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  • Bench dog holes...

    Let me apologize in advance for the simplistic question, but I thought it better to check before making an irreversible decision!

    Having gotten tired of not having a flat, square and level surface in my shop, I just bought a "workbench" from Sam's Club to use as an assembly table. I figured by time I bought the maple for the top and put the time into it, I could just have one in an hour. I'll add cabinets and drawers below some day when I have time. I've never really had a woodworker's vise before, so I knew I wanted to incorporate one as well as a bench dog setup. The Rockler vise I bought had a plastic vise dog which I replaced with wood after mounting the vise.

    What I don't know (since I've never even used a bench with bench dogs!) is whether or not I'm better off with a line of single 3/4" holes, or two lines of 3/4" holes. I see that some expensive for-purchase benches such as the SJÖBERGS have multiple rows of holes in different directions.

    For those of you that use these setups day in and day out, is a singe row sufficient in a setup like mine, or do two rows hold pieces more securely? Do two rows cause alignment issues (i.e..the corresponding holes have to be exactly in line with each other), or is that not an issue since the vise only has a single point of pressure anyway?

    I just don't want to drill a single row down the middle if two are better, but I don't want to drill the two if I only end up re-drilling a single, centered series of holes.

    Am I over-thinking this?? Though the top will certainly get abused over years, right now it's still shiny and I want to get it set up right!!!





  • #2
    Re: Bench dog holes...

    I believe if you look close at the expensive benches you will find that the ones with two rows of holes also have vices that have two holes to insert dogs that will line up with those bench holes. For your bench I would center one row in-line with your pop-up vice dog. On the topic of your vice dog you may want to reconsider the material you used. If it is white oak it may be strong enough but if you find that it breaks replace it with brass. Brass will not corrode, is plenty strong and will take the brunt of the damage if you strike it with a plane or other tool. Most quality bench dogs are made of brass. You may want to eventually drill three rows, the row in-line with the vice dog to hold straight wood and the two outbound rows to hold round or odd shaped objects.

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    • #3
      Re: Bench dog holes...

      Over time I have found that the more dog holes the better. They are invaluable for use with or without the vise. Mine are brass and I have a couple that you can adjust to hold material against other dogs on the table. I also get a lot of use out of the tamp down bench dog holddowns that eliminate the need for clamping and can be used anywhere on the table where clamps will not reach.

      Big G

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      • #4
        Re: Bench dog holes...

        Originally posted by wbrooks View Post
        On the topic of your vice dog you may want to reconsider the material you used. If it is white oak it may be strong enough but if you find that it breaks replace it with brass.
        Thanks for the post and feedback to both of you!

        Regarding the above, the vise came with a plastic block in there that was really surprisingly poor. I mean, I know that it wasn't an expensive vise, but the block wasn't even square and had so much play. I mean, over it's maybe 4" length it was off-square about 1/2". It looked like a kid whittled it!

        Anyway, I just stuck a piece of poplar with a neodymium magnet in there for the moment, but wasn't sure that it would hold up.

        I made my own dogs out if a red oak dowel and small squares of maple, but I just might get some Veritas bench puppies, as I also realized that I may or may not want to commit to a certain depth for the holes. Unfortunately after purchasing it, I realized the 3/4" dowel was more like 9/16" so there's gonna be some play in 3/4" holes!

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        • #5
          Re: Bench dog holes...

          I have been eyeballing that same bench at Sams Club. You cant really beat the price for a good bench with a solid maple top.
          Power Tool Blog - Power Tool Reviews

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          • #6
            Re: Bench dog holes...

            Originally posted by MarkSJohnson View Post
            Thanks for the post and feedback to both of you!

            Regarding the above, the vise came with a plastic block in there that was really surprisingly poor. I mean, I know that it wasn't an expensive vise, but the block wasn't even square and had so much play. I mean, over it's maybe 4" length it was off-square about 1/2". It looked like a kid whittled it!

            Anyway, I just stuck a piece of poplar with a neodymium magnet in there for the moment, but wasn't sure that it would hold up.

            I made my own dogs out if a red oak dowel and small squares of maple, but I just might get some Veritas bench puppies, as I also realized that I may or may not want to commit to a certain depth for the holes. Unfortunately after purchasing it, I realized the 3/4" dowel was more like 9/16" so there's gonna be some play in 3/4" holes!
            Lee Valley sells hard-wood dowel which is supposedly properly sized. Or you can purchase your own dowel making kits... I don't think they're too expensive... or you could just buy brass dogs.

            I'm in the same boat soon; will be redoing my outfeed table/construction bench top soon and putting in bench dog holes as well. Let us know how things work out -- are you planning on free-handing the holes, or can you actually remove the bench top and use a drill press? Or are you using a drill guide?

            Cheers,
            --Jeff

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            • #7
              Re: Bench dog holes...

              I have found that I'm frequently wanting bench dog holes that either line up with the vice's dog or 2 holes that bracket the vice's dog in order to gain better stability. I recently changed the vice chops on my work bench and went to some that are 1-1/2 to 2 in. thick. On the moving chop I put 3 holes. One centered on the line of holes in the bench top, the other two about as wide apart as I could reasonably make them. This way, I've the choice of using 2 or 3 points of contact to hold a work piece. I've even made a dog that fits into the 2 holes on the chop to provide a wide support. This wide dog also fits the dogs on the bench top so I can use it as a planning stop.

              I made this change partly because I wasn't satisfied with the sliding dog that came with the vice.

              By the way, that 3/4 in dowel that's about 9/16 may have been in the wrong bin. I recently picked up a 3/4 dowel at the BORG and it was only a little under size, about 11/16's or a bit more.
              Dick

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              • #8
                Re: Bench dog holes...

                By the way, that 3/4 in dowel that's about 9/16 may have been in the wrong bin
                Hmmmm, maybe... though the color-coding was correct. I think I'm going to end up with Veritas bench puppies as they're designed for "less thick" workbench tops.

                Speaking of which, I'm happy with the workbench for the price. I think it'll look a little less "industrial" with some maple drawers below. The only "caution" I'd throw out there is to make sure it'll work for your intended vise setup. Because of the steel runners under the workbench, an "end mount" such as what I did is the only real option. Also, the maple overhangs on one side, but not the other, so clamping will definitely be easier on that one side. I'd like to make a tool tray for it in that it will also widen the useable top area a bit, but I don't want to overhang future drawers nor lose too much clamping edge. I'm going to use it for awhile first and see if I want that modification. I DO wish the top were a little thicker, but hey, the price was right and as I wrote above, it was ready-to-go in an hour. I have too many other projects I need to get going on... some of which I have been putting off because I wanted a flat, square and level surface first!

                Everything I wrote about this previously purchased cart applies here as well. The bench went together extremely well. This is a company I would like to find reason to support! I'm actually considering two more of these for a massive miter saw workstation along a whole wall in my workshop!

                Regarding the drilling, the holes would be "too deep" towards the center of the top for my drill press, so I bought a Craftsman drill guide. It was at least as-well-reviewed as others I searched (if not better than most) and was cheaper than what I saw at Rockler and Woodcraft. Matter of fact, it looks to be the same model as the Rockler one.

                I'm stalling on drilling the holes until I'm positive as to how I want them and how deep they should be. I already might screw a 2x6 to the underside of the bench to allow for more hole depth if I need it...
                Last edited by MarkSJohnson; 07-25-2009, 12:13 PM.

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