What Are Bench Dogs?

Learn more about bench dogs, your new best friend in the shop.

Properly securing a piece before you work on it is one of the keys to successful woodworking. You can use portable clamps along the edge of a workbench, but sometimes they get in the way or don’t reach far enough to hold wide, flat workpieces. In those cases, a bench dog may be the solution.

Used in workshops for hundreds of years, bench dogs are pegs that fit in holes bored through the workbench top. They are aligned with the clamping direction of a bench vise and act as a stop against the clamping force. Manufactured woodworking workbenches typically come drilled with a line of holes for bench dogs. (You didn’t think they were simply there for dust to fall through, did you?)

If your bench doesn’t have holes, you can bore your own. The holes can be round or square; 3/4-in. round holes are typical and are easier to bore than square holes. Space the holes roughly 3 to 4 in. apart (no farther apart than the maximum opening on your bench vise).

Once your bench is set up with a vise and a row of holes, you can take advantage of the variety of clamping devices designed to fit into 3/4-in.-dia. bench dog holes. If you’re facing a benchtop-clamping challenge, a bench dog may be your new best friend.

Hold-downs (often called hold-fasts) hold the workpiece down against the workbench. A simple tap on the top of the Rockler hold-down clamp wedges it tight against the workpiece, and a tap on the side releases it.

The Veritas Surface Clamp (left/right) is a threaded clamp that increases the downward force.

A bench dog with a built-in threaded clamp, such as the Veritas Wonder Dog, can be used in place of a bench vise to hold work against a traditional bench dog.

The Veritas Bench Stud holds a workpiece and is completely out of the way (and out of sight). It features an expanding bolt that fits into a hole bored in the base of the workpiece.

You can secure a guide board or jig to a bench using one or more Veritas Bench Anchors. They feature an expanding bolt that fits in a bench dog hole.