How to Make Woodworking Bench Dogs

In the world of woodworking, having the right tools is crucial for achieving precision and efficiency in every project. One such tool that every woodworker should have in their arsenal is a set of bench dogs. These simple yet indispensable devices are designed to secure your workpiece firmly in place on your workbench, allowing you to work confidently without worrying about slippage or instability.

Bench dogs serve multiple purposes that greatly benefit woodworkers of all skill levels. Not only do they prevent pieces from moving while being worked on, but they also provide a sturdy support for clamping down larger materials. With bench dogs, you can focus your energy on crafting with precision while ensuring safety and stability throughout the process.

When it comes to making bench dogs, there are various types and materials that you can choose from depending on your specific needs and preferences. Common types include round bench dogs, square bench dogs, and square bench dogs with notches. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, which we will explore further in this article. Additionally, the choice of material – whether it be hardwood, plywood, or even brass – will impact the durability and functionality of your bench dogs.

Whether you’re a professional furniture maker or just starting out as a woodworking enthusiast, learning how to make your own woodworking bench dogs can be a rewarding experience. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on crafting your own sturdy bench dogs using common tools and materials readily available in most workshops.

Additionally, we’ll share tips and tricks to elevate the quality of your creations and discuss practical applications for these versatile tools.

Stay tuned as we delve into the fascinating world of woodworking bench dogs and discover how they can revolutionize your woodworking experience.

Types of Woodworking Bench Dogs

When it comes to woodworking bench dogs, there are a few different types to choose from. The most common types include round, square, and square with notches. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to understand their characteristics before deciding which one to use for your projects.

Round bench dogs are the simplest and most versatile type. They are typically made from dowels or cylindrical pieces of wood with a diameter that fits snugly into the dog holes on your workbench. Round bench dogs provide stability and support for your workpiece while allowing easy adjustment and positioning.

Square bench dogs, on the other hand, have a flat surface that extends above the workbench. This design provides greater contact area with the workpiece, increasing stability and preventing rotation during tasks such as planing or chiseling. Square bench dogs can be used in conjunction with wooden jaw vises or holdfasts for even more secure clamping.

Another variation is the square bench dog with notches or grooves. These notches allow you to clamp various shapes and sizes of workpieces securely. They also enable you to hold small parts vertically by simply inserting them into the notches.

It is worth noting that while wooden bench dogs are popular due to their affordability and ease of creation, there are also options made from other materials such as brass or plywood. Brass bench dogs offer superior durability and resistance to wear but may be costlier than wooden ones. Plywood bench dogs can be a budget-friendly alternative if you have access to scraps or leftover pieces.

In summary, when selecting the type of woodworking bench dog best suited for your needs, consider factors such as stability requirements, versatility, and budget constraints. Assessing your specific woodworking tasks will help determine whether round, square, or square with notches will give you the greatest benefit for your projects.

Tools and Materials Needed

In order to make woodworking bench dogs, there are several essential tools that you will need. These tools will help you shape and secure the bench dogs for optimal performance in your woodworking projects. Here is a list of the key tools required for making bench dogs:

  1. Saw: A saw is necessary for cutting the wood to the desired length and shape. A fine-toothed handsaw or a circular saw with a carbide-tipped blade can be used.
  2. Chisel: Chisels are used for shaping and smoothing out the wood. It is recommended to have a set of chisels with different sizes to accommodate various dimensions.
  3. Drill Press: A drill press is preferred over hand drills for accuracy and stability when drilling holes in the bench dogs. This tool ensures straight and precise holes, which are crucial for their functionality.
  4. Clamps: Clamps are necessary for securing the workpiece while working on it. They provide stability during cutting, drilling, or shaping processes.
  5. Marking Tools: You will need marking tools such as a pencil or marking gauge to indicate measurements on the wood accurately. This ensures precision during the construction process.

