Introduction: DIY Pop Up Bench Dogs

So i wanted to add the functionality to my bench that usually is only found with high end vises, the pop up bench dog or prairie dog as it is sometimes called. These bench dogs pop down out of the way when not in use and quickly pop up when needed! So i took the DIY approach and watched a few videos to see how others did it. I landed on this simple method that is very affordable and easy to pull off.


For this project you will need:

1 dowel the size of your bench dog holes, for me that's a 3/4' dowel but 1" is also a common size.

The "pop up" mechanism. I used a push latch cylinder that is sold by itself and is relatively cheap.

A drill or drill press with a drill bit that is the same size as the diameter of the cylinder latch. If you use the same ones i did, the proper bit size is 7/16"

A way to cut the notch from the dog itself. I used a hand saw but you could also do it with a bandsaw or jigsaw.

Some sort of adhesive to glue the mechanism into the dog. I used hot melt glue but 5 Minute epoxy or Super Glue would work just as well.

You will need to use a drill again in order to make the holes for the pop up dogs to rest in. I used a drill in a drill guide to ensure that the holes are drilled perfectly perpendicular to the bench top.

Thats It, .... Now let's get STARTED!

Step 1: Decide How Long You Want Your Bench Dogs to Be

You will need to decide how long you want your dogs to be. For myself, just to keep it uniform, i opted to go with the same length of the Wood River Bench dogs I already own. So i used my calipers to measure my WR dogs and locked the caliper into that measurement. For me, it was 60mm. When im working in these smaller measurements i prefer to work in metric because its easier for me to do the math! Use the caliper to make a mark in your dowel and cut the dowel to length using your preferred method. Once you have the pieces cut for the dogs, use some sort of measuring device to find the center on your dowel. Use a punch or an awl to mark the center point for the drill bit.

Step 2: Drill the Holes for the Mechanism

Use your drill press or drill to add a hole in the center of the dowel that is the same size as the "pop up" mechanism. If you use the same one i did here : You will need a 7/16" drill bit for the device to fit snug, but leave enough room for glue.

Step 3: Do Your Layout for the Dogs

I started with the caliper, measuring the dog, the mechanism and the entire setup together as well as the difference between the dog when it's engaged and disengaged. This measurement will be equal to the notch in the dog so it seats level to the bench surface when it is engaged. Using the same method, make the initial measurement with a scratch from the caliper, then i set my small combination square to that mark and use a pencil to make all the marks more visible. Then cut away the waste area or "notch" in the dog. You can do this as i did, with a hand saw, or use a bandsaw if you feel comfortable.

Step 4: Attach the Mechanism to the Dogs

Now that your dogs have taken their form, you can begin to insert glue in the holes you drilled earlier and attach the mechanism to the dogs. I used hot glue, but you can use whatever adhesive you prefer. After mounting the first one, I checked to make sure the latch functioned as it should, then i lined up several at a time in a hand screw clamp to make for quick work of the rest of my new dogs.

Step 5: Drill the Holes for Your Dogs to Live In

Now that the pop up dog assemblies themselves are complete, you can begin to drill the holes in your bench where they will be positioned. I used the same drilling guide that i used in order to drill the rest of my dog holes to ensure a good hole that is perpendicular to the bench top. I referred back to my drawings/measurements that i made earlier to know how deep the holes should be for the complete dog assembly to fit flush when in the down position. After drilling the first hole, i insert one of the dogs to ensure that my measurements were correct and after that was confirmed, i continued with drilling all the other holes required to accommodate all the dogs i had made.

Step 6: Add Finish to Your New Dogs

Now you can sand the dog assembly (if you are into that sort of thing ;) and add your preferred finish to the dogs. I chose a boiled linseed oil to match my bench. This will make them travel a bit smoother and well.... just make them pretty!

Step 7: Place Your New Dogs in Their New Home and TRY THEM OUT!!!

Now all the work is done, you can place each new dog assembly in it's hole and probably, if you are anything like me, play with them for at LEAST 10 minutes or so just popping them up and down. Find a piece to work on and test out your new dogs. I used this beautiful piece of locally cut rough cedar to plane and test out my new setup because it looks nice and smells FANTASTIC! This will give you yet another option when it comes to work holding on your workbench. And they're fun to play with too!!!!

Step 8: Go Watch the Video for More Information

Now that you have completed your new dogs, check out this build video i made to accompany the project! As always feel free to leave a like and a comment with ANY questions you may have and i will be delighted to answer them if i can! Try making a set for your bench, you Won't regret it !!!!

Get Better Every Day!!!!!