Drilling Dog Holes #2

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Forum topic by DEH57 posted 01-14-2017 12:37 PM 865 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1555 days

01-14-2017 12:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: work bench top mdf dog holes question

Although there is a pretty recent thread on this below, I also have this situation, but wanted to outline some specifics to tailor responses. Sorry if this seems redundant but I read that entire thread and want to ensure I do it as correctly as possible for the material and equipment I have on hand.

I am a new wood worker, giving up mechanics (hot-rodding) as a hobby after 40+ years. I have a meager woodworking tool set, but it is getting better and growing. I too just built a workbench and would like to add round dog holes adjacent to the Yost 9” wood vise I installed on it, but like the fellow below, am concerned about the dog holes being in line and square. Here’s what I have:

1) I’ve already built the bench. I believe it will outlast me. It weighs about 250-275 pounds. It is 84” long x 32” wide x 34.5” high. I put Powertec retractable casters on it for mobility when that need arises. It is built primarily from straight construction grade lumber. The top is 5 pieces of 3/4” MDF laminated with Titebond 3 glue. It is solid, heavy, and doesn’t wrack or rock. I put 5 coats of satin polyurethane on the top.

2) I have a very good quality 1/2” drill.

3) I have a Wolfcraft drill guide with 3/8” chuck. It wobbles a lot – not the best thing out there but the best I could find for this type of job.

4) I have an inexpensive fixed base router with 1/4” collet.

5) I have mid-grade spade bits and Forstner bits, both 3/4”.

6) I also have an Irwin Speed-Bor 3/4” bit.

7) I plan to use a backer board to prevent blow out when I finally settle on how to drill or bore the holes.

8) I do not have a plunge router (and wouldn’t know how to do that anyway).

9) I’ve also seen L-shaped wood jigs to guide a reasonably square hole. I don’t feel confident enough to use this.

What I am looking for, given the conditions above, is the best and most accurate way to make these holes. There is some serious talent out here and I’m hope to capitalize on that advice!

Thanks in advance, respectfully, Dan

-- ** Insert witty or thought provoking moniker here **

5 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile


681 posts in 1425 days

#1 posted 01-14-2017 04:59 PM

Here’s what I would do.
Lay out center marks all around the scrap. These will help with alignment later on.

Take you best shot at drilling your first hole in a piece of scrap 2x lumber. Stick a piece of 3/4 dowel in the hole and check how you did. Now you have options. If you hit plumb all around, you can use the this as a starter guide for the rest of your holes.
If you didn’t hit plumb either try again or consider another option. Some WWs like the dog holes tilted a bit toward the vise. If you want to go this route, mark the test hole where the tilt is towards the vise and use the guide to start the rest of your holes.

The guide works because once the bit gets into the top at the proper angle, it will continue to follow that angle.

-- Sawdust Maker

View DEH57's profile


5 posts in 1555 days

#2 posted 01-14-2017 07:53 PM

Thank you for that – I’ll give it a shot. I failed to mention that I have a cheap benchtop drill press, so can bore the hole n the 2x with a Forstner pretty darned square. Then, with a hand drill, will start the hole (Ive seen this technique in a couple of threads) with that Forstner, then finish with a spade bit through the layers and the backer board.

Sound like a plan?

-- ** Insert witty or thought provoking moniker here **

View Woodchips39's profile


7 posts in 1496 days

#3 posted 01-14-2017 09:24 PM

DEH57, I would like to suggest you consider getting one of the new “Dowel Wizard” wood doweling jigs to add to your growing collection of shop tools. I find that it is the most accurate, low cost and easy to use doweling tools available today. Check it out

View Rentvent's profile


151 posts in 1654 days

#4 posted 01-14-2017 11:40 PM

Plunge router plus pegboard. The router plate doesn’t have to be aluminum.. it can be pegboard too.

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1171 posts in 3336 days

#5 posted 01-15-2017 06:17 AM

^ Dan says he doesn’t have a plunge router..

Dan, your plan is a good one. A guide hole in a 2×4 will get you started pretty close to plumb vertical using a hand drill. A Forstner bit has only 5/8” or so of vertical registration, so even a guide hole in 3/4” sheet stock would be sufficient if you use only the Forstner.

But for a bit better accuracy, use a 2×4 guide hole. Start your dog hole with the Forstner, maybe the first 1/4”. This will give you a clean entry. Switch to the Speed-Bor, keeping the guide block in place, and drill as far as you can. If that isn’t all the way through, remove the guide block and finish off with the Forstner.

Don’t bother with a backer. If there is any blow-out, it won’t have any impact on the performance of the dog holes. And no one will ever see it.

BTW, woodworking isn’t machining metal. Tolerances are two orders of magnitude less. If you can get the holes plumb vertical to 1/16” over 4”, they will work just fine.

Aside, the jigs for square dog holes only work for edge-laminated tops. I did square dogs for my bench (see ) and it isn’t difficult, but considering you’ve got your top already, round dogs are your only real option.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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