Anyone for Cookies?

Issue no.16 (February/March) of British Woodworking magazine has just hit shelves. If you haven’t already bought a copy, I’d highly recommend you do so, (if only to read about the drop-leaf table I built at college, last year!). Earlier in this issue, you may have noticed that I recently bought a set of four bench cookies from Rutlands (previously only available from Rockler in the US; also available from Classic Hand Tools). In addition to what you may have already read in that article, I wanted to take this opportunity to delve in to a bit more detail. Just how useful are these cookies…? Before we go any further, I feel I should point out that these cookies are identical to the ones available in the US [minus the option of a free T-shirt or mug!]. In fact, they’re clearly branded with the “Rockler” name, which suggests they’ve been imported directly from the US retailer. Perhaps, in future, we’ll see more US-exclusives available to buy direct from UK suppliers? It’s fair to say that these cookies have become quite popular, across the pond. Price-wise, £10.95 isn’t too bad, when compared against the cost of international shipping and the risk of facing import duty and tax.

Using a 125mm/5in. random orbit sander.
Routing a short length of 45mm beech.

Sanding and routing are two woodworking operations where these cookies clearly have their uses. What I didn’t have a chance to mention in the article was that they’re actually very good at holding short work pieces. It could be to do with the  fine rubber mesh (which also seems to prevent marking your timber when you’re sanding). I’ve never found the rubber mats to be very good at holding anything less than 450mm/18in. in length, even with one mat lying on top of the other.

They're quite useful when hand-sanding.
Rubber mats can leave oily prints on a freshly-sanded surface, like this.

So far, I’ve yet to see how well (or, if) they’ll hold on to any length of timber with a belt sander racing over the top… I can’t imagine the results would be too good with a narrow piece or single length of timber… Rubber mats don’t excel in that field, either – in fact, in could increase the risk of the odd broken window pane! They seem to hold narrow stock securely when I’m biscuit-jointing so, I’d presume they’d also offer good support to those of you fortunate enough to own a Festool Domino… When I built my workbench last summer, I chose the finish the top with three liberal coats of Danish oil – some will advocate this approach; otherwise prefer an unfinished bench top, with more friction. Yes, the surface remains pretty slick and, for that reason, I’ve found the rubber mats don’t grip the surface very well (there can be a lot of movement when sanding). I usually end up laying a sheet of MDF on the bench top below the rubber matting. With the cookies, however, it’s a different story. You wouldn’t thick it but, they hold a firm grip on the oiled bench top (again, it must be that fine mesh).

...And also, for light stress relief!!
Useful when cutting biscuit slots.

My general opinion is a very positive one. They don’t suffer from some of the ‘faults’ associated with rubber matting and they even make certain tasks easier, in the sense that they’ll keep a flush-trim, bearing-guided router cutter clear of your workbench surface. You can perform just about any routing operation in one pass, without having to stop to move, reposition and re-clamp the timber. Compared against the cost of a single mat, these would work out more expensive, at almost double the price (depending on where you look for matting). For one-off jobs and components, they’re ideal. But, if you wanted to layout and sand a series of kitchen cabinet doors, let’s say… Then, it would be cheaper to buy a multiple lengths of rubber matting, than it is to purchase several packs of bench cookies.

Thank you for reading.

Can you think of any other uses for these Cookies?

Any questions? Please get in touch.

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