17th-century bench hook…again

When I started this blog a few years back, one of the earliest posts was about the planing stop I use. In the 17th century, this tool was called a “bench hook”  – a term now confused with the wooden jig for sawing and other tasks.

Here is a bench hook I use most of the time, made for me by Mark Atchison. It fits in a wooden block, about 2” square and maybe 6” long. It is based on some archaeological examples, but adapted a bit. As I recall, the one found at Jamestown was quite long…

Alexander has a blacksmith-made version, but also concocted one from a scrap of a sawblade, fitted to a wooden block.

The toothed section is not screwed to the top of the block, but fits with a bolt and nut. Note the hole through the block, there is a captured nut inside there, and the bolt from above comes down to engage that nut. Screwing down through the end grain is not the strongest connection, so Alexander dreamt up this version instead.

The bench hook’s highest point is the teeth, the whole end of the block slopes down from there. To go even further, Alexander cuts a notch in the bench top, just in front of the bench hook’s spot, that was she can knock the hook all the way down, keeping it out of the way of edge tools.

JA ersatz bench hook


So there’s a handy, simple alternative to a custom-made version. The blocks in both these are about 2″ square. When mine wiggles in the mortise in the bench, I just shove a shaving in there with it. That keeps it from moving about.

here’s the earlier posts https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/bench-hook-17th-century-style/



One thought on “17th-century bench hook…again

  1. Peter:
    Another point about the ersatz saw steel bench hook. The price is right! A 2x2x10 inch oak block, scrap saw steel (the heavier gauge the better) and one nut and one bolt are really not that costly. The saw steel can come from an abandoned, rusty saw blade. I appreciate your reluctance to chop a trench in the bench beneath the projecting teeth. I was also until I swept the outside of my left hand into the toothy critter. You have it all together. You are a professional joiner on a daily basis with a cooperative, excellent blacksmith a matter of yards away. I suspect that I am what the English call an “informed amateur.” As such, I want to keep my pinkies unscarred. Your call-until you strike blood!

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