I like making my own bench top woodworking tools, especially when they work well and can save me money in the process. The simple tool, the bench dog, has been around for ages in the woodworking community and for good reason… it’s essential for holding wood parts while they are being fashioned into something useful.

My workbench is small and I decided early on that I would use round dogs at 5/8″ in diameter. Searching for that size dog doesn’t reveal much as bench dogs are usually 3/4″ in diameter. Grizzly sells 5/8″ dogs but for my purposes they wouldn’t work. I could have used 3/4″ holes but couldn’t justify the cost of a couple of dogs. I have seen them as high as $140 for a set of four. You’ve got to be kidding… I could purchase a nice router for that amount!

Mentioned earlier, I chose to use 5/8″ bench dogs and also for ease of bench hole drilling, I decided round would be the way to go. This style of dog could easily made as 3/4″ round dogs and at any length if desired.

I started out by using 5/8″ oak dowels, cut to 2.125″ deep. My bench is only 1.5″ thick and figured this length would work for my bench top.

Next I cut a 5 degree sloped face 1″ down from the top of the dog.

Shop Made Bench Dog
Securely clamped and square to the table I cut a 3/16″ slot down the back side of the dog, about 1/16″ deep. That slot is a recess for the height retaining spring shown below.

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A 9/64″ hole drilled 1/4″ from the bottom of the dog, just shy of drilling all the way through.

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Next I found I had saved some spring 5/32″ wide spring steel cannibalized from old auto windshield wipers (I save everything I think that will be useful in the future). Cut and shaped into an “N” that is epoxied into the hole at the bottom which will hold the dog in the bench hole.

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I glued leather onto the dog faces to aid in holding stock in place. I soon realized that I needed to cut off the top of the “N” so the top of the dogs don’t have any obstructions. In case that I happen to push a dog into the bench hole too far I made a tool to pull the dog back out. A hole was drilled in the top of the dog for that purpose.

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These bench dogs work perfect for me as I quite often work on small pieces of stock and these dogs will hold very thin stock perfectly.

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If you need bench dogs for your shop, and have a spare hour or so this is the way to go, plus save yourself some money at the same time.

Filed under: Bench Top Woodworking Tools