In the spirit of my saw guide, I had the opportunity this weekend to build a few jigs for future use. In about twenty min, here they are:
From front to back:
A bench hook, which I consider a necessity for students to learn to saw by themselves.
A wooden speed square – just a 45 deg. right triangle with a hook on the end.
A shooting board – which I have to learn to use. It’s used to cut 45 degree angles in a piece of wood or for a block plane to smooth end-grain in mitered cuts. I don’t know if this design is the best, but it’s a start.
If I would choose one of these for students to build, the best answer is the bench hook. A bench hook is a large, flat board with a strip of wood attached to each end. Seen from the side, the jig forms an S shape. Place the hook against the workbench so one end catches the side of the bench. Then place your piece against the strip facing up. Begin cutting. Like this:
The bench hook gives a nice, solid surface for a student to cut on. It’s easy for them to build on their own with minimal adult intervention and maximum self-discovery. I love the fact a student can lean into the hook and steady the stock to be cut. It doesn’t have to be square to work, but it has to be square to work perfectly – my students can decide on the level of accuracy they believe they need.
The only other way I like to teach sawing is with an end vise – like this (look just behind the blade and you will see the vise):
I love how that picture came out. It’s my new desktop background at work.