Working on the "artisan" shop table

I’m planning to gradually make some improvements to the sjobergs table by the tool wall. Haven’t started yet, but here are the things I’d like to do. Please let me know if anyone objects to these actions, or if anyone would like to help. I’ll keep this thread updated as things progress.

  1. Fix the table to the base. It slides around all the time.
    I haven’t looked closely to see if this would be better done by mortising the legs into the top, or to just use some metal brackets.
  2. Clear out the scraps and whatnot in the storage under the table, and build at least a bench hook and a shooting board to keep there for general use.
  3. Fill in all the dogholes that don’t go all the way through the table, and maybe even all the ones not around the edges of the table.
    The reason for this is that if you’re doing any sort of hand tool work on the table, all of those dogholes very quickly fill in with shavings, sawdust, etc. that’s impossible to scrape out of the bottom, so you can’t even get the bench dog to sit firmly in them. Every hand-tool woodworking table I’ve used and seen only has circular dog holes, and only around the edges.
    I am planning to do this by taking some cheaper hardwood like poplar, thicknessing it, and cutting it into pieces with a slight taper that will tenon into the holes with enough space for a little glue but a solid seal on the top.
    2a) eventually, fill in the ones around the outer edges too, and drill 3/4" circular dog holes instead. This way we can get a holdfast and use standard dogs.
  4. Plane, sand, and finish with something tough and glue-resistant. Waterlox was my first thought.
  5. Eventually I’d like to build a quick-release single-screw vise for the front of the table.
  6. There was also some discussion of having a removable MDF cover for this table, I assume for glue-ups and chopping. IMO if we have a glue-resistant finish like Waterlox and usable bench hooks, this shouldn’t be necessary.

Do NOT fill ANY of the dogholes, they have a purpose. Do not put a finish on the top, it does not require any and it will only degrade with use, and ultimately contaminate/mar projects. An MDF cover is a bad idea, unless it fits over the top and is easily lifted off.

Peace, Wolf

Hi Wolf,

Thanks for the response! That’s why I wanted to post well before I started doing anything, to get any objections. I won’t fill the dogholes.

What do you use the central, non-through dogholes for? And do you prefer the rectangular ones for some reason?

As for finishing, the task was suggested here: Small tasks with big impact ANYONE can do (2020 Oct) I don’t insist on a finish either, but it seemed like something others wanted.

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There were several handmade, square dogs in a couple of different lengths.
Sadly, most if not all of the dogs, have been pilfered or lost. Before the “situation” there were two still kicking around.
I believe, Flip is the owner/builder, he might have more insight, on the dogs, etc…


Yeah, there’s still two metal dogs, but my point was

a) not all the dogholes go all the way through the table, and those that don’t aren’t are sadly unusable
b) square dogholes can’t hold a holdfast.

Would love to talk to the owner as well, I’ve basically only talked to Eric about this so far.

The bench hook and shooting board would be really helpful additions. As far as I understand, Sjoberg holes that don’t pass all the way through are intended for the slightly longer dogs to seat at the bottom. Them filling up with shavings is a good point though, I’m not sure how to address that besides sticking a vac in there.

Square dogholes may actually be more useful in the Hackerspace since normal bench dogs are likely to disappear. That makes the scrap pile a handy source of diy bench dogs if needed! My personal preference is round, but typically nobody is walking off with my dogs at home.

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So have people…just stolen the dogs in the past? That sucks, and is kind of surprising given that there’s all sorts of fancier things lying around.

Larry donated that table. Just some history on it

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Couldn’t tell ya, seems likely that they’re just easy to lose or accidentally pocket being as small as they are.

So far, there’s been opposition to touching the dogholes in any way, and to sanding/refinishing the table.

The refinishing task was suggested by @mrflip in this thread here: Small tasks with big impact ANYONE can do (2020 Oct), so I’m happy to go either way but would appreciate if @LoboFPV would be willing to talk that over with Flip. (Personally I don’t think it needs a refinishing, unless there’s a need to make it glue-proof, but it could be made prettier if we wanted…)

Re: the dogholes, I still don’t understand the user of the ones that don’t bottom through, and I promise not to touch them without everyone being on board but IMO they’re annoying, they make it impossible to properly clean the table after use, and I don’t see what value they add beyond the ones that do go all the way through.

Sounds like no one is opposed to

  • fixing the top to the legs,
  • clearing out the storage space beneath, getting a bench hook, shooting board, saw guide, etc whatever
  • a one-screw vise.

