VIDEO - Workbench Dog Holes - Popular Woodworking Magazine
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Glen D. Huey shows you how to install round bench dog holes – it’s a snap when using a router and a spiral up-cut router bit.

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  • MikeTipp

    Great idea, only what about eye and hearing protection.? Pardon my curmudgeonness, but I teach at a woodworking school and not using eye protection is just demonstrating BAD practice.

  • RockyII

    Great tip and timely as I am about to put dog holes in a bench top. But what about spacing? Is there a standard spacing convention, two or three good, or is it just personal preference?

    • Glen Huey

      I set my holes every 4″, but this is a better question to ask Megan Fitzpatrick or Chris Schwarz.

      • Megan Fitzpatrick
        Megan Fitzpatrick

        Mine are 4″ on center, too — but Glen, don’t be tryin’ to act like you don’t have a set of holdfasts – I KNOW you do 😉

        • RockyII

          Thanks for your help.



    The use of the router is a great idea. When I made my bench, I used a 3/4″ forstner bit to drill the holes. It worked well, but when I went to insert a dog into one, it did not go in very far. Further investigation showed that as the bit drilled down, because of the short length of the shaft (3/4″ section), it wandered.

    Yes, I got a 3/4″ hole, but it did not have parallel sides. I re-drilled with a 3/4″ brad point to straighten the holes and all is now well. the dogs fit and the bench hooks grab. I only mention this because you showed a forstner bit in your video as an option. I don’t think that bit is a good option when using a powered hand drill.

  • bobdutica

    I built a Veritas bench based on plans obtained from Lee Valley. For the dog holes, I made a jig using two pieces of 8/4 ash (the material used for the bench) as described in those plans. The holes were drilled with a 3/4″ HSS Lipped Brad Point Drill Bit (Lee Valley item #07J02.48) in an ordinary 1/2″ power drill. I drilled two 3/4″ holes in the jig on the drill press in one piece of 8/4 ash, spaced to equal the dog hole spacing for the bench. The second piece of 8/4 ash was glued on as a fence, the distance from the holes to the fence equalled the desired distance of the dog holes from the edge of the bench. Once one hole was drilled, a dog placed through the first hole in the jig and passed through to the first hole, automatically set the second hole of the jig to drill the next hole. The drill bit cost less than 3/4 the cost of the 3/4 inch router bit, and I found lots of other uses for the drill bit. I had no problems with burning or dulling of the drill bit. (Those Lee Valley Lipped Brad Point bits are the greatest!)

    • Danny H.

      Bob, that’s another great way to make the holes as well. I also used this method on other dog holes on my work bench top, except that I purchased a hardened steel bushing from
      McMaster-Carr to make a drill bit guide. That way I could use it over and over again without deforming the hole, to assure that I would always have a straight dog hole. A less expensive source for the 3/4 ” brad point drill bit can be found through Router Bit World out of Utah. They sell a good quality one for around $12.00 with only one dollar shipping. It’s the Amana Timberline series. Sure beats paying the $45.00 for the Lee Valley one!

      • bobdutica

        I really like McMaster-Carr. Whenever I need a special tool or hardware item, I can almost always find it there. I used to try to buy inexpensive tools, but now that I am a lot older, I try to buy the best quality I can find for the job I have in mind. For brad point drill bits, I have been going by an article published in the Nov.-Dec. 2005 issue of Fine Woodworking where 8 brands were compared. In that comparison, Lee Valley High Speed Steel Lipped Brad Point bits won hands down over all others for both accuracy in the size of the hole and clean cutting action. The 3/4″ size currently sells for $31.60. My bit has cut many holes through hard maple, and it cuts the maple like it was butter. (Lee Valley also has a less expensive, High Carbon Steel 3/4″ Brad Point Bit for $16.80. But, like I said, I try to stick with the best quality I can afford for the tools I buy now. (I’m currently adding a number of Lie-Nielsen planes, chisels and saws to my tool set. Several years ago I bought a workshop apron that said “He who dies with the most tools, wins!”)

        • Danny H.

          I’m pretty much the same when it comes to tools , but when I know I’m probably not going to use one very much then I’ll sacrifice some quality for price.I’m still working on acquiring more hand tools as well. Merry Christmas and Happy News years to you!

  • Danny H.

    The only problem I had with plunging my bench dog holes with this method is not having enough length on the bit to go all the way through the top. If your top is much deeper than 2 inchs this becomes the problem. My bench top is 3 inches thick so to solve this I finished off the rest of the hole with a 3/4 forstner bit.

  • Danny H.

    This is exactly how I drilled my round dog holes in my recently built workbench, except that I didn’t rely on referencing my hole locations with pencil lines, as I’ve found that to not be as accurate as using spacer blocks. Maybe your income is a little more than mine or your just not as frugal me, because I have found a source for these 3/4 inch bits. Enco has the following 1/2 inch shank, 3/4″ end mill bit selection; (Item No.337-5119 Cobalt, 3 5/16″ OAl, $26.61)( Item No.337-4991, 3 5/16″ OAL, $18.55) (Item No. 320-0160, $12.10) (Item No. 320-2850 currently on sale for 10.95 ) So as you can see these are substantially less expensive than the Woodcraft or Lee Valley offerings for those of us who are pinching pennies. I used this last and least expensive bit and it worked just fine. Some are Cobalt steel and the lesser expensive ones are HSS.

    • Glen Huey

      This what makes woodworking great. Thank you for posting other bit options and where to find them. Originally, I left my holes short of going through my top as drawers below the top would catch dust and debris. Since I built my bench, I have opted to drill my front line of holes, which are in front of the case below, clear through the top and I did need to use a forstner bit to complete the job.

      • Danny H.

        No problem Glen. Thank you for sharing too ! Your Popular Woodworking site is fast becoming my favorite. keep up the great work !

  • BillT

    OK, I’m gonna play the part of curmudgeon. Sure, you could invest a couple hundred dollars in a big fancy plunge router and another $30 or something in a spiral upcut bit.

    Or you could do like I did and use a large-swing brace with an Irwin-pattern auger bit. Total investment about $12. No template needed; just measure and mark where you want the holes to be centered and place the lead screw of the bit on that mark.

    If your arm is getting so tired from augering a few holes in a bench top, mayhap your auger bit needs a little sharpening. Plus think of all the money you can save on a gym membership anyhow!

    • Glen Huey

      I get to be the bad guy on this one. This technique uses a standard router that, if you are a power-tool user, you probably have in your shop. And the holes are dead straight when complete. I even found other uses for my 3/4″ spiral bit. Additionally, this process is quick as can be. I spent less than 30 minutes plunging all the holes on my bench, including the six along the front edge. I could have been to the gym, had my work out, showered and returned home before the “brace & bit” user completed all the holes. To me, this was money well spent.

      • section1

        Yada da da I really hate these types of remarks and I don’t want to step on any toes here either but there’s one that just sticking right out and seriously you’ve got this one coming. I’m just so sick of reading from boastful power tool users how slow hand tool work is. You’ve got a machine for ripping, crosscutting, making dovetail, mortises, tenons etc, etc exactly who is the craftsman here you or your machines.

  • blackhorse16a

    Where do you get a bit like that?

    • Glen Huey

      Before all the requests for router bits come along, here are the two places I know of for router bits like the one I used to plunge-cut my bench holes. Lee Valley/Veritas item # 86J01.42 and at Woodcraft the item # is #03K53.

      • peter agostino

        MLCS Woodworking also sells a 3/4″ HSS spiral upcut bit for $14.95 (part #7498).

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