Picture of Making bench dogs for less than 1$
You just finished building your brand new workbench and now it is time to look for some accessories. Since you have drilled dozens of 3/4" bench dog holes in your workbench, you say to yourself, I should get at least ten of these. This is where my instructable will save you lots of money!

Bench dogs, made of brass are sold for about 15$ each! Who need brass bench dogs? Wood made bench dogs can handle much more force you will ever be able to apply on it. So here is a short instructable on how to build your own bench dogs for almost nothing.
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Step 1: Tools and material

Picture of Tools and material
Here are the tools and material you need for this project. Of course, if you are used to woodworking, you will find several ways to do the same project. This list is for the beginner woodworker.

  • 3/4" diameter, 4" long hardwood dowel
  • A street sweeper bristle 
  • Glue gun glue stick (optional)
  • Hand saw
  • Hand plane
  • Cutters
  • Drill with 3/32" cutting bit
  • Glue gun (optional)
You can find hardwood dowel in any hardware store for less than 1$ per foot. You need a 4" piece to make this project.

About street sweeper bristles. Hopefully, you live in a town where the street sweeper uses brushes made from steel wires. You will find lost brush wires by looking on the side of the road. 

The glue gun is optional. You can use any kind of glue to make this project. The glue is used only to maintain the metal wire in place when the bench dog is not used.

Step 2: Cut the wood dowel to 4"

Picture of Cut the wood dowel to 4
Cut a 4" piece of wood dowel using your handsaw. On this picture you can see a bench dog I bought for about 15.00$. After this project I'll not need it anymore. It will probably end up on Ebay!

Step 3: Plane one side of the wood dowel

Picture of Plane one side of the wood dowel
Use your hand plane to flatten on side of the wood dowel.

Fish tape is a great alternative to street sweeper tines, both about the same gauge and thickness of spring steel. Except a fish tape costs a fraction of a portion of a street sweeper brush replacement. And is readily available at places besides your local curb.

Source: Used to drive and maintain a street sweeper, own and use a fish tape.

pchretien (author)  Scooterhayes1 month ago

Hey thanks for your comment.

You are right, street sweeper are expensive but I don't buy them, I find these on the side of the street after the street sweeper passed! Free stuff is the best! :)

bllwdcrvr5 months ago

Great idea and I have an alternative idea for the spring part, why wouldn't a common bobby pin work to in the same way to act as a spring? maybe clipped 3/4 way down the one side of the bobby pin and either glued in place so it would fit in an impression on the side of the bench dog- or just bent out at 90degrees and glued back in-to give the spring effect. still a great idea, A whack to my head (why didn't I think of this) its a very simple concept- Keep up the good work!!

pchretien (author)  bllwdcrvr5 months ago

Thank you for your comment! Yep, a bobby pin or whatever piece of junk metal that can act as a spring will save you a ton of money! :)

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you want spring steel, so if you have a dead garden leaf rake with the springy tines they are what you want. People throw them out all the time. A piece of electricians metal snake will work as well

go here for a picture

I never paid this kind of cash for even and American Made rake, but it is for illustration.

Oh yeah you can also Make a Kalimba with these tines (thumb piano).

give it a whirls, this is a cool project. Then use the bench to make a box that becomes your Kalimba.

here is a Kalimba, a very fine one indeed.

pchretien (author)  DELETED_hoffmanjoe3 years ago
Thanks for the comment! It depends on the material ... What's make bristles perfect for this project is that it is made of hardened steel. You want the wire to spring back to its original position when you pull the bench dog out of the hole.
Instead of street sweeper bristles try using the bristles from an old metal rake.
Perfect! I have old rakes, but street sweepers are a rare bird in my neighborhood.
slackiller2 years ago
great idae, should sav e some money on these
travelfeet2 years ago
For those with out a local street sweeper, I bet that the leftover splines from an old pair of windshield wipers would do very well instead. I have a pile of these that I have used for all sorts of projects that needed a small piece of springy (and stainless) steel.
kz12 years ago
More simple, more better! Nice 'ible and super useful. Now if I can just find somewhere they still brush the streets! :>) Got to be an app for that.
jadronx3 years ago
nice ible! if i ever get time/materials/space to build a really nice woodworking bench ill probably use this
Larryjaneen3 years ago
How many holes and where do you drill them In the top of your table how far apart thanks
pchretien (author)  Larryjaneen3 years ago
There are 15 1/4" holes. Each group of 3 holes are 8 inches apart. The three rows are aligned with my bench vise so I can squeeze boards between the vise pin and the center bench dog.
oakback4 years ago
What is this used for?
jdege oakback4 years ago
You stick it through a bench dog hole, and use it to hold your work.

You can see a brass bench dog (from Veritas), being used in the pictures - along with a Veritas Wonder Dog, which is basically a bench dog with a side-operating screw. Together, they make for a solid clamp.

You can also use a bench dog alone, when planing. But the end work up against the dog, and the pressure of the plane will hold the work solid. Alternatively, woodworker's benches have bench dog holes in their vises, so you can put dogs in the top and in the vise, and use the vise to clamp large, flat pieces.

pchretien (author)  jdege4 years ago
Wow, that was fast! Not much to add ... In the past, square bench dogs were used instead of the round ones. With that type of bench dogs, there was no need for the side spring to secure the piece in the hole. The bench dog was cut a bit larger at one end to make it block in the hole. Some peoples still use these but the square holes in the workbench are more complicated to make. P.
jdege pchretien4 years ago
I'd never thought of using my Wonder Dog to clamp dowels. I'd always used my shoulder or tail vise. Using the Wonder Dog clamps on three sides, and looks like it would be a lot more stable. If I'd not already wasted too much money on brass Veritas dogs, I'd be giving your 'ible a try...