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How do I drill straight dog holes in my workbench?

To avoid overheating and clogging the bit, clear the chips often as you drill the dogholes through the benchtop.


I’ve nearly completed my new workbench, but I still need to drill dogholes. Obviously the bulky top won’t fit on my drill press. So how do I make sure that the holes are straight and clean?
—Jonathan Creech, La Grange, Calif.


Even if you can’t take the drill press to the workbench, Jonathan, you can take its accuracy by creating a drilling guide for your handheld drill. Square up a 2×4 and machine it down to 138  ×214  ". Crosscut it to the width of the bench in which you’d like to drill the holes. Mark the doghole locations, centered, on the edge of the board, and use your square to transfer the centers of the outermost dogholes around the sides and end of the board. Now use a 34 " Forstner bit in your drill press to drill the holes through the drill guide, backing the bit out regularly to clear the chips. 

Mark the row of dogholes on your bench aligning the mark with the dog on your bench’s vise. Draw a crosshatch to locate the first hole. Then position the drilling guide’s alignment marks with those on the bench. Clamp the guide in place along with a backer board to prevent tear-out on the bottom of the bench. 

Now use a 34 " brad-point guided by the holes in the drill guide to drill through the workbench. After completing the holes, rout a small chamfer around the lip of each one to eliminate sharp corners.

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