Bench hooks are one of those shop appliances that just about every worker needs in their shop. They are super easy to make, can be made from just about any scrap wood, and only take a few minutes to whip out.
My last pair of bench hooks have finally gotten to the point of replacement. They were made from 3/4" plywood and a couple strips of 3/4" pine. Having used those for the past few years I decided to replace them with a pair made of solid wood. There is not amazing profound reason for changing the material, other than I would like them to be a little heavier and thicker than 3/4" material.
These new bench hooks are made from 1" thick VG DF, left over scraps from when I made my tool chest. I decided on two boards 9" wide and 13" long, to me that is just about the right size for a bench hook. For the cleats I am using one piece 1 1/2" wide by 9" long and another that is 1 1/2" wide by 7" long.
To assemble these bench hooks I first start with gluing and screwing the bottom full width cleat into place. I use three screws, that are countersunk, for the full width cleat.
Now, no matter what materials you use, I wouldn't worry about the cross grain situation. In this case, I am using quarter saw material, so it really doesn't matter. But, even if it were flat saw Pine, I still wouldn't worry. The material is small enough that any wood movement will not really affect the way they perform. Just start with flat and dry material.
The top cleat is much the same process, just make sure it is on the proper side of the bench hook. For the top cleat I like to screw them from underneath, leaving no screws visible on the face side. This isn't a big deal, just a personal preference. To attach the top cleat I had to use a spacer to make the clamping process easier. I also only used two screws.
One thing I should also mention is this: Why have two inches of space to the right of the upper cleat?
First, you need some space for sawing, though in general you don't need more than 1" of space.
Two, I use that 2" of space for quick measuring. When I cut stock for pegs, glue blocks, spacers, or trimming tenons to length, I can use the known 2" distance for measuring. My eye's can easily divide the space up and cut anything from 1/4" to 4" in length without breaking out a ruler. It may seem like a little thing, but I can't tell you how often it comes in handy.
In a matter of a few minutes the bench hooks are done. Most of the time you may only really need to use one bench hook, but with longer boards you will be glad you made two. Making them exactly the same is very beneficial, like in the photo, the board is supported equally and will not move around while sawing, chiseling, or working with a joinery plane. I should also mention that making sure they are the same height is a good idea too.
Making bench hooks is a quick and easy project that anyone can tackle, and you will be glad you took the time to make them while working on your next project.