First, use some petroleum distillate to remove the petroleum based rust inhibitor.
Second, use some 80 grit sandpaper to give them a little "tooth." rub it around the shaft, not up and down.
Third, let them develop just a little surface rust, to further augment the "tooth". Normal use should keep the corrosion within reasonable limits.
You don't mention what material your bench top is made from, nor the weight of your mallet. You haven't applied wax or a finish to the inside of your dog holes, have you?
If you are using a dense (especially an oily tropical) hardwood, your dog holes may be too long. For example, my Gramercy holdfasts hold just fine 1-7/8" hard maple and in 1-1/4" white oak. If your bench top is too thick, you might want to remove some material from the bottoms of the dog holes by boring them out to a larger diameter until their effective length is a bit less than three inches. But, please, experiment first on some scrap of the same type of wood you built your top from.
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- HoldFasts from LV not Holding