Many sawing jobs can be carried out with the timber held in a vice, but the sawing of tenon shoulders, and many other smaller, shallower cuts in thinner timber, will be done best using a bench hook. This is a traditional piece of equipment in the United Kingdom, consisting of one large block of wood with an end block fixed on either side. Generally, it is made of beech with the end blocks doweled to prevent any possibility of the saw striking screws or nails. The bench hook is usually held in the vice, but it can be used freely hooked over the edge of the bench. Either side of the bench hook can be used.
Normally, mitres are cut with a tenon saw. The mitre can be marked out using the mitre square or the combination square. A quicker way is to use a mitre block.
This is usually made in beech, and comprises two pieces jointed at 90 degrees and 45 degree slots cut in the upstand. It can be held in the vice or screwed to the bench. The saw passes through the slot and is held in the vertical with the timber held firmly against the upstand.
A more efficient tool is the mitre box – the timber is housed between two slotted slides. The slots are sometimes reinforced with brass guides. A deluxe metal version has saw guides which can be adjusted to the exact thickness of the blade. The largest size will take timbers up to 4x2 inches/100x50 mm.
Another metal model, which not only incorporates guides for the saw but also screw clamps for the timber, ensures great accuracy in cutting. This tool is particularly valuable where careful cutting of picture frames is needed. An extended model has sawing positions for both 45 and 90 degrees. Made in gray iron with accurately machined faces, this tool can also be used for joint work.
A greatly superior mitre cutter is one which has its own built-in saw assembled on easy-moving bearings. It can be quickly adjusted to cut at 90 degrees, 60 degrees and 45 degrees, and incorporates an adjustable stop for measured cutting. Unfortunately, it does not have a timber-clamping device.
An increasingly popular tool is the jointmaster. This tool was designed to cut lap joints, mitre joints, tenon joints and many other cuts at degrees varying between 10 degrees and 170 degrees using a 12 inch/300 mm back saw. It accommodates quite large timber and can be used with success by even the most inexperienced woodworker. The timber is held in place by wedges and pins.
The dedicated woodworker will devise many different ways of holding for saws. A device used by the author for many years for repetitive sawing is the sizing board. This is made in blockboard or multi-ply wood.