Bench dogs at my tail vise.

Most of you know I don’t really care too much for bench dogs. Mostly it’s because i don’t really need them. I am not sure if it’s the dogs themselves or the holes needed to use them I dislike, but mostly I think it’s the latter really. I have never really had use for them because of the clamp-in-the-vise system I use, which takes care of 98.99% of my needs or more. I do have some at my tail vise and as it is with most dog holes I spend most of my time digging lost screws, nails and then shavings and chips before I can use them. When they go all the  way through, my drawers and cupboards fill with junk. Anyway, as I don’t need them, I have no problem.P1150643


When I ordered the Juuma clamps Fine Tools in Germany mentioned in my last blog I also ordered a pair of Juuma holdfasts (above). Now holdfasts are not altogether my favourites either but only  for the same reason as the dogs––too many holes. Mostly holdfasts need holes in a benchtop too and they go all the way through. Often it is because you must tap to tighten them.  Holdfasts are most commonly used somewhere along the fore edge of the bench and then again somewhere quite near to where you work at the vise. P1150643I liked the Juuma holdfast because it has the advantage of the hand screw for tightening  and can also be tap-tightened. So, whether you like holes in your bench or not these holdfasts may be an answer provided you have a decent bench vise.P1150645

By clamping the holdfast stem in the vise with the pad of the screw hovering above the workpiece in the adjusted position you can lock the vise and then use the hand screw to cinch down on the work. There is more than enough pressure from the hand screw to hold the work being worked on.P1150619

To increase versatility I added another dimension you might like to use too. I drilled a series of 3/4″ holes through a 3″ by 3″ section I could lodge in the vise. The holes can extend beyond the vise width by a few inches as you can see. The holdfast tightened readily using my Thor 712 with the nylon face best and of course you can use this with any holdfast. Anyway, tap tighten gets quick anchorage and more taps increases pressure or you can just turn the handle. Oh, and you can reverse pressure  by tapping the heel of the holdfast as with the old blacksmithed models or turn the handle.P1150647


  1. Mike Bronosky on 26 November 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Why the need for the screw? I have the same type that Roy Underhill uses. They work great and I would imagine much faster to set and unset.

  2. Gary Blair on 26 November 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Hello Paul,
    And a Happy Thanksgiving from those of us on this side of the pond! In reference to your latest blog entry, I agree. Debris in the dog holes is troublesome. I really like your idea for the timber with dog holes which can be clamped in the vise. Thanks for another great idea!
    Gary Blair
    Lander, Wyoming

  3. sojansson on 26 November 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Dear Mr Sellers,

    When it comes to woodworking you are just b-y brilliant. The piece in the vice is ingenious.


    Sven-Olof Jansson

  4. Kevin Wilkinson on 26 November 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving from Vermont and thank you for this post.

  5. AlanP on 27 November 2015 at 7:40 am

    I bought a couple of holdfasts from Axminster when I built my workbench but have just kept off drilling holes for them because I couldn’t decide how many to do or where to put them plus, of course, your method of using clamps in the vise has meant I’ve hardly found a need for them.
    Drill holes in a piece of 3×3 and clamp it in the vise, I just wish I’d thought of that!

  6. Keith on 27 November 2015 at 8:51 am

    Great idea, thanks.

  7. Stefan on 27 November 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Paul,
    thanks for this advise. I’ve got some similar clamps from Sjöbergs. But I didn’t use them because of missing holes at the right place.
    The idea of drilling holes in a dedicated piece of wood is pretty good. I will try that.

  8. momist on 28 November 2015 at 7:53 pm

    This post put a big grin on my face and a laugh loud enough to prompt my wife to ask what was so funny! You don’t like dog holes in your bench, now I can relate well to that as my current bench has a cupboard full of tools underneath.
    The 3 x 3 in the vice is just genius. I love the way you come up with these apparently random inventions. 🙂 Thank you!

    • Paul Sellers on 28 November 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Hello Ian. Glad I made you laugh.

  9. Keith on 30 November 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Makes me think that having a left and right hand vice might be a good idea. Then a long ~ 3 by 3 could be used across the full length of the bench.

    When I was building my bench I did think about being able to incorporate 2 pairs of cramp heads using 1″ battens. But rejected it has any idea was going to be a waste trap. from a long time ago, i recall someone making 2 sawing trestles. they stached to form one the same height as the workbench. The lower one incorporated in the frame 2 battens that accepted cramp heads for gluing up. It is a long time ago now, never forgotten the idea, but never used it.

    • Paul Sellers on 30 November 2015 at 4:55 pm

      I have a tail vise so I just put a clamp in the vise and catch the end of a 2×4 on edge and that works fine as the distance between the two points is only 3 feet. UK 2×4 rough-sawn is 2″ thick by the way.

  10. Blaž on 17 October 2016 at 11:22 am

    I guess using holdfast in such a way makes sense when you have a workbench with front apron. But if you don’t have an apron you can just use an F clamp and clamp a piece to the bench.

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