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Australian Woodsmith 3rd March 2021
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Bench Hooks

Usually a hold-down is used to clamp a workpiece flat against a benchtop. That’s okay for some work. But if you’re sawing, drilling or routing, it often requires clamping the piece so that it overhangs the edge of the workbench. As a result, it’s not adequately supported, which makes for a rough, less-than-accurate cut.

Creative solution. A more versatile solution is to make a set of bench hooks that hold the workpiece securely above the bench (main photo). This provides clearance underneath for bits and blades, letting you work directly over the bench.

Easy to use. As useful as they are, I’d have to say that these bench hooks are a bit unusual looking. So it’s not immediately apparent how they work — until you put them to use. To do that, simply set a bench hook on the bench and push it forward until the heel catches the edge of the bench (inset photo). Then place the workpiece on top and butt it against the stop at the end. Several of them spread apart can support any size workpiece.

To make the piece stay put as you work, just continue pressing it against the stop. A light touch is all that’s needed. And since the heel is engaged on the bench, this pressure keeps the bench hook from shifting forward. Small blocks attached to the sides of the body of the bench hook keep it from tipping side-to-side.

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SAFETY IN THE WORKSHOP Safety devices, such as riving knives, guards on table saws and guards over router bits have been deliberately left out of the line drawings in Australian Woodsmith projects in order to make them easier to follow. It goes without saying that where safety devices have been supplied by the manufacturers you should use them. We encourage the use of push sticks as good work practice.
    Exercise vigilance and the greatest of care when using power tools, whether stationary or portable. Keep all your tools sharp and well maintained. Wear protective eyewear, a dust mask and a hearing protector when appropriate. By limiting distractions and developing safe work practices you will go a long way to avoiding workshop accidents. So, work safe fellow woodworkers.  -Editor
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