Today I did a little work on my bench. I have wanted to add some dog holes for a while and I just needed to commit to a plan before I just went off and drilled ¾ inch holes in my bench and vise. I decided to drill holes about 10 in wide on center and every 6 inches in depth. This gives me a large area to clamp pieces with while working on them without using clamps. FINALLY!! Again, I did this with some basic tools. I first started by measuring out the starting points on my vise and drawing out two parallel lines on my bench. Once the lines were established I used a set of dividers set to 6 inches to mark out the center of each hole. Then the fun part, I used a bit and brace to hand drill ¾ inch holes completely through both the vise and the bench. Luckily my bench is only 3 inches thick, but the vise is about 6 inches thick. Either way by hand you will work up a sweat.
Once all the holes were drilled I moved onto making my own dogs for holding my work pieces. You can buy some real nice dogs from many great stores but I like to make my own. A couple reasons for this is I like wood dogs and they are a lot cheaper to make out of a red oak dowel than buying metal ones from a manufacturer.
I cut the dogs so that they are two inches longer than my bench or vise is deep. The two for the bench are five inches long and the two for the vise are eight inches long. This way I can grab them and move them from either the top or the bottom of the bench. If I want to pull them out I can use my mallet to make them flush on one end giving me two inches to hold onto to pull them out.
The tops of the bench dogs were made by first drawing a line on one end dividing the dowel in half while paying very close attention to grain direction. You must make sure that the grain runs perpendicular to the downward cut you will be making. This ensures that when the dog is under pressure it will not snap the top right off. It is the same principle as when a pro baseball player hits a ball. If they do not have the grain facing the correct direction on the bat they can snap it every time because the wood is much weaker in that direction. Once the top line is drawn I marked down the dowel ¾ of and inch and marked that around the circumference of the piece. I then used a tenon saw to cut on that line making sure not to cut past the vertical lines. Once the bottoms are cut I set the dog upright and chopped down carefully with a 1-inch chisel getting ride of the waste. For cleanup I used a file and a little sand paper to smooth over the edges.
This project was simple and fun. I know that I will be using the bench dogs a lot in many of my future projects. If you don’t have bench dogs in your bench you might want to think about adding some. There are many uses for the holes from storing small tools during projects, adding jigs, and using holdfasts.