Is it better to make dog holes in a round or square shape? I believe square would be preferable for providing more friction. However, clamping dogs limit the direction of movement.


However, both methods – round and square – are functional and reliable.


3/4″ diameter circular dog holes are my favorite. They are easier to install both during and after the building of your bench. In addition, round dog holes can accommodate a broad range of contemporary workbench attachments, such as hold downs, holdfasts, and Wonder Dogs. You may also rotate the dogs 360 degrees to clasp items with unusual shapes. 

Round dogs have the disadvantage of being made of brass or other metal, and this can be hazardous to your equipment. You can manufacture round wooden dogs (use hardwood), but I’ve been using round metal dogs for almost a decade and have only had one performance issue.

Arranging Holes for the Dogs

So, where should you put your dog holes? I typically have two dog hole lines. One is for a holdfast, while the other is for an end vise. Bore a lengthy line of dog holes along the front edge of your workbench if you have an end vise (like a tail vise). This row of holes is usually 2″ to 6″ from the front end. I prefer 4″ because it enables me to clamp an 8″ broad board in the middle. This is appropriate for me because I have an 8″ power jointer.

These holes are spaced around 3″ apart. Closer dog holes are preferable for this series of dog holes since they will reduce the amount of time you spend tightening and loosening your tail vise. This series of holes must be approximately 6″ from the bench’s back border. You’ll be capable of rotating your holdfasts for quite a range of holding conditions as a result. That should be plenty to get you started.

Rotational Capability

This is the most crucial factor for me since I’ve discovered a significant difference in clamping out of square wood with round and square bench dogs.

When building furniture, a square dog’s face is put parallel to the benchtop, which will work in most cases, but in fact, I depend on my dogs’ rotational ability to be capable of holding the piece securely. The ends are frequently not square when preparing raw lumber by hand since I cut the boards without measuring them. My round dogs readjust themselves to hold firm when I tighten the vice when clamping panels like this to level their faces; with square dogs and vigorous planning, the job would slip out.

There have been several occasions when I’ve needed to clamp slightly slanted or even curved stuff as part of a project, and square dogs are far less useful in these situations.

Bench Dog Hole Are Easy to Make

Round dog holes are more straightforward to implement than square dog holes, in my experience. These may be done using a pillar drill or a hand-held drill with a guide — for more information, read this post. On the other hand, square holes need a lot more work, either in terms of raw force or devising a way to rout them. In addition, the routing is dependent on having a coated top and cutting the pieces before gluing them together, which might result in a weakened glue line and a more difficult glue-up.

In my perspective, circular holes are significantly easier to add to a preexisting bench when retrofitting a vice.

Using Several Holes

This is an essential aspect to me because I work with holdfasts frequently. I can ensure that every hole in the benchtop is also appropriate for a holdfast by utilizing round bench dogs, making it adaptable without cluttering it with holes.

I also prefer to utilize dogs and holdfasts on the front face of my bench, whether it’s in a deep apron, board jack, or leg, and I think round holes are better than square holes in these locations.

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