and the way the workpiece 'hooks' against the other batten, as shown here.
It is the forward pressure of the woodworker's hand on the workpiece and the forward cutting action of the tools used to work the wood that hold the bench hook in place.
When a piece of wood held by a bench hook is being sawn, the wood is usually cut across the grain.
Wood grain is the direction, texture and pattern of the fibres that make up a piece of wood.
The bench hook is very often used together with a tenon saw, or back saw.
This saw has a reinforcing spine, or back, along the top of its blade to keep it very stiff, which improves the accuracy of the cut.
Some bench hooks are designed specifically for either left-handed or right-handed use, with others designed for use either way.