Workbench #12: Bench Dogs

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Blog entry by CartersWhittling posted 10-17-2011 06:16 AM 6992 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Tail Vise Has Begun Part 12 of Workbench series Part 13: Tail Vise Is Complete »

Hello. This weekend had I finished up my tailvise and made the bench dogs for my bench. I am currently making up a video to show you the tailvise, so when that is done in the next day or two I will post the finished vise.

I made one dog for each hole in my bench.

Aswell as a special dog that fits in the first hole in the tailvise for when I need to clamp work that would be to short otherwise.

I have a thin strip glued with the grain in the opposite direction to give the extension extra strength.

I also put some wood aside that I can use to make custom bench dogs in the future if a specific need arises (such has tall dogs with pins for clamping turnings).

I begin be tracing a template I had made, with the back edge flush to the work piece I will be making the dog out of. I then cut it out on the bandsaw so that I am splitting the pencil lines, but I leave a 1/4” or so extra on the top of the bench dog.

The material I am cutting the dogs out of is just slightly thicker than needed, so I use my plane to trim the dog down until it fits the hole it will go in nicely.

Then if I slide the dog down and it is hitting the ledge inside the hole, I trim the back edge of the dog until it slides nicely past the ledge.

Then if the front of the dog will not fit down the hole I trim the front edge.

I will probably be putting a piece of leather on the front of each bench dog later. In that case you can skip this step by cutting the front of the dog thinner to accomodate the thickness of the leather.

Next place the dog in its specific hole and use a pencil with its bevel rested on the bench top to mark a line on the dog flush with the bench surface.

Then I used the bandsaw to cut the waste off, used my block plane to lightly chamfer the top edges of the dog, placed the dog in its hole, and planed the top edge flush with the bench top.

At this point the bench dog is usable, but it will not stay up without a spring mechanism. I decided to go with a wooden spring to apply pressure, but you could also buy bullet catches which would be more simple to install. The spring allows you to push the dog up to whatever height and hold it there so you can take your hands off. I used my mortising jig on the side of my table saw (but you could use a router) to make a slot along the edge of the dog. It is about 3/8” wide and maybe 3/16” deep. The groove only needs to be deep enough to allow your spring to be pressed in the groove and not stick proud of it.

In the picture above you can see two pencil marks, one about an 1/8” below the groove and one about 3/4” from the bottom edge in the groove. These are to indicate where I will chisel out a slope in the end of the groove.

Here you can see where I have chiseled out the slope which is where the spring will be glued.

I then had made up the spring material out of some hickory, though I am sure many other species would work fine. The springs where about a 1/16” thick and wide enough to fit in the groove. Then I put a light amount of glue on the slope in the groove and clamped the spring to the slope.

After the glue dries the bench dog is finished. The only thing you can still do is apply some finished if you like.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

4 comments so far

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2705 days

#1 posted 10-17-2011 02:48 PM

I like the way you produced the spring in the wood. I will be stealing that.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View woodzy's profile


418 posts in 2729 days

#2 posted 10-17-2011 03:30 PM

Lookin’ good !!
This is just what i needed, I’m adding a maple top to my bench and have to cut the dogs and dog holes. Can’t wait to see your tail vise vid.

-- Anthony

View exelectrician's profile


2328 posts in 2478 days

#3 posted 10-18-2011 02:36 AM

That is one sweet looking bench! Also I noticed a nicely tuned Baily #5? plane in the background did you hand carve the tote?

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 2724 days

#4 posted 10-18-2011 08:49 PM

Thanks. The plane is a #5 1/2 Record that was giving to me, but I did refinish the handles. I scraped off the old finish and just put a simple oil/wax finish on them.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

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