My Dog (Hole) Days are Over

Since I seem to have broken just about all of the “rules” in building my workbench, I plan on continuing that habit while drilling my dog holes.  Some people won’t be happy with what I am about to do; even the great Mr. Schwarz advises against it.  However, I am proceeding with reckless abandon.

Way back, when I was still in the design phase of this workbench, I had originally planned to drill the dog holes in the benchtop using a ¾” spiral up-cut bit and my plunge router.  I even bought the bit.  I had planed to use a collar and a template similar to a shelf pin hole drilling jig, just on a much larger scale.  I figured that using the router would be an easy way of ensuring that the holes were plumb and square to the benchtop.  Well, a few months ago my router went tits belly up and now only works when turned down to a low speed.  I plan on replacing it with a Triton router, but haven’t coughed up the dough and bought one yet.

So, I decided that I would drill the holes with my ¾-inch Wood Owl Auger bit.  The only problem with this, is keeping it perfectly plumb with the benchtop.  To get started, I made a jig that I wanted to do several things:

  • First, it had to keep the bit plumb.
  • Second, it needed a fence to register against the edge of the benchtop to place the dog holes a constant distance from the edge.
  • Third, it had to be able to drill both rows of dog holes at once.
  • And lastly, I wanted something that ensured even spacing of the holes.

Here’s what I came up with:

I built this jig to drill the holes in the benchtop.

I built this jig to drill the holes in the benchtop.

I was able to drill two holes, and then move the jig along.  By placing benchdogs through the jig and into the previous holes, I was able to get consistent spacing.

Because the jig housed about 2½ inches of the bit, I could not drill all the way through the benchtop while the auger was still in the jig.  I had to drill about three inches deep, remove the jig, and then use the hole in the benchtop to guide the bit for completing the hole.

I used the same jig to drill the holes in the tail vise chops.  These holes have to line up with the holes in the benchtop after all.

After drilling as deep as the jig would allow, I finished the hole without it.

After drilling as deep as the jig would allow, I finished the hole without it.

To drill the holes in the two opposing face vises, and the holes in the bench between the vises, I had to make a second jig.  The spacing and measurements on this one were completely different from the first, but the principle was exactly the same.

To drill the dog holes between the two face vises, I built a second jig.

To drill the dog holes between the two face vises, I built a second jig.

Here’s the bench after I finished all the drilling.

All 84 holes done.

All 84 holes done.

This left quite a mess to clean up.

This left quite a mess to clean up.

Now I need to chamfer the top of the holes.

Now I need to chamfer the top of the holes.

My original plan had not only been to start the dog holes with the router, but also to use it to chamfer the rim of the dog holes.  I already had a set of router bits that I bought in the Grizzly show room that included a chamfer bit.  However, it had a small-ish bearing and I thought it would make things simple to install a ¾-inch bearing on the end of the bit.

A set of Grizzly router bit. I changed the bearing on the chamfer bit.

A set of Grizzly router bit. I changed the bearing on the chamfer bit.

I bought the bearing from Grizzly and changed it out on the bit.  I mounted the bit in my half-dead router and tried to plunge it into a hole that I had drilled in a piece of scrap. The bearing wouldn’t easily fit into the hole.  When it did finally push in, it went in with a jerk and chewed up the edge of the hole.  So much for this plan.

Here you can see the bearing it came with (in the bag), and the new bearing (on the bit).

Here you can see the bearing it came with (in the bag), and the new bearing (on the bit).

I wondered why the bearing didn’t fit the hole so I got out my calipers.  The hole that was drilled by the Wood Owl Auger only measured 0.735 inch.  It should have been a true ¾ inch (0.750) bit.  I know the bits are made in Japan, but the company makes both metric and imperial bits, and mine is clearly marked ¾”.  Even if it is a mis-marked 19mm bit, it should measure 0.748.  I don’t get it.

The ¾" Wood Owl Auger bit drilled a hole that only measures 0.735 in.

The ¾” Wood Owl Auger bit drilled a hole that only measured 0.735 in.

The new bearing measured exactly ¾ inch.

The new bearing measured exactly ¾ inch.

Plan B became using my trim router with a ¼” chamfering bit.  This was easy to do, and frankly, I should have done this from the start.

A much smaller chamfer bit, mounted in my trim router.

A much smaller chamfer bit, mounted in my trim router.

Here you can see the first test hole on the left.  The ½” chamfer bit in the big plunge router really chewed up the edge.  The hole on the right was done with the ¼” bit in the trim router.  Much better.  The trim router created a clean and smooth chamfer.

The left hole was my big router and the right was the trim router.

The left hole was my big router and the right was the trim router.

Periodically thought this bench build, I have gone back a pulled out The Workbench Design book, by Christopher Schwarz for reference or when I had a question about some part of the build. I did this again when contemplating my dog holes.  In his book, he says he routed his chamfers  3/8″ deep.  Holy crap!!!!  That would leave craters all over the benchtop.  My chamfers are no more than 1/8″, maybe less.  I want them to help prevent tearout, but keep the look as un-obtrusive as possible.

I chamfered the top of all the dog holes.

I chamfered the top of all the dog holes.

I did all 84 holes. It didn't take long.

I did all 84 holes. It didn’t take long.

I used one of the dog hole jigs to guide the auger bit for the holes in the legs.  I simply marked the leg where I wanted to drill the hole and then placed the jig over the mark.  I clamped the jig in place and started the hole.  Once I had gone as deep as the jig would allow, I removed it and completed the hole without it.

I used the same jig to drill holes in the legs for the hold fasts.

I used the same jig to drill holes in the legs for the hold fasts.

