Many products exist to support no-slip needs in the workshop. The old standby of PSA-backed sandpaper has its place; however, the downside is that it can mark your work or workbench since it is, well, sandpaper. A product that has been around for years is rubber, high-friction, non-slip material, which provides a stable platform for routing or sanding on the workbench. These non-slip mats have been taken up a notch with the addition of a peel-off, sticky backing to allow them to be attached to clean dry surfaces.
This PSA-backed rubber material comes in many forms, from large sheets to pre-cut ready-to-use sizes. Pre-cut round 2 ¾” Grip Disks fit hockey pucks to create bench pucks that can be used for shop work standoffs. Many of us have a few old pucks in the garage, which can be re-purposed as shop accessories. If there are none lying around, they are quite affordable to buy. You can up your game by using the orange weighted practice pucks that have a bit more mass. The added weight also keeps them in place better.
For those not familiar with shop work standoffs, they have a vast number of uses. In many shops, they are used to hold work above the bench to either avoid cutting or drilling into the bench, or to allow access to all sides for working or finishing. A small table top, for example, can be placed on four pucks to allow for easy sanding and finishing of the top and sides, and to provide easy access to all surfaces.
High-friction material is also available in smaller (1" and 2") pre-cut disks or larger sheets of material that can be cut to suit the application. Many shop jigs, such as bench hooks and shooting boards for example, are built to hold the workpiece in a stable position for working. However, unless these jigs are clamped to the bench, they often move around during use. This impacts precision and, most important, the safety of these jigs; nobody wants a saw hook sliding on them mid-stroke when cutting a piece. A few strategically placed circles or strips of the high-friction material locks the jig to the bench top, while still allowing it to be moved around easily.
Sharpening set-ups, such as stone or glass holders, can also benefit from added stability in use. The high-friction material is rubberized, which means it has some give, so it will confirm to shavings and material on the bench to ensure a stable and safe work platform. An added benefit of the high-friction rubber material is the sound-deadening, which helps keep the workshop a quieter place.
Pick up four practice hockey pucks and an eight-pack of 2-3/4" Grip Discs to take your work-holding game to the next level.
Text and photos by Richard Wile
Richard Wile, Lee Valley staff member, is a woodworker from Nova Scotia who has built musical instruments and furniture from all genres. He has also taught and written about woodworking both locally and abroad. Follow him on Instagram: @rdwile