Anyone who’s been following this blog for the past year will know that I’m a fan of Rockler’s work-holding Bench Cookies [if not then, see this post, from almost one-year to the day!]. Back in the autumn, I noticed that the Bench Cookie range had extended over in the US. Thankfully, the new ‘Plus‘ range of accessories made it in to Rutlands’ 2011 catalogue at the dawn of this year and they’re now available to the UK market (certain products were even on special offer, recently…). It’s taken about three-weeks but, I finally got my order in and, earlier this week, I got to try them out for myself.
That first photo shows you what the Bench Cookie Plus system is all about; the use of risers that fit nicely in to common ¾in (19mm) dog holes. Depending on the height and clearance required above your workbench, you screw one end of the ‘dog’ directly in to a steel thread in the centre of each Cookie. With the dogs removed, a pack of four ‘Plus‘ Cookies is still as effective as the original products when it comes to holding boards and table tops firmly on top of your workbench while sanding or routing, for example. One obvious benefit of having these new riser fittings is that a standard-length jigsaw blade should comfortably clear the surface below the wood you’re cutting – this would benefit anyone cutting an opening for a sink in a worktop and there’s no longer any need to hang the work piece awkwardly over the edge of your workbench. Although I haven’t yet given these an extensive workout, they seem be as reliable as the originals. You could probably use them with in conjunction with a circular saw operation as well – but, you’d need to make sure that you position the Cookies away from the cut-line (!) and also, that both halves of the board are adequately supported (…two pairs of Plus Cookies?!?).
Another smart addition to the range came in the form of the Bench Cookie Cones which, as a rival to the popular Painter’s Pyramids, are designed as an aid to finishing, while protecting the rubber pads of your Cookies from becoming contaminated which would adversely affect their holding performance. Each cone is of a plastic construction, which means it should be easy to remove excess glue and oil spillages as they should chip away easily once dry. With a fine but rounded point at the peak of each pyramid, the idea is that they’ll offer support and clearance to a table top or panel where the finish is drying on one face and, at the same time, this point will not dig in or dent even soft woods. As it’s too cold in my workshop right now for any finishing jobs, I haven’t yet been able to put this to the test. However, after pressing a scrap of 18mm MDF on top and sliding it around, I noticed that each Cone had begun to very lightly scratch the surface of the board, which suggests that these should not be used as “work-holding” devices while the Cones are fitted. Their grip certainly isn’t as effective as a Cookie without its hat on. Ideally, you should leave the finished piece resting on the Cones, undisturbed.
When they’re not required, these Cones can be stacked together in one of two different way. Three tabs allow each Cone to be attached and removed from a Cookie with absolute ease. Also note the neat plastic tub that the Plus Cookies come supplied in. I cannot honestly remember whether my originals came in a similar form of packaging…
Height-for-height, an assembled Bench Cookie Cone is still a few millimetres short of the Painter’s Pyramids. So, you couldn’t combine the two to evenly support one job unless you were to place shims (thin MDF?) below each of the Pyramids. Oh, yes, that spirit level is brand-new, too – more on that in a blog post coming to you shortly! 😉
This is probably as good a place as any to mention that the manufacturers behind the Painter’s Pyramids have also developed their own product to include ‘wings‘ for secure mounting and, also, tabs for tidy stacking. See Dakota Painter’s Pyramids with Wings, for more information. Both changes have coincidentally addressed my two grips with this system. However, as you don’t need to manually fix the Cookies in place to prevent them from sliding on a slick surface, I still consider the Cookie Cones to offer greater value for money […Every woodworker should now own a set of basic Bench Cookies. There’s no excuse, now! ;-)].
My only quandary now is going to be sorting out a means of convenient storage for my growing collection!! Even if these were available in the UK, I couldn’t see myself buying this Storage Rack idea – for a start, I’d need to buy two pairs of racks, as this one purchase alone would bring my total number of Cookies up to twelve! 😎 We’re still missing the mug and gift set but, if there’s still one US-exclusive product I’d like to see available over here, it would have to be the Bench Cookie Home; a set of print-free that could be used to support every day items and furniture all around the home.
Wouldn’t it be great to have our very own Rockler store on these here British isles… Not only do they offer an unquestioned range of woodworking tools, jigs and accessories (much of which is exclusive to America) but, as proven with the Bench Cookie brand; they’re prepared to put the time and effort in to research and development. Somehow, I don’t think we can expect B&Q or Wickes to ever implement a similar level of invention, let alone anything replicating a vaguely similar level of innovation! 😛
Thanks must go to Rutlands, once again, for bringing these products over and offering them to us at very reasonable prices. No word as yet from Classic Hand Tools, who are the only other UK supplier I know of to offer the original Bench Cookies.
Thank you for reading.