I tested the fit, and found that the Gramercy holdfasts fit well.

The Gramercy Holdfast fit well.

The Gramercy Holdfast fit well.

However, the .0735 hole left by the auger was not big enough for the Veritas hold-down. This had to be fixed and I resolved to bore out all of the holes in the bench using a true ¾” drill bit.

The Veritas holdfast would not fit (the hole was too tight).

The Veritas holdfast would not fit (the hole was too tight).

I didn’t have any other ¾” drill bit so I found myself taking a trip to Home Depot to by this one.  $20, ouch.  I wish I had just ordered the ¾” Colt Twinland bit when I made my first drill bit order.

I had to buy a ¾ inch twist bit and re-do the holes.

I had to buy a ¾ inch twist bit and re-do the holes.

I passed the new twist drill bit though every hole in the bench.  The Veritas hold-downs worked great after that.

After passing the new bit through the holes, the Veritas hold-downs fit well.

After passing the new bit through the holes, the Veritas hold-downs fit well.

I also added a chamfer to the holes in the legs.

I also chamfered the holes in the legs.

I also chamfered the holes in the legs.

There’s not much more to do now.  I need to apply finish to the benchtop, make a bunch of bench dogs, and line the vises with leather.  Nearly there…

More soon.

 

– Jonathan White

 

p.s.  Apologies to Florence + The Machine for re-purposing the name of your awesome song for my post title.

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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15 Responses to My Dog (Hole) Days are Over

  1. Hello,

    this is very inspiring and a nice to read blog entry. You have one helluva lot of dog holes. Do you really need that many?

    Good luck!

    Regards,

    Woodworking Fangirl

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Fangirl,

      O.K., I’ll be the first to admit it, I don’t really “need” 84 dog holes. However… the thought of putting dog holes in the benchtop in a pattern that was not symmetrical, was bugging me. I have two tail vises so both needed a row of dogs. And, I’m using cabinet makers vises so the dog hole in the vise chop is already off-set from the main screw. For symmetry’s sake, I added the second row of holes to the two tail vises. These second “inner” rows of dog holes are also ideally located for using the Veritas hold downs. I know many people poo-poo having this many dog holes, but I’m O.K. with it. I gave this a lot of thought. The biggest indicator to me that I was happy with what I was doing, was that I didn’t hesitate to drill the holes. I’ve spent a year building this bench and putting holes in the benchtop is irreversible. I thought I might be a little hesitant to drill them, but found I was quite happy with it.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Jonathan

  2. Hi Jonathan,
    curious as to how many bench dogs you’ll be making. I’m guessing a set of four for each vise for a total of 16?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Ralph,

      You’re right, 16 is the minimum number of dogs that I will want. The over-the-top part of me wants 84, but I think I can successfully resist that urge.

      Take care,

      Jonathan

  3. Thanks for your comments. And yes, you should go for the full set of 84 dogs. After you’re done, reward yourself with a nice sandwich. Tuna.
    By the way, do you ever eat in your shop?
    I’ve met woodworkers who will happily even prepare food in their wood workshops, and also eat there. Some others order a pizza now and then to eat in their workshop. And then the pure woodworkers don’t allow any kind of food in their workshops.
    What kind of woodworker are you?

  4. Excellent post, Jonathan. Massively OCD. And great all-around write-up of your bench build. Inspirational. Aspirational, even.

    Disappointed to hear about the not-quite-3/4″-woodchipper bit; I’ll be sure to check mine before drilling any holes in lovingly jointed bench tops.

    Honestly, I really like the four vices on your bench; I like the idea of being able to work on something from anywhere, clamp something up on one end and if you happen to need to plane it left-handed (or opposite handed, whatever) you can move to the other side of the bench. The vice on the right-hand side will also be good for sawing – ripping small boards and such, a la Jim Tolpin.

    And if you ever participate in a synchronized woodworking competition, you’ve got the perfect setup for it!

    (“Hey, you. I know you! I know you!”)

    (Is anyone going to get that reference?)

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello Ethan,

      Thanks for all the nice feedback, I really appreciate it. I know the four vise thing is very unusual, but I really think it is going to work well.

      As for the synchronized woodworking, can I do that with a life vest on? And if I can’t woodwork? (This will only make sense if I got your reference right)

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  5. John Tomczyk says:

    Beautiful Bench! Well done. Put as many holes as you’re comfortable with. I have 28 in my bench and use them all with my hold downs and end vises.

  6. Cary Dunlap says:

    Hi Jonathon… that’s a beautiful workbench.

    I know I’m late to this article and forgive me if you’ve discussed this elsewhere, but I noticed you didn’t use a steel bushing in your drilling jig. I’m getting ready to drill my own dog holes and I wondered if you encountered any problems not using a hardened guide/bushing. Thanks!

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Cary,

      Thanks. I didn’t have any problems with the jig. Having a hardened sleeve is a great thing in a jig that is going to see years of use, or thousands of holes. This jig was used for this project and then discarded. One helpful bit of advice is to make the jig deep enough that there is very little wiggle room. Drill as deep as the jig will allow (varies depending upon the length of the drill bit you are using), and then remove the jig and finish the hole without it. If your hole is already deep enough, it will serve as the guid for the rest of the drilling. Good Luck!

      All the best,

      Jonathan

      • Cary Dunlap says:

        Many thanks, Jonathan. I’ll make a jig like the one in your post and go from there. I’ll let you know how it goes — unless I botch it up so bad that I can’t bear to talk about it. 🙂

  7. Marshall Murrell says:

    Looks like you used edge joined 2×8 s for your bench top. How many layers? If only one, did you put ply or anything under the top layer of boards? Beautiful job!

I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions.