I'm building a workbench that I originally designed to have a series of
3/4" x 3/4" bench dogs. I'm about to cut the dogs, but I came across
some 8-1/8" bench hold down clamps:
So, which should I go with? The dogs or the clamps?
The workbench will have no specific mission, just a general workbench.
The dogs are 3/4" square and the clamps are 3/4" diameter.
I personally prefer the dogs, since they allow access to an entire board for a
plane or sander. For the small cost why not go with both? To clamp directly to
the bench I use hand screws or C-clamps.
Hope that helps.
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When scraping a table top you will get your answer. Clamps are OK, but dogs
leave the entire surface open with nothing to bang into. You can always go
with round dogs (Lee Valley has them) and clamps to use what is best on a
I can envision times when one or the other would be preferable. My
ingenious solution would be to buy both. My only concern would be knowing
how the hold down clamp (an I incorrect in also calling this a holdfast?) is
made. I'd have a preference for a forged one over cast.
Both. They do different things. Bench dogs are used as stops to hold
things on their edges. Common uses are when hand-planing or other work,
often in combination with a vise, which either has a pop-up dog or holes for
loose bench dogs.
A hold-down does what it sounds like - holds work down against the bench,
and does so by applying the clamping force to the face or veritcally on the
piece. There are a lot of uses for this as well, one being to hold a piece
for routing operations, drilling holes, etc. etc.
The hold-down I prefer is actually a clamping hold-down sold by Lee Valley.
It's not cheap, but I find it extremely useful the more I have it. Here it
The type you showed from Harbor Freight is pretty common and useful, but to
seat the work you have to wack the holddown with a mallet, and again to
loosen it, so over time you can get wear on the dog hole of the bench.
They've been used for a long time, though, so there's nothing wrong with
Use BOTH. Buy the hold-down clamps and make the dogs. For the dogs, cut
some 1 1/2 inch squares out of 1-inch maple stock; bore 3/4 inch holes in
the center and glue in some 2-inch pieces of 3/4 inch oak dowel. There is
no reason that the dogs have to have square shafts. Round works just as
well and fits into the same holes as the hold-downs. I prefer hardwood
dogs. They do less damage to chisels, gouges or planes when there is
accidental contact. It's also a good idea to glue a pad of shoe-sole
leather to the part of the hold-down that will be in contact with the work.
Makes for fewer dents in the work.
You'll need both - the hold down to - duh - hold things down while
chop on their ends, and the bench dogs to hold them while you work
on the top - sanding, carving, planing etc. If you're dog holes are
close enough to the edge of the bench you can hold a piece you want
to route a through slot in.
I've got one of the hold downs you're looking at - used it to hold
I was chopping dovetails in. Wack the top with a mallet and it's
set, tap the back with a mallet and it lets go. Worked great on my
"old bench" of ply but doesn't seem to hold well on my new bench
of 3 1/2" of maple - don't know why. That type of hold down will
ovalize your doghole(s) after a while - perhaps that's why mine
isn't working in the new bench.
Veritas had, and may still have, a hold down that screws into or
slips into a metal base inset in the bench top. Turn the knob
to tighten or loosen. No ovalizing of a doghole since it has its
own dedicated "base unit".
Why not have square AND round dogholes and dogs - you can
make your own. The more the merrier - a good bench, in
addition to being a thing to pound on is also a big versatile
clamp. Here are some ideas, stolen from Ken Vaughn's site
(all one line so watch the line wrap)
Since this seems to be your first workbench there will be another
down to the line so experiment now and add what you learn to
The Real Bench you'll make later.
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