Look, Ma! No router mat!
October 26, 2009 | 7:00 pm CDT

One of the most talked about new products to debut at AWFS was something from Rockler called Bench Cookies. Rather than a tasty snack, these cookies offer a clever solution to common work-holding problems (see a video of this product in action).

Bench Cookies get their name from their obvious resemblance to the popular Oreo sandwich cookies. But instead of two cookies surrounding a cream filling, Bench Cookies have textured neoprene pads on either side of a blue plastic disk. The result is an ingenious tool for work holding.

No more mat 

Rubber router mats have become widely popular for routing and sanding applications to secure work without awkward and time-consuming clamping. But sometimes the mats just don’t work. Either they won’t secure the work or you need to get to the edges as when using bearing piloted profile bits.

Bench cookies meet this challenge by both securing the workpiece and elevating it about an inch off the bench surface. That means you have full access to the surface and all four edges of a typical rectilinear workpiece without changing your setup. That saves lots of time.

Just as a router mat uses rubberized friction and pressure to secure a workpiece, so do Bench Cookies. The neoprene on one side of each cookie grips the bench, and the pad on the other side grips the underside of the work. The cookies are sold in sets of four, so you can use them like little feet under the four quadrants of your workpiece. For irregular-shaped work, you can use more or fewer cookies as required.

How they work 

In our tests, the gripping power of the Bench Cookies was fairly impressive. They held great for belt sanding the top surface of a part and for routing the top surface and edges. When we applied extra strong torque with an extra-course 24-grit disk in a powerful random orbit sander, we did get some spinout. But the cookies held just fine when that same sander was working 80-grit or finer papers.

We also tested whether the cookies were affected by sawdust and chips both on their gripping surfaces and on the workbench. Surprisingly, even covering the gripping surfaces with dust and chips seemed to have little effect on their ability to secure the work.

At only about $12 for a set of four, Bench Cookies will pay for themselves in time-saving on the first part you process. And I suspect creative woodworkers will find many more uses for these as time goes on. For more information about Bench Cookies, visit www.rockler.com.

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.