Popular Woodworking already has a comprehensive guide on making and using a bench hook full of good information, so I hesitated for a moment before adding my particular version. However, I thought it worthwhile because there are many ways to skin a cat, I have some board left over from the last two projects, and because there is nothing wrong in reminding anyone new to woodworking how useful a bench hook can be – regardless of the version you make. What I like about the type I describe here and in the video below is that requires little or no precision to make and takes mere minutes.
I’ve made mine from pine, yes it’s a little soft but it’s to hand and I don’t feel the need to invest in nicer timber or wait until I have some hanging around. It also has the batten running across the grain, screwed and glued into position. I like this because the batten helps hold the board flat, I have no concerns about moisture movement here. The board below the batten is only about 7″ wide and the arrangement is similar to old floorboards on joist or boards on a ledged and braced door and that always seems to work just fine. The screws also hold the wood down without the need for clamps.
Because I don’t use the bench hook as a shooting board (although you can and it is a good method) it is totally not critical how square the battens are screwed on. Naturally, if you can cut square and then glue and square flush, they will not be out by much but I could not care less if there were out. That’s about it! I also find I can use my pull saws fine on this style of hook. Some pressure is needed irrespective of push or pull cut, but do find out what works well for you. I’ve had feedback that some people find locating a bench hook in a tool well can work great on pull saws so as always keep an open mind. I hope this post has encouraged those new to woodworking to investigate the humble but effective bench hook.