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Forum topic by Clarence posted 12-29-2009 10:52 PM 1729 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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125 posts in 3281 days

12-29-2009 10:52 PM

Just read some great discussion of bench dog holes, but I have some questions that are more fundamental than how to drill them, and I didn’t want to hijack Botietruck’s thread.

I too am building a bench with a two-inch maple top. Problem is, old though I am, I’ve never seen an actual woodworker’s bench——one of my many areas of woodworking ignorance. I know the purpose of dogs on the bench, but little else. Is there some standardized or traditional number and/or pattern for the top, or does each person devise their own plan?

Also, if you drill your holes through the table, what holds them up when you use them? When not in use do they stay in the holes, or do you keep them in a drawer until you need them.

Some of the guys mentioned chamfering the tops of the holes; I’m guessing this is to allow you to grasp the top of the dog?

Please clarify.

-- Getting old is a good thing, but being old kinda stinks.

3 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8541 posts in 3823 days

#1 posted 12-29-2009 11:05 PM

chamfer the top of the holes is not really to grab the dogs, as the chamfer is very light and doesnt really give much room for your fingers to go in. the chamfering is done to ease the sharp edges of the holes, so that your work pieces won’t snag on those sharp edges, or your fingers won’t catch on them and get a cut.

most bench dogs have some flexible spring that keeps them in the holes and holding them from falling down through it. if you plan your workbench properly, you could leave the bench dogs in the holes while not in use by just pushing them all the way down (making the top of the dog flush with the workbench top). this means you have to leave some clearance under your workbench top for the dog to ‘park’, so if you’re building a set of drawer cabinets underneath the bench – leave some clearance for the dogs.

spacing the dogs is not up to to a personal choice – it has to do with the opening of the vise you use on the bench. you really want to be able to clamp any length piece between the dogs, which means the spacing has to acoommodate that. if your end vice has a 7” opening – than your dogs theoretically should be spaced less than 7” apart – not more. in practice though you’d want to keep them close together – about 3” apart. so that you won’t have to open your vise all the way and close it all the way when working on smaller/larger parts.

I highly recommend getting some workbenches books, especially since you claim you’ve never actually seen a ww workbench before. a good read is Chris Schwartz “Workbenches”, and also Landis’s “the workbench book”

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 4040 days

#2 posted 12-29-2009 11:17 PM

You might try this book: Workbenches by Christopher Schwarz

It is pretty much the definitive work.

-- He said wood...

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3375 days

#3 posted 12-30-2009 04:32 AM

The only requirement that I’m aware of for dog hole spacing is that they be less than the vise jaw opening. Having said that, my dog holes are spaced 6-1/2” for my twin-screw end vise. I also put the first row of holes within a few inches of the end of the bench. For my front vise, I put the first row of holes right in the apron stock.
The round Veritas dogs are great to me. One advantage is that I do mostly smaller work so I work with 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 stock a lot. When I plane on the bench the dogs will go as low as I need without sticking up above the stock. Another reason I have them is I use the same 3/4 round holes for holdfasts, which I probably actually use the most. Bench dogs in general can be a pain if you don’t have easy access under your bench to push them up. You can screw a little block to then end of a couple of inches of 3/4 dowel for quick stops that drop in from the top.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

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