"Pound-a-peg" or "Pounding Bench" Toy

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Forum topic by skone posted 11-22-2010 03:32 PM 10083 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View skone's profile


147 posts in 3929 days

11-22-2010 03:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: toy gift pound pounding bench pound-a-peg peg christmas holiday presents question lathe

Greetings. I plan on giving my young son a “Pound-a-peg” or “Pounding Bench” toy this Christmas. You know – hammer the pegs through the holes, flip over the ‘bench’, repeat. It seems simple enough that many of us would draw up our own plan or “wing it”. I did a search on plans however, and while I only found one very old plan, I found an issue to consider. These are not simply tightly fitting dowels as you may first assume—the pegs have a kerf or two. The plan also calls for turning your own dowels using a lathe. I don’t have a lathe. While I assume that I can just use pre-fab milled dowels—- I’m here to ask: Has anyone made one of these for a child? Suggestions? To kerf or not to kerf? I’ve seen store-bought versions with no kerf. Plans? Pics? Any thoughts are welcome. Thanks!

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

10 replies so far

View sras's profile


6181 posts in 4253 days

#1 posted 11-22-2010 03:48 PM

I would go for the kerfs. The kerf would allow for the dowel to be slightly oversized and still fit such that is can be driven through the hole. Without the kerf, the dowel / hole sizes need to be matched very closely. Also, no kerfs would mean that a little bit of wear could result in a loose fit. I would think that store bought dowels would work out fine when kerfs are used…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4198 days

#2 posted 11-22-2010 04:15 PM

I find that store bought dowells, especially for the larger sizes, are not very accurate with respect to their diameter.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View swirt's profile


6277 posts in 4096 days

#3 posted 11-22-2010 04:32 PM

The store bought version has no kerf because they embed a little rubber type gromet in each hole to provide the friction needed to keep the peg in place but allow it to be pounded in.
I haven’t made one, but I have made kerfs in dowel for the same reason (sorry no photos and long gone)

One deep kerf along the length that goes just a little deeper than the center line of the peg worked better for me than two kerfs on opposite sides that only went 1/4 of the diameter. Though that may be more dependent on the wood type of the dowel. I used red oak from the borg. My guess is that the two kerfs cut in might hold up longer though…not sure, just a guess

They cut quick with a hand saw. A handscrew works well to hold it while cutting the kerf.

-- Galootish log blog,

View skone's profile


147 posts in 3929 days

#4 posted 11-22-2010 04:44 PM

Thanks, sras. I’d not thought about the inevitable wear and tear on the dowel diameter and fit. I’ll certainly be cutting kerfs. rich, I agree completely. It’s going to be a necessity to test the stock for proper fit with my spade (I don’t have forstners) bits.

Any thoughts on hardwoods for this? Poplar seems to be the most readily available pre-milled hardwood dowel. And it will take paint nicely for adding bright toy-typical colors. Hard enough for pounding? I’ve noticed oak and maple dowels on woodcraft and rockler. Without getting into the Janka scale, I wonder if it may be worth ordering, say, maple.

Thanks again, guys. I’m excited about this. My boy is 19 months old but a really big, bright, early walker and talker. His favorite thing to talk about is “TOOLS!”, so I’ve gotten a little preschool pretend drill and saw and am putting a little kit together for him in the Bosch bag from my new sander. I think he’ll be pretty excited.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View swirt's profile


6277 posts in 4096 days

#5 posted 11-22-2010 05:59 PM

The big box stores usually have both poplar and oak. I’d go with the oak for durability. The texture of the oak might also give it a bit more grasp on the hole, but if you’re going to paint it, then that likely would not make a difference.

Spade bits will likely give you a bigger hole than you hope for anyway so the dowel will likely fit well. One way to increase the traction and make it last longer is to double the thickness of the part the dowel gets pounded into. If it were me I’d probably laminate two piece together. It would help prevent splitting along the line of the holes all drilled in a row.

-- Galootish log blog,

View skone's profile


147 posts in 3929 days

#6 posted 11-22-2010 06:12 PM

swirt – Thanks for both posts. Excellent suggestions – particularly laminating the pounding surface. I had thought about stepping up from the common 1x stock to something thicker but your method would certainly be superior even to that in terms of strength. I’d not thought of the possible stress crack running hole to hole. Great point. Keep this from becoming firewood on Christmas day.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 4107 days

#7 posted 11-22-2010 07:45 PM

I made a pounding bench a few years back. I had to under size the holes for the pegs for a tight friction fit to pound. I had to pound the pegs a few times before painting the pegs to loosen them up for a toddler to be able to hammer them. After painting the pegs I pounded them again a few times and after I felt that it was just right for the toddler I repainted the pegs again. I made it all from Red Oak including the mallet. Not having Forstner bits I broke out my Brace and expanding bit to bore the undersized holes. My pegs ranged in size from 1”- 1 1/4”. I had to special order the 1 1/4” dowel through my local lumber yard. I never thought such a simple project could be a mind provoking project to get the pegs to fit tight. Anyway that was my experience with making a pounding bench.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View fredf's profile


495 posts in 4834 days

#8 posted 11-23-2010 12:55 AM

if you drill holes in laminated top you could counter bore the middle to hold an o-ring . . . you would just need to find a way to exactly line up the holes. . . perhaps a few extra dowels to peg the legs on or something?

-- Fred, Springfield, Ma

View skone's profile


147 posts in 3929 days

#9 posted 11-29-2010 02:43 AM

thanks, gregn and fredf. all good food for thought. my son picked out the wood with me last week. he still has no idea what it’s for, but he ran straight for a gorgeous piece of curly maple. picked up a maple dowel, as well…

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View wjt99's profile


32 posts in 2639 days

#10 posted 11-29-2016 04:08 PM

I was frustrated trying to get pegs to fit in a child’s cobbler bench. Too loose or too tight.

I found this thread and was in the process of trying the ‘O’ ring approach when I stumbled on a solution that worked.

I had grabbed a piece of scrap wood out of my garbage can to test the idea. I drilled a counterbore for the ‘O’ ring with a spade bit and a centered hole for the pegs with a forstner bit, installed the ‘O’ ring and drove in a peg. A little too tight. I removed the ‘O’ ring and it was a snug fit. Just about right. I had used the same bit as in the original and using the same pegs but now it was a just right fit. What changed? I was flummoxed. It finally dawned on me that the piece of wood from my garbage can was 3/4” contractor grade plywood instead of poplar which was the original wood.

A second test piece this time using poplar and I had a loose fit.

I tried a piece of 3/4” marine plywood I had on hand and it provided a snug fit. Not sure why those multiple plies are making the difference but I was able to replicate the desired results. A simple solution.


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