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 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.
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.
Here’s the bench after I finished all the drilling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 tested the fit, and found that the Gramercy holdfasts 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.
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 passed the new twist drill bit though every hole in the bench. The Veritas hold-downs worked great after that.
I also added a chamfer to 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…
– Jonathan White
p.s. Apologies to Florence + The Machine for re-purposing the name of your awesome song for my post title.
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?
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,
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?
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.
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?
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?)
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,
I enjoy it when people get my humor. 😉
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.
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!
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,
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. 🙂
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!
Thanks! If you look at the first few posts in the series, you can see exactly how the benchtop was assembled. Here’s a link to the while series:
All the best,
How did you get the chamfers so nicely centred? Did you “plunge” the router in by hand, or actually run the bearing around the inside of the holew at the depth of cut you needed?
I initially tried to use a chamfer bit with a ¾” bearing to go in the ¾” dog hole. This really didn’t work and was going to chew up the bench. In the end, I used a smaller ¼” shank router bit, with a smaller bearing and just ran the bit around the inside of the dog hole. Simple, but it worked really well.
All the best,
Hey, I wanted to ask the chamfer bit you used was 45° ?
nice work btw
Yep, you got it. It was a 45° bit. Thanks for commenting.
All the best,