Bench Bitches

In this post we will look at an African solution to a lack of bench bitches.

Due to my predicament of living in self-inflicted woodworking isolation, it is not even an option to wonder into the nearest hardware store to pick up basic pieces of equipment such as bench dogs. Therefore like most other workshop-must-haves I needed to improvise and build my own.

For the same reason there are lots of bits and pieces I need to produce, so I thought up the following plan in order to speed up the production of this work-holding gem. The holes in my ‘bench’ are 20mm (0.79 in) in diameter and 96mm (3.78 in) apart (centre to centre). I took a piece of 20mm (0.79 in) threaded rod and chopped it up into bits of two different lengths. The shorter version being around 70mm and the longer version 150mm. The accompanying nuts were then welded onto the one end of each of these.


After tidying up the welded areas, I took some leather strips and glued it to the bolts to ensure that it will not dent wood.


These dogs stand 15mm (0.59 in) proud of the bench surface, which takes care of most situations I regularly come across. In cases where I need higher dogs I use the ones with another nut screwed on as indicated in the pictures below. You can see that it gives me the option to create a dog of exactly the correct height without too much fuss. It is however not as easy as the ones that you simply pull out of the bench top to the desired height, but this was not an option for me as my ‘bench top’ is only 20mm (0.79 in) thick. The thin top does cause the higher dog-setups to be somewhat floppy, but so far I do not tend to need these very often.


One added benefit of my dog design is that I can screw a spare nut into the threaded rod that protrudes underneath the bench in order to stabilise the longer dog setups.


If you are curious you can read all about my Alternative workbench/assembly table in a series of post with this title.

For stock thinner than about 18mm (0.71 in) I use a wide plane stop made out of 6mm plywood. I see Christopher Schwarz calls these devices ‘Redneck jigs’. I wonder what he would call my bench dogs then. It is probably better not to find out.

Finally, I made a small shelve below the top with 22mm (0.87 in) holes to accept the set of bitches for easy access.


Below you can see some pictures of the bitches at work.