Reader, I won! . . . not best of show or anything, but "best concept," I guess because I noticed that a shaving horse and a shop stool have many of the same features. You can read about (and see photos of) the REAL winners at this blog entry by Chris Wong of Flair Woodworks, the organizer of #SSBO. Some of the other entries are very, very well-designed and -executed pieces of genuine furniture. It was humbling to be put in their company.
Turns out, there were real-world prizes! About a week ago, I got an envelope in the mail from Canada:
They're interesting in their differences from both these aluminum dogs I have, and the brass dogs made by another Canadian concern.
The main difference, of course, is that they're wood. They're made of ash, which is one of my very favorite hardwoods. All four of my dogs have the grain running perpendicular to the square face, which reminded me of how we were taught to hold baseball bats when we were kids. Freshly machined, unfinished ash (like these are) has a bright, clean surface that almost gleams, a sort of brightness that oak never seems to have. So my first impression of these guys was very strongly positive.
The next difference is that these lack a longitudinal spring, like almost all bench dogs, round or square, metal or wood, I've ever used have had. Instead, the dogs are held at the height you want by bullet catches. I have no idea how this will play out long term, but really, why wouldn't that work? Unless you hear back from me later, assume it works fine. For now, I can tell that they're slightly easier to adjust than the metal ones.
At first, I thought they must be a smaller diameter than the metal ones, because they're so light, and because they fall down into their hole until they reach the bullet catch. But I got out the digital caliper and saw that, nope, they're the same diameter as the aluminum: a couple of hundredths of an inch under 3/4".
They're also priced at $17.95 for a set of four, which is less than half the price of the Veritas or Rockler metal versions. SOLD. These are my new favorite bench dogs! Or, to put this in the language of a meme from a few weeks back, "WOW! Such Holding! Very Bench!"