The deeper I fall down the woodworking rabbit hole, the more I’m drawn to shop-made solutions. I discovered a video of Roy Underhill of the Woodwright’s Shop making something called a bench hook, and it was a real forehead-slapping moment for me. Woodworkers spend a ton of time and money on work-holding clamps and jigs. This video serves as a reminder that tons of forgotten knowledge exists about how craftsmen did things before the dawn of the modern clamp. Fortunately folks like Roy feel a responsibility to pass down old but far from obsolete knowledge to schmucks like me who would otherwise solve their problems with an army of Bessy clamps.
What The Heck is a Bench Hook?
A Bench Hook is a workbench accessory that uses the momentum of your own woodworking movement to limit your work’s ability to shift across the workbench. A traditional bench hook consists of three pieces of wood:
- One piece stretches partway across your workbench and your work rests on top of it.
- A second piece is fastened to the bottom of the first which will lock against the front of your workbench.
- A third piece is fastened to the top of the first, which will prevent your work from pushing across your bench as you saw, plane, or chisel.
Shown below is a video shot by Roy Underhill for Lie Nielson Toolworks on how to make a bench hook out of a single, foot-long piece of wood. I really like this design, and Roy conveniently offers dimensions such that you can make a bench hook out of scrap 2 x 4 if that’s your wish. You can see in the picture above that that’s exactly what I did. Using about 2 feet of scrap 2 x 4, I created a set of bench hooks that should work great, you know… once I finish building my work bench!