When it comes to materials, there are several options depending on personal preference and project requirements:

  1. Hardwood: Hardwoods like maple, oak, or cherry provide durability and strength to bench dogs, making them suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
  2. Plywood: Plywood can be a cost-effective alternative to hardwoods while still providing decent strength and stability.

3 Brass: For those looking for added durability and resistance against wear and tear, brass can be used as an alternative material for constructing bench dogs.

It is important to select the appropriate tools and materials based on your individual preferences and project requirements. By choosing quality tools and materials, you can ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your bench dogs in your woodworking endeavors.

Step-by-Step Guide

Preparing the Materials

Before starting the process of making your woodworking bench dogs, it is important to gather all the necessary materials and ensure they are properly prepared.

  1. Measure and Cut: Begin by measuring and marking the length you want for your bench dogs on the piece of wood that will be used. Use a saw to carefully cut the wood according to these measurements.
  2. Shaping the Dogs: Next, determine the shape of your bench dogs based on your preferences and woodworking needs. For example, if you want round bench dogs, you can use a lathe or sandpaper to shape the edges into smooth curves. If you prefer square bench dogs, use a chisel to create clean, straight edges.
  3. Creating Notches (Optional): If you decide to make square bench dogs with notches, mark the areas where you want the notches to be located. Then, carefully use a chisel or a router with a straight bit to remove material from these marked areas. This will create notches that can hold your workpiece securely during woodworking tasks.
Foundations Of Woodworking

Assembly and Finishing

Once your materials are prepared, it’s time to assemble and finish your woodworking bench dogs.

  1. Drilling Holes: Start by determining where you want the holes to be drilled in your bench dogs-usually at regular intervals along their length. Measure and mark these locations on each dog using a pencil or awl.
  2. Drill Press: Set up your drill press with an appropriate drill bit based on the diameter desired for your dog holes. Ensure that the drill press is securely clamped or anchored before starting drilling.
  3. Drilling Dog Holes: Carefully position each bench dog under the drill press one at a time and align it with the marked hole locations. With steady pressure, slowly lower the drill bit into each location until you have achieved the desired depth for your dog holes.
  4. Sanding and Smoothing: Once the dog holes are drilled, sand and smooth the entire surface of each bench dog using sandpaper or a sander. This will remove any rough edges or splinters and allow for a more comfortable grip.
  5. Finishing Touches: Optionally, you can apply a finish to your bench dogs to protect them from wear and tear. Consider using oils, varnishes, or even wax depending on your preferences and the intended use of the bench dogs. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying times.
  6. Final Inspection: Before using your newly created bench dogs, thoroughly inspect them to ensure they are free of any flaws or imperfections that may affect their function or safety.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to create your own woodworking bench dogs that are tailored to your specific needs and preferences. Remember to prioritize safety throughout the process by wearing appropriate protective gear and using tools correctly and responsibly.

Tips and Tricks

Pro Tips for Enhancing Bench Dog Quality and Durability

  • Use hardwood materials: Opt for sturdier woods like oak, maple, or beech for increased durability and longevity of bench dogs.
  • Consider brass inserts: Incorporate brass inserts into the design to minimize wear and tear on the holes in your workbench top.
  • Add non-slip pads: Attach self-adhesive rubber or cork pads to the bottom of bench dogs to prevent them from sliding or scratching surfaces.
  • Create different heights: Make multiple sets of bench dogs at varying heights to accommodate different project needs and thicknesses of materials.
  • Install springs: For added convenience, install small springs inside the bench dog holes, allowing for easier insertion and removal of the dogs.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Tight-fitting holes: If your bench dog holes are too tight for smooth insertion, carefully enlarge them using a chisel or drill with a slightly larger bit to ensure a proper fit.
  • Slippage during use: To prevent bench dogs from slipping while you work, apply a thin coat of beeswax or sandpaper grit on their surfaces to increase friction and grip.
  • Inconsistent height adjustment: If your square bench dogs tend to slip when adjusted, add small notches or ridges along one side using a chisel or file to provide better locking points.

