For those of you who remember the cover of our 2014-2015 Main Woodworking Tools catalog, it will be no surprise to learn that I have an affinity for bench stops. This cover features 21 different mechanical bench stops, among the best from our antique tools collection.
This year, we have chosen the Millers Falls #56 Bench Hook as the inspiration for our annual tool reproduction (made by Veritas). Not only is it an elegant and thoughtful design, it is straightforward to install in any bench. The sprung head has four different jaws and locks in place in discrete 90° increments with a continuous range of height adjustment up to 3/4" above the mounting surface.
Originally patented in 1910 by the Goodell-Pratt Company as the #196 bench hook, it was designed during the latter years of what could arguably have been the most prolific period in the advancement of non-powered woodworking hand tool development (say that ten times quickly!). Millers Falls acquired Goodell-Pratt in 1932 and tweaked the bench-hook design somewhat before dropping the model number by 140 places and releasing it as their own Model #56. We, too, have made a few changes to the Millers Falls #56 – perhaps we should drop the model number another 50 places and market our version as a #6.
Of course, you could just as easily sink a few flat-head #10 or greater wood screws into your bench top – backing them out a bit when you need a stop or two – but that just wouldn’t have the cachet of what we feel was the acme of bench-hook design. Cheers,
Robin C. Lee
Chief Executive Officer