Monday, July 22, 2013

Productive Procrastination

I have not been able to spend any time woodworking for the last month or so. The last real project I did was the bowsaw class I took with Christopher Schwarz.

This isn't the way I like things to go. I get cranky if I don't get my shop time.

Plus, projects are starting to pile up. I have a dinner table to get working on, and my Shaker side table came to a screeching halt and has stayed there.

The good news, is today was the first of two days that I get to spend in the shop. A perfect time to get in gear and finish this side table. I have made a pledge that no matter what, this table will get finished in these two days.

As is my habit of getting some work going forward on this project, I ignored it and started something new. I decided to make a couple of bench hooks.

Yesterday I found Roy Underhill in a Lie Nielsen YouTube video, where he demonstrates building a pair of bench hooks. Do yourself a favor and watch this video right now if you haven't seen it yet. Roy also demonstrates construction of these bench hooks on his PBS show.

I followed his instructions and had good results.  What's more, this is a project that can be done with my Beginner's Tool Kit.  There really is only a few tools needed to make this project.

The finished product.

Rough stock sized correctly and six squared.

Kerfs to aid in chopping out the waste.

Chopping out the waste.

Cleaning things up with a chisel ...

... and a plane.

Finished bench hooks in use.
My Beginner's Tool Kit contains only a few tools.  A jack plane, a pair of chisels, a Ryoba saw, and something to keep everything sharp.  These bench hooks can very easily be made with these tools.

I did use a couple others on this project.  First, a card scraper makes getting the face of the bench hook to look good easy. Without it, there is an ugly transition where the plane can't reach near the hook.

Of course, I used Trevor the Mallet to bash out the waste.  It worked great.  I made that mallet with the BTK, so I think it's OK.  If you don't have a mallet, I'm sure you'll find something in your shop laying around that will work, such as a heavy piece of scrap.

Lastly, I used a rasp for the round over on the second hook.  The first I did with my chisel, as Roy does, but I rightly thought I could finish it easier and faster with a nice hand-stitched rasp.

My AAR for this project:
  • Roy is hilarious. I especially liked his secret to flawless woodwork.
  • Oak splits like crazy, and one should be mindful of the grain when laying this project out.
  • This is a great project that takes only a couple hours from roughstock to finished product.
  • One of the bench hooks was from a piece of wood that had a crack. I finished the piece, and then glued the crack shut. I probably should have done it the other way around.
  • While one should strive for two bench hooks whose dimensions are exactly the same, there is a point where returns do not justify the time and effort spent.  Mine are close, and will hold a piece of stock any size stable. That is all these are supposed to do.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll get to get something done on the side table.


  1. I saw that video and I thought why not make one and then saw it into two? Just thinking out loud on this.

    1. Hi Ralph,

      I actually thought the same exact thing. I think that a wider board complicates a few things, though. My guess is that hogging the waste out of the middle is easier on a narrower piece.

      With accurate layout, it isn't so hard to get two that are close enough to being the same. These two are dead-nuts the same length, and one is just a bit higher than the other.

      Besides, the stock I had wasn't wide enough for two from the same board!

  2. Nice work! At least something got completed! You're motivating me to do the same.

    1. Finishing something - anything - always motivates me to start something else.

  3. You inspired me to do the same (and write a quick blog about it too)

    1. Hey thanks, Jeremy! Someday we'll have to start a procrastinator's club.

      Nice blog, by the way. I think your bench hooks turned out better than mine.