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Thread: Dog Holes v.s. T-track?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!

    Dog Holes v.s. T-track?

    I've been going back and forth on my dog hole plans for a bench under construction. It's layered MDF with a 9" quick release vise at the front and side. Front vise jaws will be 2" x 4" x 15" beech.

    Original plan was three dog holes in each vise jaw with three rows drilled through the bench top front to back and side to side (round dogs). Now I'm starting to think about just insetting some t-track and using wooded stops with t-bolts. This is obviously not a 'classic' design bench, just a workhorse.

    Does anyone see a problem with this idea? Anyone laid t-track into a bench top for this purpose? I suppose one is as easy as the other on the labor end of it but the track would give me variable positioning.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Smithville, TX
    I would prefer dogholes for a bench. The main problem I see with T-track is it will be a catch-all for parts, edges, small tools, etc as pieces are slid across. T-tracks are often indespensible, but the workbench might not be the ideal place for them. Dogholes are elegant, fast geometric setups, and don't get in the way. For instance, you want to clear a section of the bench, lots of tools and stuff on it, need to clear the T-track, too, but you have to move all the other stuff first to get it off the bench or out of the way. With a bench dog, you just push it down or lift it out and rock on. Just my 2 chips worth. If you do decide to use T-track, don't trust the screws to hold it tight, use epoxy or other strong adhesive that will bond aluminum to wood to back up the screws.
    Mini Max Tool Acquisition Mediator.
    "An old man to most kids and a young man to those who are dead."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Trinity County - 160 miles north of San Francisco. Redwood forest.

    Dog Holes vs T-Track

    I wouldn't do one single thing more until you read the long essay by Christopher Schwarz in this month's Popular Woodworking. He covers all the parameters of bench design. Really an informative and well-thought out presentation.

    His preference for the top was just a single line a dog holes (side to side) about 6 inches from the rear. These will accommodate the Lee Valley hold down clamp and reach out to the middle and near the front to fix wood in the location you'll most likely work.

    Your T-Track idea is good. I am just putting finishing touches on 18 running feet of wall benches in my new shop. Top is 1 inch Euro birch ply, and I ran a short section of T-Track in front of the grinder station, and another near the front where I can get a C-clamp under the lip and over the edge to hold down small stuff.

    Before waving the flag, I'll spend a few weeks trying it out and report back here on the forum. For all I know, I'm on a fool's errand.

    Gary Curtis
    Northern California

  4. #4
    The issue I would see with T track is holding capability. If they run perpendicular to the vise (which provides adjust ability) then the stop must be fastened tightly to get it to hold. If they run parallel, then much of the flexibility is lost - so why not go with the dogs. Also, with the power of most vises, I could foresee galling or bending the aluminum track easily.

    Just food for thought,

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Floydada, Tx
    The only problem I see is the weakness of alum. I am not sure if it would hold up if you do a lot of hand work. Personally have not used a bench with vise to hold work tight(in my shop it is a few scraps of wood,screws and wedges to get it held tight) . Maybe make up a small section and test it to see it if it can hold up to the stress neede for hand planing and stuff. Good luck with it and let us know how you make out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Thanks all. I too have concerns about a steel t-bolt in an aluminum track faced with 'me' being the control-factor for tension via the vise screw. One 1/4 turn too far and I could be very unhappy. I do plan to build a little test strip and torture it. I'll post the results so maybe I can certify or nix this approach for others.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Well that didn't take long. With a 2 1/2" square block supporting the t-bolt tightened down like a stop block, I never even got as far as testing vise pressure. It appears that even planing a board using the t-track/t-bolt/block as a stop was too much in my opinion. Perhaps if the t-track were fully attached via epoxy it would be stronger. The possibility of fouling a track that is epoxied in does not appeal to me. This test combined with the obvious clean out problems a track would present is steering me back to dog holes.

    Thanks all.

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