More Reasons To Run Out & Get Yourself a DowelMax

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Review by kapanen posted 02-12-2012 03:55 AM 17273 views 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
More Reasons To Run Out & Get Yourself a DowelMax No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

There has been a lot said about the DowelMax doweling jig. I don’t want this to be another review simply stating the same things that have already been said. I want to point out a few more reasons why I believe this joinery system is the best on the market.

We all know that it is a quality device, that makes the joint being preformed easy, accurate and reliable. But I believe a few more (3) reasons need to be pointed out other than those obvious ones.

1. Safety. I don’t know about you, but I don’t where safety glasses using a cordless drill. I am sure the manufacture stresses that one should, but I just don’t, never have and doubt I ever will. There was an incident where I scratched myself pretty good on a brad bit, but other than that, (it bleed for a minute, but I never even put a Band-Aid on it), drilling with a hand held drill is one of the most safe tasks one can do with a power tool.

2. There has been tons mentioned on the quality of the DowelMax, but I don’t believe that says it all. It not only is a very well made tool, but it is one that doesn’t depreciate. It is solid, and I mean solid. It has no motor. There is nothing that will prevent this tool from lasting way past my own life. I have a strong feeling that it will be found at my estate, after I have past, by one of my great grand children, and they won’t have a clue what it is. It will perform the way it does today, 50 years from now and beyond.

3. Lastly, it will hold its value. I guess this ties into the previous argument, but should be noted. Without any depreciation, there is no reason why it shouldn’t bring you the same money tomorrow as it does today. So another words, make sure you sell your DowelMax before they put you in the “home” and one of your great grand children toss it out because they don’t what it is for.

I must be honest, I purchased my DowelMax used off of EBay….I paid darn near as much for it used as new, but it was slightly cheaper. It was a rarity to find it listed, and I am sure that is one reason it sold so high….so many people were bidding on it. It is all but new though, so the savings were true savings…I didn’t sacrifice any “wear and tear” for the cheaper “used” price that I paid.

So to sum things up….

DowelMax performs as advertised, very reliable, strong, repeatable, easy joints. First try with it will result in perfect joints, with little time for a learning curve.

The safety associated with using it, is top notch.
The life expectancy and value of the tool will never depreciate…unlike a biscuit cutter, Domino, or a mortise machine.

The only cons I have with the tool, is its price. But I am one that is happy to pay higher dollars for a tool (or anything for that matter) if it performs like it says, and will NOT break. I am happy to pay an extra $30 for a waffle maker, if I know that waffle maker will be making me perfect waffles 20 years from now. So I believe the cost is justified.

The only thing I wish DowelMax would do is make an additional accessory to allow for 45 degree doweling….without making the jig myself.

Thanks for reading.

I forgot one other argument that should be considered in purchasing this jig. In comparing it to traditional M & T joinery it does save valuable wood. If your joint requires tenons, this jig prevents that expense in your wood. Obviously the dowels have an expense, but they are not as high as exotic woods are.

Seems trivial, but with wood prices always on the rise, not to mention environmental reasons, the Dowel Max makes perfect sense.

Some projects call for several rails, with an inch of stock required on each side. This can equal several board feet by the time things are complete. With all things held constant….(the joints equal in strength) Dowel Max can save that wood…and the money from it as well.

-- "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life"....Pablo Picasso

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15 comments so far

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#1 posted 02-12-2012 11:42 AM

I’ve had one for years..excellent tool and worth every penny.

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343 posts in 4252 days

#2 posted 02-12-2012 02:46 PM

i to also use the dowelmax and wish a lot of other tools were as well made.

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7826 posts in 3610 days

#3 posted 02-12-2012 02:46 PM

That’s a great review! Thanks for posting!

By the way- I once put 1/2” drill bit pretty deep in my hand with a power drill. But safety glasses wouldn’t have helped that!

-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
Blue Collar Woodworking? FINALLY, a woodworking show for us morons! ” -The Hoboken Evening Review

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

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#4 posted 02-12-2012 02:54 PM

I’ve never even handled one myself. By the pictures, though, it looks exceptionally well made. Thanks for reminding me about this device:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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will delaney

329 posts in 3445 days

#5 posted 02-12-2012 04:28 PM

Very little learning curve. Expensive but precision and quality doesn’t come cheep. Good review.

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#6 posted 02-12-2012 07:04 PM

Thank you for a good review that makes some good points.

I mean no disrespect but I will offer another perspective on the DowelMax. I own a DowelMax and a MortisePal and I prefer the MortisePal – even when doing dowel joinery.

One of the templates that comes with the Mortise Pal is designed for dowels. The slot that the router runs in (with the appropriate bushing) is actually a series of 4 holes. You set the router bushing in a hole and plunge the router straight in and out. I probably use my MortisePal for dowel joinery more than I use it for loose tenon joinery. Of course, dowel joinery is really just a type of loose tenon joinery.

You can use various bit diameters without changing the template.

