Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's a Bench Hook? 2nd. Meeting of the Hand Tool Class

     You may recall that the first project for the class currently held at Wooditis Studio and School is a bench hook, a project I refer to as Project Over-Kill.  Why you may ask, well I've taken this fairly simple shop made appliance and added dovetails, tongue and groove, and dowels to its joinery to make it something that that will be useful but also remind the students of the struggles they may have had making it in class.
     Basically a bench hook is something you hook over your bench, picnic table, truck tailgate, etc. which allows you to secure your wood while you work it.  It works because your hand that is holding the board is putting pressure against the part hooked over the working surface.  Below, I'm putting a chamfer on the bottom of a lid with a block plane.  Other uses are for sawing and chiseling -- they really are a great addition to any woodworkers tools.

Bench Hook in Action

     Although two students were unable to make it to class Thursday those who were here accomplished both parts of the dovetail and will no doubt be gluing up next session.  There is much that goes into making dovetails.  The process begins with carefully transferring the tails onto the pin board:

Transferring Markings

     Something anyone who's done dovetails probably realizes is that since the joint is hand cut and the two parts make a perfect match you need to label the pieces.  I'm sure I'm not the only one to cut a perfect joint only to find out I used the wrong end of the board!  Well, in a class situation you also need to make sure it's your board and not a classmates -- note to self for next class.
     Once your marking is done it's time to make the cuts:

Saw Cut Straight Please

     Here's where we learn that the success of sawing really depends on the body mechanics we use.  Here we see some good form with a Japanese style saw.  The handle is nestled next to her forearm, the saw is parallel to the board, and it looks like she's on track.
     Once the saw cuts are made to separate the pins it's time to chop out the waste between them:

Chopping Out the Waste
     This is the part of the work that takes time and requires a sharp chisel.  We had a session on sharpening to underscore that.  As I told them, sometimes you're lucky and the joint goes together easily but other times you may have to fiddle around with it for quite some time to get things to fit.  I know that there are furniture builders who make this joint on a daily basis and theirs will almost always drop right into place.  For most of us though, it's a bit more effort.
     Just a reminder, next week we'll meet on Wednesday instead of Thursday.  I'll be there shortly after 5:00 in case you want to catch up or get some extra help on your project.  We'll be cutting the material for the tool tote and give the dovetailing a rest while we start with lap joints.  See you then.


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