Alternative Approaches and Customizations

  • Elongated notches: Customize square bench dogs by adding elongated notches on each side instead of standard square notches. This modification allows for greater flexibility in clamping irregularly shaped workpieces.
  • Varying shapes: Experiment with different shapes like octagonal or hexagonal bench dogs to achieve better grip and stability, especially when working on curved or odd-shaped projects.
  • Replaceable pads: Instead of using traditional solid bench dogs, consider making removable wooden pads that can be easily swapped out based on project needs or to accommodate delicate materials.

By following these tips and tricks, you can elevate the functionality and versatility of your homemade woodworking bench dogs. Remember to adapt these suggestions according to your own preferences and woodworking projects, as there is always room for customization in this craft.

Finishing and Refining

Guide on Sanding and Smoothing Bench Dogs

Once the woodworking bench dogs are constructed, it is crucial to ensure that they are properly finished and refined. This process involves sanding and smoothing the surface of the bench dogs to achieve a professional-looking finish.

To begin, gather a variety of sandpaper grits ranging from coarse to fine. Start with a lower grit (around 80 or 100) to remove any rough surfaces or imperfections on the bench dogs. Use long, smooth strokes in the direction of the wood grain to achieve an even finish. As you progress, gradually switch to higher grit sandpaper (such as 180 or 220) for a smoother surface.

Choosing the Right Finish

After sanding, it is important to choose an appropriate finish for your bench dogs. The finish not only enhances the wood’s appearance but also provides protection against moisture and wear.

There are various options available for bench dog finishes, including oils, varnishes, waxes, and lacquers. Natural oils such as linseed oil or tung oil penetrate into the wood fibers, providing deep nourishment and highlighting the natural characteristics of the wood. Varnishes offer a more durable finish by forming a protective coating on top of the wood. Waxes provide a smooth, soft-touch finish while lacquers create a glossy appearance.

Consider your project requirements when selecting a finish – for outdoor use or areas prone to moisture, opt for a waterproof varnish; for workbenches requiring durability and resistance against heavy-duty tasks, consider using lacquer.

Achieving a Professional-Looking Finish

To achieve a professional-looking finish on your bench dogs, follow these steps:

  1. Apply the chosen finish using appropriate brushes or lint-free cloths.
  2. Ensure even coverage by spreading thin coats of finish in smooth strokes.
  3. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.
  4. Sand lightly between coats with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any imperfections or dust particles.
  5. Repeat the process until you achieve the desired level of finish.

Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions specific to your chosen finish for the best results. Once your bench dogs are properly finished, they will not only look aesthetically pleasing but also have increased resistance to moisture and wear, extending their lifespan in the woodworking shop.

Used Woodworking Tools Boston

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance and care are crucial to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your woodworking bench dogs. By following a few simple steps, you can keep your bench dogs in excellent condition for years to come.

  1. Periodic Inspections: Regularly inspect your bench dogs for any signs of wear or damage. Check for cracks, splintering, or loose fittings. It is important to identify any issues early on to prevent further damage and maintain the safety of your woodworking projects.
  2. Cleaning: Remove dirt, dust, and debris from your bench dogs after each use. You can use a brush or a damp cloth to wipe them clean. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can potentially damage the wood or other materials of your bench dogs.
  3. Lubrication: Lubricate the moving parts of your bench dogs to ensure smooth operation. Apply a thin layer of lubricant (such as wax or oil) to the threads or mechanisms that require movement. This will help reduce friction and prevent them from becoming stiff over time.
  4. Storing: When not in use, store your bench dogs in a dry area, away from direct sunlight or moisture. Consider using a protective case or cover to shield them from any potential damage.

By incorporating these maintenance practices into your routine, you can extend the lifespan of your bench dogs and continue enjoying their benefits in your woodworking projects.

Practical Applications

Bench dogs are versatile tools that can be used in various woodworking projects to improve accuracy, stability, and safety. Their applications are vast, making them indispensable for both amateur woodworkers and professionals alike. By understanding how to effectively use bench dogs, woodworkers can enhance their overall woodworking experience.

