DowelMax precision dowel jig

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Review by Sawdust2 posted 03-21-2008 01:49 PM 16684 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
DowelMax precision dowel jig DowelMax precision dowel jig DowelMax precision dowel jig Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’m making a Futon Sofa Bed for my grandson. While cutting the parts I was 1” short on the upper and lower rails for the end pieces. The difference was merely the tenons, not the space between the stiles. So I called Gil, my friend with the trusty DowelMax, and we took advantage of an alternate way to fasten the pieces.

The DowelMax is finely engineered. You can use it to install any number of dowels in various arrangements. The video that is available gives a great tutorial on how to use it. The only limitation we could find is that the thickness of the wood must be in 1/4” increments. I suppose you could use shims for other thicknesses but it would not be as precise as the milled aluminum shims provided.

In my case we needed to offset the rail 1/4” from the stile. Not a problem. We centered the dowels on the rail and then registered the outside of each piece. Just playing around with the tool we decided, using the Americanism “If one’s good, two’s better” to maximize the number of dowels we used in each rail, the bottom rail being 1” wider than the top rail.

The DowelMax comes with a 3/8”bit and the guides have very little tolerance. You must insert the bit into the guide before you activate the drill motor or you are going to etch the guide. (Unless you have nerves of steel and better hand-eye coordination than this old man.)

The system seems to work best if you slow down the drill speed as you are pulling the bit from the guide. And it also helps to clear the grooves in the bit before you start on the next hole.

Not my tool so I don’t have the exact price but it was in the hundred’s of dollars. Absolute money back guarantee. The owner/designer seems to enjoy talking with his customers and is as helpful as can be.

I’ve used 3-4 different dowel jigs and this is, without a doubt, the most precise and best engineered dowel jig I have ever seen. I was absolutely confident that the pieces would fit together as planned. They did.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4974 days

16 comments so far

View BarryW's profile


1016 posts in 4793 days

#1 posted 03-21-2008 02:52 PM

I don’t have a dowel jig at the moment…you’ve sold me.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 4752 days

#2 posted 03-21-2008 03:07 PM

Sounds awesome. I haven’t had the pleasure of using a doweling jig before. I had to do some without once and that is hell. I think I spring for the headache proof version you’ve suggested.

-- He said wood...

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4631 days

#3 posted 03-21-2008 04:01 PM

I have one of these, made by a different manufacturer. It has a screw adjustment, so it works on any thickness of wood, self centering. I think I got it from Grizzly. I use mine all the time for drilling peg holes in the sides of table tops. Great little tool.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4875 days

#4 posted 03-21-2008 04:22 PM

Great review. I’ll have to look into one of these.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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John Gray

2370 posts in 4772 days

#5 posted 03-21-2008 06:08 PM

Thanks for the post! Your grandson should be happy as the wood is beautiful, couldn’t buy one that nice at the store.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4761 days

#6 posted 03-21-2008 06:18 PM

DowelMax is near the top of my “must have” list.

View Phildo92027's profile


54 posts in 4686 days

#7 posted 03-22-2008 03:27 AM

I have both a horizontal boring machine and the DowelMAX. If I have to dowel 1/4 or 3/8” material my FIRST choice is the DowelMAX. The accuracy and repeatability of the tool is “spot on”. The is the only choice for a home workshop doweling solution. Not cheap, but worth it!! I have made additional spacers to allow for various setbacks from the edge as well as flush.

-- Phil, Near San Diego, CA

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4952 days

#8 posted 03-22-2008 05:16 AM

Nice review Lee. I seem to recall MsDebbie singing the praises of the Dowel Max as well. I guess I’ll to put it back on the front burner and give it another look. Something about M&T joints just scare me. Dowel Max might be my best bet.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Tony's profile


21 posts in 4604 days

#9 posted 03-22-2008 12:34 PM

When my Dowel Max came I was too impatient to read the printed instructions. I relied on my memory of the internet demo. I drill 5 holes in each piece, inserted the dowels and squeezed all together by hand. It was flush all around! There was no need for the dead blow hammer. I built a work bench with it. Ten dowels per joint, 4 joints per leg set. These 40 dowels all lined up. As with a joints, your lumbers must be jointed and cut square. I’m now working on a cabinet for the bench.

-- Tony, Sacramento

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5056 days

#10 posted 03-22-2008 01:38 PM

I have a DowelMax. Love it.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5047 days

#11 posted 03-22-2008 02:13 PM

not sure what the thickness issue is. You can adjust the tool in so many different ways.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4974 days

#12 posted 03-22-2008 03:12 PM

MsDebbieP it could be that we have used it so little we have yet to discover all that it can do.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4685 days

#13 posted 03-23-2008 12:21 AM

nice review. I also hear that they are great.

-- making sawdust....

View Douglas Krueger's profile

Douglas Krueger

420 posts in 4610 days

#14 posted 05-19-2008 02:36 AM

Now that I have had my Dmax for a couple of months and put it thru some of its paces on several projects and the verdict is that this is a tool that lives up to its advertised capabilities. when used as instructed the dowels match up perfectly each and every time, the times that it doesn’t will always be a ‘duuuuh’ moment. The precision of fabrication and the quality of the metals is top notch. The learning curve is almost none existent as the DVD and book are very easy to comprehend and follow even for a ‘learning’ challenged person such as myself.

It even works in a ‘freehand’ mode, I used it to place a pivoting dowel in a round knoib for a rotating spice cabinet latch and it worked perfectly after doing a little rasping on the dowel to give it free movement in the hole. It has also been used for a ‘thru dowel’ allowing the dowel ends to show and creating an exposed dowel. I have shipped in some cherry, oak and walnut doweling that is used in these applications and use this as a filler plug on top of the ‘real’ dowel to give the desired look.

A couple of things to know, the bit will clog up rather easily and it may take 2 or 3 passes to get to the correct depth. Take time to adjust the hole depths (via the drill bit collar) especially when drilling thru the thickness of a board of 1 inch or less.

The 1/4” dowelling system is well worth the money and allows for some much thinner board applications.

All in all I would definitely buy this tool again and only regret that quality and accurately sized dowels are hard to find in Thailand so I have purchased a LN dowel plate to fine tune the ‘iffy’ dowels purchased here.

It has made assembly a breeze and is definitely a tool that will live beyond my years on the planet. It has gained my respect and I even designed and built a box to house all the various parts (can be viewed in my home page projects)

-- I can so I wood but why are my learning curves always circles

View johnzo's profile


86 posts in 3682 days

#15 posted 10-20-2010 05:29 PM

Have had my DM for about 6 months and have to say it is actually worth the steep price. You get what you pay for! I bought a hollow chisel mortise machine a few months earlier, and since getting the Dowelmax, it’s gathering dust. The DM is so much faster, easier and more accurate. Absolutely No Contest! You absolutely NEED to buy one of these!
John Z

-- 70 is the new 50!

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