Workbench Build #5: Square or round? Round or Square? Doggone it, somebody throw me a bone!!!

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Blog entry by Mark Kornell posted 127 days ago 1041 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Almost the whole top Part 5 of Workbench Build series Part 6: Mmmm, bacon »

I knew I’d come to this point – and I don’t mean throwing out pithy blog entry titles. I’d have to decide what kind of dog holes I want.

Jameel Abraham (Mr. Benchcrafted) feels pretty strongly that square dogs are the only way. Chris Schwarz used to be agnostic, but now has a strong preference for round dogs.

Lon Schleining suggests using both. Scott Landis doesn’t really state a preference in his book, but most of the benches he shows have square holes.

Interestingly, Roubou’s plate 11 bench doesn’t have a vise, and therefore no dog holes. It does, however, have round holes for holdfasts. And a square planing stop.

So, naturally, I went with square holes.

A week ago, I milled the dog board. Got a piece of jatoba nice and straight, and cut off a chunk for where the wagon block will slide. That chunk will become the wagon block.

Today I built the jig to make the dog holes. Pretty basic stuff:

I built it square, then cut a spacer with a 2° taper to slant the dogs. The spacer was from a 6-squared 2×10:

Fastened the spacer on the template at my mark:

Next step was to cut a 3/8” slice off the edge of the dog boards. First, drill some holes for alignment when gluing back together:

I’d already laid out where the dog holes are going, so I made sure the alignment holes wouldn’t get in the way. (The pencil lines are pretty faint in the pic.) And they are placed toward the bottom of the board. If the top ever gets flattened down far enough to expose the dowels, it is time for a new bench.

Then off to the bandsaw, small chunk first.

Good excuse to tune the bandsaw. The result is nice:

Then comes the long board:

And about 2 feet in, I notice the fence has slipped due to me putting a lot of lateral pressure on the board to keep it squared to the fence. Hasn’t slipped much, but enough that I consider re-purposing the board for firewood.

I look in my lumber stash and find some 9/4 jatoba. Would be perfect, except it has over a 1/2” bow. Well, maybe I can salvage this board, just need to make it a bit thinner.

Tighten up the fence lock, set some featherboards to apply lateral pressure. And make the cut. Works out OK, except the one straight board is now two pieces of bacon. Serious reaction wood, I’m kind of glad I didn’t use my tablesaw to do the cut. And they are bacon-y enough they may not even clamp flat. (I tried.)

And considering the firewood option again, I decide to see if I can make it work before abandoning the piece. That’s the great thing about woodworking – if you screw up, you can always start a fire.

I try using the router to do the first dog hole:

Works OK, but is pretty hard on the router. I waste away most of the holes using my table saw and the tapered spacer.

Routing the rest of each hole is much easier.

I got about halfway through the board and called it a day. The interesting part will be trying to glue the thing back together.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

6 comments so far

View BigRedKnothead's profile


4686 posts in 608 days

#1 posted 127 days ago

I can’t believe you went with square holes. Your so gonna regret it….lol. I can see tiny advantages to each, but either will hold your work.

Looking good man.

-- Red -- "That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." W. Whitman

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

473 posts in 1157 days

#2 posted 127 days ago

I may yet change my mind :-)

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View JayT's profile


2174 posts in 837 days

#3 posted 127 days ago

Now you know why round holes. Glue up the top flat and square and then make the dog holes later. No bacon required.

Mmmmmm, bacon! I shouldn’t have posted around breakfast time.

We could start a great round vs. square debate. See if we can get to the vitriol of the SawStop threads. :-)

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View john2005's profile


919 posts in 804 days

#4 posted 126 days ago

Lookin good Mark.

And I’ll enter any debate where I get bacon. Just sayin.

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View BubbaIBA's profile


200 posts in 1002 days

#5 posted 126 days ago

I’ve done both. My current bench has square, the next will have round. The next bench will only have dog holes that are associated with the tail vise running about half way up the bench, the ones near the front vise are never used….holdfast holes are another story and also the reason for round. Square are a PITA to install, not as functional, nor as versatile, for me it’s a no-brainer. YMMV

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

473 posts in 1157 days

#6 posted 126 days ago

In truth, the reason I went for square dogs boils down to aesthetics. I simply like the look better.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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