The Icing on Work Standoffs
Poutine. Ice hockey. The outstanding parking ticket I owe in Montreal.
I know I’m going to get spanked for this by our neighbors to the north, but those are the three things that come immediately to mind when I think of Canada. Yes, I know there are many wonderful things about Canada, and I would dearly love to retire to Vancouver or Prince Edward Island. Heck – if I could telecommute and work out the legalities, I’d move to either of those two places now.
The fourth Canadian thing that comes to my mind is Lee Valley – and it goes with number two, ice hockey, for purposes of this post. You see, Lee Valley has now thrown its hat in the non-slip friction pad ring – and the company is using hockey pucks to do it.
Credit where it’s due: Rockler was the first to bring to mass market pads with non-slip/high-friction surfaces that are used to lift your work off the bench and hold it in place for such jobs as routing, sanding and finishing. You know them as Bench Cookies.
We also have in our shop Wolf Bench Paws from Platte River Engineering (they’re the paw-shaped pads in the picture above, in case you couldn’t guess), which have a hole in the middle of each that accepts a 3/8″ dowel pin to raise your work higher (and on points) for finishing, and the paw has built-in storage for the dowels (and screws that come with it for securing the paw to your bench, should you wish to do that).
Lee Valley decided to supply high-friction sheet material with a sticky backing that you can cut into whatever shape you like to stick on any surface you deem suitable. And then, I can only surmise, someone looked in his or her kids’ gym bag and had a D’oh! moment. So now, Lee Valley has discs cut to fit standard hockey pucks for all those old pucks you have kicking around. And they sell hockey pucks, too, for those of us who have lots of old soccer balls kicking around instead. What do they call the product? Bench Pucks, natch.
I’ve tried all three of these products to keep a flat piece of wood in place while running a random-orbit sander over it, while using a trim router to round an edge and while taking a light shaving with a smooth plane – just to see if they really keep the workpiece in place. The Bench Cookies, the Wolf Bench Paws and the Bench Pucks all work as advertised.
So why choose one over another? Well, the Bench Cookies were first, so points there, plus Rockler has a whole series of Cookies and Cookie accessories for difference applications. The Wolf Bench Paws aren’t round so they don’t roll off the bench if you set them on their sides, and the bright yellow makes them easy to find in a cluttered shop. The Bench Pucks are heavy enough (6 ounces) to hold down a Roubo poster that has been rolled up too long and too tightly because someone hasn’t yet gotten around to making a suitable frame (who, me?!), and they may (if you live in Canada or maybe Boston) re-use a readily available product that you might otherwise have thrown out. And really, the hockey thing just makes me laugh. And makes me want poutine.
p.s. If you’re in Cincinnati for Woodworking in America (or any reason) and have a hankerin’ for poutine (or high-end hot dogs), make plans to eat at Senate in the “Gateway Corridor” district of Over-the-Rhine. Awesome. And get the fried egg on top – trust me.
p.p.s. Fifth on my list of Canadian things is “I’m crushing your head.” I miss that show.