Hey @gmossessian Thanks the table has needed some tlc. I was wondering why a one screw vise vs the one that is there? The current is a fancy vise

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Hey @JoeN, so the current one has some issues and I’m planning on giving it some tlc as well. I was thinking of a smaller, quick-release vise in addition to the current one, not instead of.

Part of the reason is selfish… I think it would be fun to make a vise from scratch.

Another part of the reason is that due to the way the current one is installed, it has some issues. It gets out of alignment very easily along both axes of the plane of its face. To get it back into left-right alignment (unless you want to manually adjust both screws, which defeats the whole point of it being such a fancy vise) means taking off the chain plate, loosening the set screws, realigning, and putting it back together again. I wind up doing this pretty much at the start of every session I’m on the table. Some of this could probably be fixed with a bicycle chain tensioner (as recommended by Veritas in their user manual for the vise), and I’d like to try, but I’m not sure. It looks like the backs of the screws have a bit too much relief / freeplay, which causes the up-down racking. I was going to see if I could attach some guides to the bottom of the table as well, but didn’t think it work mentioning.

Finally, the twin-screw Veritas vise has no quick release feature. Which means it’s really great for holding a big piece of wood for a long time quite firmly, but if I need to have a board face showing, then realize I need it to hold my sharpening stone, then need to switch to end grain, then have to adjust it so I can saw off a piece with minimal chatter, etc, it gets to be a bit of a pain.

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Ahh got it. All good points.

Wolf objected to changing out the square dog holes for round ones; I don’t think there’s anybody who has a strong preference for them not to be through-holes.

I can’t imagine there’s any benefit to closing off the bottoms, especially a benefit that’s worth the PITA of cleaning them out all the time.

Anybody disagree?

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I have no objections to boring out the dogholes, as long as it is done properly. Maybe ask Flip why he made them that way. The trick with boring them out, is keeping them square and side parallel.
I am fine with another vise, Adam Savage, did a one day build, a while ago, it has an interesting quick release feature.
The twin screw vise, should not be such an issue, I never bothered with the slop issue, since it is not mine. Once the slop is addressed, there should be no reason why you can’t use one hand to operate it, quickly and easily.

Peace, Wolf

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Thanks for the clarification, @LoboFPV. I’ll take a closer look at being able to bore them out fully, I suspect for some of the central ones the table shelving gets in the way.

The reason the twin screw vise gets sloppy is because of low chain tension, which causes the chain to skip a gear occasionally, so it gradually gets more and more out of skew. The chain is a bit too long, but not so long that a link can be removed. You’ll get the exact same issue on a road bike if the rear derailleur isn’t tensioning properly. It’s on my list to get a cheap tensioner and try with that.

Having some late nights at work this week, but first order of business will be affixing the top to the base, in a way that’s easily removable in case anyone wants to do any work on the base or the underside (such as chopping those dogholes through…)

I’m just spitballing here, but does it sound reasonable to extend the square dogholes through the surface with round holes in their bottoms? If we use something like an auger bit I’d expect minimum-to-no damage to the square holes.

Maybe that’d be sufficient to solve the filling-up-with-junk problem?

How thick is the table? I have a set of auger bits, but I don’t think my extension will fit in the square hole without chewing it up.

Yeah, I could tell there was slop in the chain, funny that the manufacturer had not taken this into consideration. The tensioner, will need to be adjustable, but at the same time, not able to move once properly tensioned. A simple idler wheel, on a plate that has a fixed pivot and a screw/fastener that will lock the desired position.


That’s … an interesting idea! Definitely could try it with one, and see if it’ll hold a holdfast.

Still having kind of a hellish week at work but should be back in the shop next week, I’ll take some measurements and report back in this thread.

RE: Shooting Board

Rex Krueger recently had a video on shooting boards that has the neat idea of attaching a temporary fence in front of a permanent fence. The temp fence has simple adjusters for when it gets out of square. This might be useful for the shop since the fences will probably get knocked around or eaten up quickly.

For my own work I use my shooting board as a bench hook, but that’s probably not a great idea for the shop and it might even be a good idea to have some kind of “do not saw” label on the former.

Lastly, an extra vise would be awesome if someone is willing to build it. The Veritas twin screw is great for some applications, but 90% of the time a normal leg or face vise would be so much more convenient.