A bench dog, sometimes called a workbench dog, is a tool that fits into pre-drilled holes to aid in securing a item to the workbench. It is a tool used primarily by woodworkers. The item being worked on slips between a vice, which is at one end of the workbench, and the bench dog, that has been slipped into one of the holes. When the vise tightens, the work piece is held tight between it and the dog.
A tool that impedes movement or secures an item is often called a dog. While the bench dog’s use is typically for woodworking, there are other types of dogs. Dogs are used on ladders, hatches, chainsaws, and other places where it is necessary to control movement. The types of dogs vary in size and shape depending on their purpose.
Bench dogs can be crafted from wood or metal, such as iron or steel. Metal bench dogs can leave indentations on wood secured to them if over tightened. This is one reason some woodworkers prefer to use a wooden bench dog. Most woodworking stores carry bench dogs; however, some woodworkers prefer to make their own. A workbench can often be modified to include an area for this exact use.
A vise on one of the ends of a workbench might have a bench dog set within it. The dog holes in the workbench are usually spaced evenly in a straight line from the vise. This is often called the dog strip. The item being worked on is placed between the vise’s bench dog and one placed in the workbench holes. Once the vise tightens, the piece is secure and ready for work.
Round or square bench dogs are available, though round is the more common shape of commercially offered bench dogs. Metal versions typically have springs on the sides of the dog to keep it snug inside the workbench dog hole. When springs are not present, a slightly smaller hole is usually sufficient for keeping the dog in place. The length of the dogs is normally high enough to hold various board thicknesses without impeding the work being done.
There are many times when a woodworker needs the wood tightly secured to a bench. Sanding, hand planning, or chiseling are a few examples where a snugly held piece can make the work easier as well as safer. Many workbench designs incorporate dog strips and vises because of the usefulness of bench dogs.