The router “drills” a hole much quicker than a drill can. I use an up-spiral bit and I can “drill” holes in less than 5 seconds. Also, when necessary, you can “drill” a hole that is actually a short slot that allows for wood movement.

I can only think of one situation where I would prefer the DowelMax to the MortisePal – extra deep holes. The router (without a special bit) can only go about 1.25” deep. A DowelMax with a drill bit can go much deeper. 99% of the time, 1.25” is enough.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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770 posts in 3666 days

#7 posted 02-12-2012 08:43 PM

Thanks for the revew.

I looked at the Dowel Max last year when I needed a jig for a project. The price was a bit steep for something I would use every so often. I ended up geting the Jessem doweling jig instead. They are both similar in how they work

I would say if you plan to use dowels a lot and have the coin it would be a good tool.

One thing I did notice is once you have a good quality doweling jig it opens up a lot of possibilities. I use the mortising machine less now because of the ease and accuracy. M&T joints for high stress areas still rule, but many times dowels are just as good and quick.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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123 posts in 3712 days

#8 posted 02-14-2012 03:18 AM

Hi kap,

Have to agree with you about Dowelmax. Had one about 7 or 8 years now It is the go to tool compared the mortise machine, Easy setup and quiet compared to a router and mortise pal.
Don’t really think strength is compromised with the dowels over a mortise in 90% plus of the places where you would use a mortise. I think to biggest stumbling block for most people is the price and the fact that they have memories of other way less effective doweling jigs. My father had a Stanley jig with replaceable inserts and you drilled one hole per set up and had to move the jig. The real beauty of Dowelmax is multi holes and very simple set-up for doing reveal type set-in’s for table legs and cords.
Can’t say enough good thing about it.
Great review, we just have to work on the rest of the unwashed.

Thanks jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

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203 posts in 4574 days

#9 posted 02-15-2012 12:15 AM

Kapanen, thank you for your great review.

If have read a lot about the Dowelmax on Internet and magazines and I saw a
couple off videos, but I heard, almost, no great minus points about this beautiful tool.
The Dowelmax is not only a nice tool to look at, but it is also very accurate.
I have tried the Festool Domino and the Biscuit Joiner, but for my situation,
I’m handicapped, I think (hope) that the Dowelmax is a ideal piece off tool for me, .
The Powermax has in my eyes only one minus point and that is unfortunately the price.
But I keep hopping that one day the Powermax is coming to the Netherlands, I’m already saving :-)


-- Greetings from the Netherlands.

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#10 posted 05-10-2012 04:53 PM

Thanks for the review.
When I needed a dowel jig for my project, I spent a lot of time on researching. DowelMax and Jessem are the best in the market. They are very familiar design and both work great. Finally I picked up Jessem because 1) it is more flexiable to adjust, 2) it is $100+ cheaper, 3) it built like a tank

View Chuck's profile


2 posts in 3000 days

#11 posted 05-29-2012 07:36 PM

The Dowel Max from what I’ve seen isn’t self-centering. As I see it the holes can be set at fixed distances from the edge of board depending on the spacers used. If the spacers provided won’t put the holes where wanted
it shouldn’t be to difficult to make extra spacers. Looks well made though and I like using dowels.

-- At my age (58) I'm less impressed with myself when I do something right and less disgusted when I do something totally stupid.

View a1Jim's profile


118104 posts in 4387 days

#12 posted 05-29-2012 08:00 PM

Thanks for your review it looks like a good tool but I could never see myself spending $300 plus on a doweling jig since I seldom use dowels for joinery. I guess I would have to use one to compare but for the price difference of other self centering dowel jigs ($60 or less)it would have to be one great jig.


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121 posts in 3591 days

#13 posted 05-29-2012 09:17 PM

The jig will place the dowels in the center of the stock, or it gives the flexibility to place them off center. The main thing here is that the dowels match. It they are a degree off from center, but match perfectly, and the joint is without any gabs, and smooth to the touch, it should not matter.

It doesn’t need any measuring, which I know from my personal experience is the hardest thing to do, next to running the table on good game of 8 ball.

-- "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life"....Pablo Picasso

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#14 posted 05-29-2012 09:42 PM

If you say it’s accurate that’s good enough for me. All of us invest in the items we feel will help us do what we want to do in our shop or business . If this jig works well for those folks who like dowels I say go for it. But as for me I rarely use dowels perhaps for the exact reason you stated here” alignment ” and the other reason is strength I just don’t think Dowels are strong enough for some jobs. Who know a week or month from now I might feel completely different about it and will be searching for your great review. :))


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121 posts in 3591 days

#15 posted 08-10-2012 10:41 PM

Another “selling” point came to mind. The DowelMax takes up practically no room in my very limited shop…or should I be honest and say garage. I decided to make a nice plywood box for it, (used dowels) and I store it there on top of a shelf. Space is a luxury that many of us “hobbyist” have to contend with.

-- "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life"....Pablo Picasso

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