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Most of the general uses for the holes I have seen only require individual holes. When more than one bench dog is used they are used in parallel holes so the distance is not usually a factor. I suppose it is possible there is some hardware that makes use of two or more holes simultaneously. If such hardware did exist the dog hole placement would be a factor.

Either way, is there a general recommended distance between dog holes in both directions? And by both directions I mean lengthwise and crosswise on the bench.

A related question would be: At what point would you have too many dog holes?

  • To answer your question about tools that use two holes, the Veritas Surface Vise uses two dog holes and is amazing to work with. Completely replaced my need for a tail vise. – Peter Grace Apr 30 '15 at 13:01
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is there a general recommended distance between dog holes in both directions?

Common sense says that the holes should be spaced from the vice in increments that are less than or equal to the maximum opening of the vice, so that you can clamp any sized object without needing shims.

In the crosswise direction, consider how large an object would need to be before you'd feel the need to use two dogs at each end instead of one. The holes in the Veritas Carver's Bench look like they're spaced on a 4" grid, but that's a specialty bench that's meant to hold relatively small workpieces of various shapes and from several directions. If you'll be working mostly on narrow boards, a single row of holes may be all you need. If you'll work on wide panels, a row of holes on each side of the bench might make sense. In other words, it really depends on you and how you'll use the bench. If you're not sure, remember that it's far easier to drill more holes than to undrill them.

it is possible there is some hardware that makes use of two or more holes

It's certainly possible, but a tool that depended on a specific hole spacing would have a very small market since there's no standard spacing. There's not even a standard shape for dog holes -- round is popular these days because it's easy to make round holes, but square bench dogs and holes are very traditional.

At what point would you have too many dog holes?

You have too many holes when you could do all the same work just as easily with fewer holes. You have too many holes when the holes get in the way of your work -- small parts or tools fall through them, you need to be careful about positioning your work so that none of the legs of the chair or table land on a hole, etc.

If you're building a bench and you're asking for advice about dog hole spacing, this may be a case where fewer is more.

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    There's not even a standard shape for dog holes is interesting since i could not find a concise answer for that either. If I ever made them it would be to fit LeeValley hardware anyway. Thanks for the great answer – Matt Apr 30 '15 at 3:41
  • The lions share of dog holes I've found seem to favor 3/4" round holes, though I've definitely seen square dog holes too. – Peter Grace Apr 30 '15 at 13:25
  • Been meaning to make a bench with pentagonal dog holes. It'll be a theft deterrent! – Alexander Gruber Feb 18 '19 at 23:14
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Fewer holes makes more sense since it is not difficult to add more holes when or if needed. I use my table for making signs along with other things and find that a T-track placed into a trench is useful as well - and I only have two tracks - one 25% down from the top and one one 25% up from the bottom of the table. The clamps hold the stock from the ends not above.

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