In Tricks of the Trade

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A bench hook is an indispensable workholding device for crosscutting. The traditional bench hook is made of a base, a stop or rest and a cleat. It is usually used against the apron or front edge of a workbench, or clamped in the vise.

To crosscut a long piece, I used to place a spacer that was the thickness of the bench hook at the other end of the stock. Frustrated with finding a scrap of the proper thickness and length all the time, I decided to cut my wide bench hook into two and use one half as the spacer. A split bench hook was born with little extra work.

To prevent either piece from getting lost in my shop, I keep the base and spacer together using dowels (Dominos would also work) set into to the edges of the two boards, but glued in to only one piece. The holes on each edge are about 1″ deep while the dowels are 212” long, leaving a 12” gap. The gap serves two purposes: I can pull apart the two halves with ease, and I can hang the split bench hook onto a nail or hook.

Using the split bench hook is the same as using a traditional one-piece design, but finding a spacer to support a long piece of stock will just take a split second. –Charles Mak


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