Perhaps you’re wondering what holds the wood steady while you carve. While there are many different vices and clamps available, I’d like to talk about one of the simplest methods – the bench hook.
Here are pictures of four that I’ve made. (You may have noticed a wizard on one of the bench hooks. That’s because it was the first piece of wood I saw after my wood burner was delivered.) You also see that I have a very small bench hook. That is because, at times, I work on small items. I found that when I used my normal bench hook, I had to bend forward to reach the piece, which caused my back to ache. A small bench hook brings small items right in front of you.
Fortunately, bench hooks are easy to make.
They can be any size, and made of any type of wood you have available. Don’t use your good carving wood. Take a look at the picture. The construction is self-explanatory – it only takes 4 pieces of wood and two are cut the same size (the top and bottom ones). Cut the wood to whatever size is convenient for you, glue, then screw the pieces in place, sand a bit, and you’re done. I usually glue a nonslip material to the bottom. You can also glue a non-slip material to the top surface of the bench hook (if you aren’t using the dowel or the bench dog method) or just place a piece of the non-slip material, cut to the correct size, on the bench hook before carving.
The non-slip material can be purchased at any Walmart, K-Mart or Target. You will find it in the department where throw-rugs are sold. This material will come in a clear plastic package, probably hanging at the end of an aisle. Its original use was to be placed beneath a throw-rug to keep the rug from slipping. You’ll find the packages come in various sizes. I bought a 5’ x 10’ piece and will have it forever. It also makes a nice lining for your tool box.
For one of my bench hooks pictured, I used an idea from master carver, Joe Dillett. Using a drill press, I drilled 3/8” inch holes in the bench hook, and then cut 3/8” dowel rods into 1-1/2” inch pieces. These dowel rods hold odd sized pieces in place while I carve.As always – thanks, Joe.
Here is Joe Dillett Bench Hook