Multi-Functional tables can really live up to their name. Useful for cutting, work holding, assembly, clamping tasks, and more, there are a wide variety of uses for one of these tables in your workshop.
In this post I’ll provide a whirlwind tour of the different accessories that you can use.
The Magical 2096 System
The so-called 2096 system describes a series of 20mm dog holes spaced 96mm apart, center to center.
This 96mm measure is commonly used in Europe for cabinet design. For example, shelf pins are typically spaced 32mm apart. Apparently after World War 2 they needed a standard for mass-producing all the kitchen cabinets needed as part of rebuilding efforts. As they built up the factories, the most readily available commercial helical gears had shafts on 32mm centers. This led to the standard we have today.
The most obvious use of a top full of holes is to fill them with work stops! Enter the bench dog, the basic building block of many of the tools and jigs used on this type of work bench. Your basic bench dog has a ~19.9mm shaft that slots into the table, and some type of collar that stops it falling through the table.
Pictured here are three different brands that fulfill different needs.
On the left are UJK Parf Dogs, in 12mm and 50mm lengths. I like these because they are available in pairs and both ends can be used in the bench holes.
Shown in the center are a variety of different Woodpecker dogs in various heights. They came with different kits I’ve purchased over the years, and unfortunately you can’t buy them separately.
Lastly, on the right, there’s a set of dogs from Right Angle Design. These are made from acetal plastic (trade name Delrin), which makes them easy to modify. I expanded the hole on one of these so I could mount a lamp on my table.
Bench dog holes can be designed with a 45° chamfer, to make bench dog insertion a bit easier. Chamfers at the top of the work surface can also allows specially shaped bench dogs to sit flush in the hole but not fall through. Anchor dogs feature small collar that fits into the chamfer, keeping them flush to the table. To make use of these, there’s a a threaded hole that allow them to be fastened to a jig, in this case an M6 thread.
Buy UJK via Axminster – $12.00 for 2
Another useful bench dog simply raises material off the table. This reduces the chances of scratching a project you’re working on, or cutting into your MFT table surface.
Buy via Benchdogs UK – $18.64 for 8
There are a variety of different straightedges that you can then mount on to a bench dog, creating a fence or work stop. These accessories allow you to square up material during assembly or support a piece that you are machining, such as adding a Domino mortise.
Buy Armor-Tool via Amazon – $25.99
Woodpeckers’ Deluxe bench dog kit included a fence that sits on top of their 1/8″ dogs to create fence that can support the material you are working on. Unfortunately this was a OneTimeTool and so ut is not currently available.
A straight edge is very useful, but when you need to hold work materials firmly in place, you need a way wedge the material in place. Top-down clamps are useful, but what if you want to work on the entire surface of your workpiece?
Woodpeckers sells a very comprehensive 2096-compatible system for holding boards other such project materials. It consists of a range of different pieces that are held in place with bench dogs and wedges that grip the material from its side.
Buy Now via Woodpeckers – $299.99
A cheaper alternative is the UJK Cam Clamps. These feature an off-center hole that increases clamping pressure on your workpiece when rotated, and they need to be paired with fences and wedges to accommodate different material dimensions.
Buy UJK via Axminster – $11.00 for 2
Bench Cookies are a staple of any workshop, and when coupled with a Bench Dog it keeps the cookie in a fixed position on the table. Not only do they grip the material, making sanding easier, they also raise the material giving clearance for cutting.
Rockler offers a couple of different options that include a 3/4″ bench dog. I 3D-printed some 19.9mm dogs so they fit more tightly into the hole. Benjamen has a clever riser design on Thingiverse that allows you to raise the cookie above the table.
Buy Now via Rockler – $11.99 for 4
The primary function, or at least the most popular use for the Festool MFT is cutting boards and sheet goods using a track saw. With just three bench dogs you can quickly make a 90° cut.
This method isn’t limited to square cuts, but can also be used to cut different angles by placing the dogs in different holes. A 45° cut is easy to figure out, but with the right maths it can be used for various different angles.
A simple improvement to this cutting method is a clip that holds track saw track firmly against a bench dog. Shown here is the UJK Parf Dog Rail Clip.
Buy UJK via Axminster Tools – $11.00 for a pair
You can also opt for Veritas stainless steel “Parf Dogs” from Lee Valley and their distributors.
If you are making repeated cuts and different angles, there are squares that mount into bench dogs that give you infinite flexibility. The MTR-18 Precision System Triangle Set from TSO Products mounts on two bench dogs and allows you to cut precisely at any angle.
Buy via TSO Products – $445
Sacrificial Fences and Wings
Another useful accessory is a sacrificial fence. In this example, I used 1575 Faztek aluminium extrusion, fastened a strip of MDF on top, and mount some 3D printed bench dogs. This allows me to freely cut into the surface, keeping my Formica bench free of cuts. I use these when I am breaking down a sheet before the pieces are a manageable size.
My DIY fences also expands the size of my working area by supporting materials hanging over the edge of the table. This is particularly handy for clamping.
Bench dog holes can also be used for clamping, and there’s plenty of different clamps to choose from. Not only does the Bessey Ratchet Clamp slots into track of a track saw, it can also be used to hold projects down.
A bench top equipped with a 2096 hole system can be very versatile, with broad capabilities that can really expand your ability to work on different phases of a project.
Given that the system is metric, there’s a lot of innovation coming from European brands. As a result this post does includes links to a few companies in the UK, don’t be put off by this option, as shipping from the UK can be cheaper than ground shipping within the USA. We also have plenty of European readers, and so I’m sure they will appreciate the links to a local company for a change.
I hope this has opened the Pandora’s box of options available to you.