Saturday, October 29, 2011


A thoroughly nasty day today, with gusting winds, cold temperatures, and wet weather including snow (an odd sight when most trees are still full of green leaves). A good day to stay indoors, so my plans of more shopping for my woodcut class were postponed. I did get to the Studio for a few hours. Part of that was to grade two classes worth of charcoal drawings from this past week's college classes. The drawings were spray fixed by the students, but still I figure it's better to not risk getting charcoal dust on everything around my home.

The other thing I did was finish up some bench hooks. A bench hook is a simple construction, a flat piece of wood with narrow strips of wood attached to opposite sides and ends. It is always recommended when using gouges to cut a block to cut in the direction away from oneself. In use, the block is placed on the bench hook, with the far edge of the block right up against the raised strip on the top side of the bench hook. Meanwhile, the strip on the bottom side butts up against the edge of the table, keeping it (and the woodblock) from sliding across the table as the artist gouges the wood. It can also protect the table immediately around the block if a tool slips across the block. I never use one myself- I just hold the block with my left hand while cutting with my right, and I've never had an incident. However, a beginner might not have the control I have with my tools, so I decided to make a few to have around, just in case.

Early last week I had begun the process, cutting out a few pieces of half inch plywood, and some strips made from narrow scraps of plywood, but I ran short of time and realized that since no one would be cutting the first week, there was no hurry to finish them by then. Such things could be handy this coming week, so I continued the project today. I cut half my wood strips in half, then used the radial mitre saw to cut 45 degree angles on the end of each half. I also predrilled a bunch of holes in all the strips, resulting in what's seen above.

Later back at my apartment, as light snow was falling and dinner cooking on the stove, I put them together. I lined up the short angled strips and held them in place with C clamps while I screwed them into the top side of the wood. After that I flipped each piece and screwed the whole strips to the bottom of the other end. Two of the finished ones are shown above. The angled section isn't completely necessary (many bench hooks are just flat strips on both ends/sides), but having the notched angle pieces allows a square block to be held at an angle while cutting, which could be useful. It can also provide a more secure hold for irregularly shaped blocks (including round), or if flipped upside down, a more secure fit against the edge of a round table. I'll have three of various sizes available for my class next week.


Post a Comment

<< Home