One practical application of bench dogs is in holding workpieces securely in place during sawing or planing tasks. The round bench dogs are particularly useful for this purpose as they can be easily inserted into holes on the workbench surface. These bench dogs hold the workpiece firmly and prevent it from moving or slipping while being worked on. This increases precision and reduces the risk of accidents.

Another practical application of bench dogs is their use as a stop block during repetitive woodworking tasks. By installing square or square with notches bench dogs at specific distances from the edge of the workbench, woodworkers can ensure consistent and accurate vertical cuts across multiple pieces of material. This is especially helpful when working on projects that require multiple identical pieces.

In addition to holding workpieces and acting as stop blocks, bench dogs can also be used as support for large panels or boards. By inserting multiple round or square bench dogs along the length or width of a panel, woodworkers create a raised surface that allows them to easily access all sides of the panel without having to lift it off the workbench entirely. This improves efficiency and convenience when working with larger pieces.

TypePractical Application
RoundHolding workpieces securely during sawing or planing tasks
SquareActing as stop blocks for consistent and accurate vertical cuts
Square with notchesActing as stop blocks for repetitive tasks requiring specific measurements

By understanding the practical applications of bench dogs, woodworkers can effectively utilize these tools to improve the accuracy, stability, and safety of their woodworking tasks. Learning how to properly use bench dogs in various scenarios allows woodworkers to achieve professional results and enhances their overall productivity.


In conclusion, bench dogs are an essential tool for any woodworking enthusiast. Throughout this article, we have explored the different types of bench dogs and the materials used to make them. We have also provided a step-by-step guide on how to create your own bench dogs, emphasizing safety precautions along the way.

By making your own bench dogs, you have the opportunity to customize them to meet your individual preferences and project requirements. Additionally, we shared various tips and tricks to enhance the quality and durability of your bench dogs and troubleshoot common issues that may arise during the process.

Not only do bench dogs improve the accuracy and stability of woodworking tasks, but they also contribute to overall safety. Their practical applications extend beyond just holding workpieces in place; they can be utilized in a multitude of woodworking projects. With their affordability and versatility, there is no reason not to start making your own bench dogs.

So why wait? Get creative and start making your own bench dogs today. They will undoubtedly enhance your woodworking experience by providing a reliable support system for all your projects. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different designs and materials until you find the perfect fit for your needs. Happy woodworking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best wood for bench dogs?

The best wood for bench dogs is typically hardwood lumber that is strong and durable. Common options include beech, oak, maple, or even exotic woods like ebony. Hardwoods are preferable because they can withstand the pressure and friction exerted during woodworking tasks without easily getting damaged or compressed.

The specific choice of wood may also depend on personal preference, availability, and budget. Some woodworkers prefer to use dowels made from steel or brass for added strength and durability.

What size holes for bench dogs?

The size of holes for bench dogs will vary depending on the intended use and personal preference. However, a common standard size for bench dog holes is around 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter.

This size provides a suitable balance between grip strength and flexibility when inserting bench dogs into the holes while ensuring compatibility with various types of accessories such as holdfasts or other workholding devices. Ultimately, it may be beneficial to have multiple sizes of bench dog holes in your workbench to accommodate different requirements.

How thick should a bench be for bench dogs?

The thickness of a workbench for bench dogs depends on several factors such as the intended use, type of woodworking tasks performed, and personal preferences. Generally speaking, a thicker workbench tends to provide better stability and less vibration during heavy-duty tasks. A thickness of at least 2 inches is often recommended for workbenches that utilize bench dogs effectively.

Thicker workbench tops provide sufficient support for securely holding materials in place using bench dogs while minimizing any potential wobbling or bouncing that could affect precision work. However, it is important to strike a balance between thickness and portability since excessively thick workbenches might become cumbersome if you frequently need to move them around your workshop space.

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