Introduction: $2 Pop Up Woodworking Bench Dogs

Picture of $2 Pop Up Woodworking Bench Dogs

Greetings Earthly Dwellers,

This project is inspired by Veritas Prairie Dogs, these are pop up brass workbench dogs. They are too expensive for me, so I tried to come up with ways to make my own version. I recalled when I was 14ish there was a door that was magnetic and clicked open and close with a spring latch. The motion is exactly like that of the Veritas Prairie Dogs. I decided to search for a more powerful version of this "clicking system."

For $2 I found a single push latch at my local big box store, it was located in the drawer/cabinet hardware section. I am going to show you how to make a pop up bench dog system with a latch, a piece of dowel, and some spacers. You can click the link to see the video of me doing this project.

Step 1: Prepare Your Bench Top

Picture of Prepare Your Bench Top

A dowel of any size can be used depending on functional choices. I recommend 1/2" or bigger diameter for most woodworking applications. Drill a dog hole in your bench top, enlarge the hole with a file and a smaller dowel wrapped in sand paper. The fit should be tight, there should be <0.5 mm of wiggle room. If it is too loose it may damage your dog hole over time.

Step 2: Locate the Latch Under the Bench Dog Hole

Picture of Locate the Latch Under the Bench Dog Hole

Find a place to attach your latch. I added spacers to align the latch with the bench dog hole. See the video for a demo of how I did the alignment. If the latch is too high the pop up latch system won't engage properly. If it is too low then you'd need a longer dowel. *TIP if you made your bench dogs the same size then when you take them out you don't have to worry about which dog goes in which hole.

Step 3: Tips to Make Your Pop Up Bench Dogs Super Easy and Efficient

Picture of Tips to Make Your Pop Up Bench Dogs Super Easy and Efficient

1. Build a model system to determine how and where to place the latch.

2. Add ~2 degree cut onto your bench dog; such that when you put force on the pop up bench dogs they have some "bite" to them.

Enjoy the project, check out the video if you want more detail.


JerryT41 (author)2017-01-31

That is flat out AWESOME!! The simple things are the most overlooked. Right now on my workbench, I use door latches for my 'dogs'. This is soooo much better!

johnzhu (author)JerryT412017-01-31

Thank you. Door latches? "No, NO, You want single push latches!" I am having a hard time with imagining how your coping with just door latches. This may be better.

JerryT41 (author)johnzhu2017-02-08

oops...wrong terminology. Should have said barrel bolts, screwed to the edge of work table. If I could figure out how to post a picture....sad! but, like these,

johnzhu (author)JerryT412017-02-08

Tremendous idea. Too bad you can't post a pic. sad.

StefanB3 (author)johnzhu2017-01-31

Are there magnets? I would put a flat head screw from the bottom to hold the dog down.

johnzhu (author)StefanB32017-01-31

There are magnet. I don't need them for a bench that's never tilted. I have a portable bench project coming out this month on Youtube that uses the magnetic feature. You can see a preview of it on my channel.

roxanne.benn1 (author)2017-02-05

Very nice. I am building a new bench I will use this thank You

johnzhu (author)roxanne.benn12017-02-06

Great to hear.

wlahti (author)2017-01-31

Overly complicated. I simply drilled 3/4-inch holes partially through the benchtop and cut some dowels to various lengths to accommodate different thicknesses of material to clamp. A flat benchtop is achieved by just removing the dowels.

ronphillips (author)wlahti2017-02-02

It seems like small parts would fall into the holes, unless you keep flush-fit dummy pegs in there. Then it seems like you would have find a way to get the flush pegs out.

johnzhu (author)wlahti2017-01-31

I can't tell that you've done what you've described or you'd do what you've described. But it sounds like you've got the hole thing worked out. Thanks for you input.

spatial guy (author)2017-01-31

Your dog is a lot smarter than my dog! I think they take after their owners lol
Excellent idea that will be making an appearance in my workshop tomorrow this week. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?! Thanks, Michael

johnzhu (author)spatial guy2017-01-31

Great to hear; I think you're going to like the smarty dogs.

jeremy.s.king.1 (author)2017-01-31

Now that's ingenuity! I've been trying to figure out how to integrate bench dogs into my bench, but I didn't want things falling through the holes. This is perfect. WTG!!

johnzhu (author)jeremy.s.king.12017-01-31

That was one of the reason that it took me a few year to put in bench dogs. Since I do more than just woodworking I have to worry about things falling through. Glad this helped.

jeremy.s.king.1 (author)johnzhu2017-01-31

One of the downsides of being a jack of all trades. :)

r33tc0w (author)2017-01-29


johnzhu (author)r33tc0w2017-01-31

Thank you.

mortenlc (author)2017-01-29

clever! thanks.

johnzhu (author)mortenlc2017-01-31

You're welcome.

DennisO22 (author)2017-01-31

Very neat.

johnzhu (author)DennisO222017-01-31

Thank you.

thatsallthereis (author)2017-01-31

Simple, effective, and genius!

Thank you for sharing!

johnzhu (author)thatsallthereis2017-01-31

Thank you.

DaDawei (author)2017-01-30

What would you think of using brass rods instead of dowels for the dogs? It's likely a better fit could be found, so that sanding wouldn't be necessary to increase the hole size. Brass would be a nice look.

johnzhu (author)DaDawei2017-01-30

I am sure that would be fine. You can looked up "veritas prairie dogs" to see a brass version. Though brass is soft, it is still harder than wood and can do more damage to tools.

DaDawei (author)2017-01-30

Brilliant and inspirational. Thanks for this. I'm sure I can find other uses for that hardware now that you have shown me this, but first I'm building my work bench and these are definitely going into it.

johnzhu (author)DaDawei2017-01-30

You're welcome. There are definitely many more uses! I am finishing a portable workbench with free plans so it is something you might be interested in. Just check my youtube channel sometimes in 2/2017; I plan to put the free plans on Instructables.

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