Quick, Cheap, and Easy Benchdogs




Introduction: Quick, Cheap, and Easy Benchdogs

About: Last native son of a dying planet, Scott was raised in the greater Lake Titicaca metropolitan region by wolves and a well-read okapi.

Recently I built some folding portable workbenches (these will be featured in an upcoming Instructable). Now to make them really useful, I needed to make some bench dogs to go with them. What are bench dogs? Well bench dogs are an invaluable accessory to your workbench to greatly extend the effective width of your vise. They can be used to hold down a long board while you plane, sand, or otherwise work on it. The holes I made in these workbenches are 3/4" in diameter, but this could be easily adapted for any diameter.


  • Drill Press
  • 3/4" Forstner Bit
  • 1/4" Brad Point Bit (or equivalent - see below)
  • 3/32" Brad Point Bit (or equivalent - see below)
  • Saw (I used a table saw and miter saw, but you can really use any kind)
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper (I used 60 and 220 grit)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil


  • 3/4" Dowel
  • 1x2 or Scrap of Wood
  • Wood Glue
  • 1/4" Bolt (see below)
  • Small Screw (see below)
  • Paste Wax (optional)

Step 1: Cut the Caps

Ideally, what you would like to use is 1x2 hardwood (like poplar) for the caps, but I made these bench dogs almost entirely with what I had on hand, so I just used a section of 2x4 scrap I had ripped earlier. I used my table saw to rip the scrap to 1" wide. If you don't mind having your bench dogs wider in one direction or want to make the caps 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" you can skip this step. If you do use a table saw to rip the board, be sure to either use a push stick or leave a healthy tail that you leave un-ripped. This is pretty narrow and isn't not worth cutting you fingers off for.

Next, you cut the caps into squares with your saw. I cut mine so that each square was 1" x 1". Again, if you're using a miter saw like I did, be sure to leave enough material to make sure you hands don't go near the blade. If you're using a hand saw, this won't be nearly as critical.

I would say that four dogs is probably the minimum you should make, but it's good to make a few extras. You will need to make one extra sacrificial end cap to make the jig for the dowels in step three. Therefore you should cut at least five caps.

Step 2: Drill Out the Caps

Using your ruler and pencil, draw a diagonal line between the opposite corners. Where they intersect is the center of the block. Set up your 3/4" Forstner bit in your drill press and use the point at the center of the bit to center your block. I drilled the holes about 1/2" deep, but it doesn't matter too much so long as you are able to seat the dowel pretty far into the cap, but not so far that you weaken or drill through the top.For the sacrificial jig cap you will probably want to drill a bit deeper to accommodate the head of the bolt.

Step 3: Make the Sanding Jig

The workbench I made has bench dog holes that are 3/4" in diameter. The 3/4" dowels will therefore be too thick. They'll be hard to get into the hole and difficult to extract. Therefore, we'll need to make them ever so slightly thinner. To do this, we're going to make a sanding jig from the extra sacrificial cap.

I used a 1/4" bolt I had lying around, but it doesn't really matter much what diameter it is. The Forstner bit will leave a small divet in the center of the hole where its center point was. You now chuck a 1/4" brad point bit (or the diameter of your bolt) and use the divet to center your drill and then proceed to drill all the way through the rest of the cap.

Once you've finished the center hole, lay the jig on its side and use a 3/32" brad point to drill a pilot hole in the side. Note that this sized hole was the right for the small screw I happened to have. Use a diameter that is appropriate for the size screw you use.

Once you are done, stick the bolt from the bottom of the jig through the hole in the top and start the small screw through the side, but don't let it protrude into the inside of the hole.

Step 4: The Dowels

Use your saw to cut the 3/4" dowels for however many bench dogs you want to make. I decided to make mine 1 3/4" long. Be sure when you decide on the length, that you account for the depth that the dowels will go into the caps. Again if you are using a power saw, be sure to give your fingers plenty of clearance.

Now it's time to use the sanding jig. Stick you dowel as far as you can into the jig. Then screw the screw a little ways into the dowel. This will prevent the dowel from turning independently of the jig. Now chuck the bolt into your drill press. Start the drill press and hold the sandpaper up to it. It's a good idea to hold the sandpaper at an angle at the very bottom of the dowel to give it a little bit of a bevel. I started with 60 grit sandpaper until it was the right thickness. To get the right thickness, you will need to test the dowel in the bench dog hole (or a hole of the same size). The dowel should easily be inserted and removed from the hole, but have no wobble while it's in the hole. Once I got the approximate thickness, I switched to 220 grit sandpaper to smooth the dowel out.

Step 5: Final Steps

Almost done. To finish off, I used wood glue to glue a dowel into each of the caps. I didn't bother with clamps, because the caps held the dowels pretty tightly already. I then sanded the caps with a 60 grit and then a 220 grit sandpaper. I did a little sanding at an angle on each of the corners to give them a small bevel. Last, I rubbed the bench dogs with some paste wax to protect the wood with a paper towel, rubbing any excess off.


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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Great tutorial! Thank you!


    3 years ago

    Great first instructable! I'm looking forward to seeing the workbench :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! I've done two of the workbenches as "prototypes" and will be documenting the third as an Instructable as soon as I get one of the key parts from Amazon.