Bench Dog vs. Hold-Down Clamps
Issue: Issue 99
Posted Date: 5/18/2004
He originally designed his new workbench for 3/4" x 3/4" bench dogs, when he came across some 8-1/8" (3/4" diameter) hold-down clamps at Harbor Freight. Now he's torn and asked the newsgroup for guidance.
Why not use both, asked several posters, although one of them noted that he'd go with dogs if he had to choose. Another preferred dogs, but suggested using round dogs and clamps since they can use the same holes. Though he could envision a use for both, one poster mentioned his preference for forged hold-downs over cast. Agreeing that both were good choices, a newsgroup member explained their use:
- Bench dogs are used as stops to hold things on their edges for hand-planing or other handwork. They work in combination with a vise, which either has a pop-up dog or holes for loose bench dogs.
Hold-downs do what they sound like -- hold work down against the bench by applying the clamping force to the face of the piece. They are used for such things as routing and drilling holes. This comment noted that the model mentioned by the original poster was useful, but had to be whacked down and later loosened with a mallet. Over time, this caused the holes to wear out. He prefers a model sold by Lee Valley.
One of the advocates for both suggested buying the hold-down clamps and making the dogs.
- Make 1-1/2" squares out of 1-inch maple stock.
- Bore 3/4" holes in the center and glue in some 2" pieces of 3/4" oak dowel. Round works as well as square and hold-downs fit into the same holes. He prefers hardwood dogs because they can do less damage to chisels, gouges, or planes coming in contact.
- Glue a pad of shoe-sole leather to the part of the hold-down that comes in contact with the work and it'll make for fewer dents.
The next few post more categorically preferred the dogs since they allowed a plane or sander access to an entire board. (For clamping directly, one of the posters used hand screws or C-clamps.)