Flexible and accurate dowel work.

  • Advertise with us
Review by vipond33 posted 02-18-2013 10:17 PM 5740 views 9 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
 Flexible and accurate dowel work. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’m quite enamored of dowels as joinery, especially in cabinet construction. Fast, accurate and plenty strong enough if used with good technique, tooling and materials, they also allow me flexibility in appearance of the finished case without too much fuss.

However, I do not own a doweling jig. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a Dowel Max, but with all its accessories to be more costly than the price of a used motorcycle, well, no thanks. Besides, all doweling jigs are somewhat limited in their scope. Using bushings I can do anything they can, albeit somewhat slower because of the setup time. As hobbyists though, we have a fair bit of free time.

Having said that, once you’re set it is faster than any commercial jig, especially when doing multiples.

In use:
Cabinet end frame

Cabinet bottom

Short apron for cabinet stand


At work, setting up to drill for a mitred & doweled joint in a 20” wide solid wood credenza.


A tip if using them for bi-directional drilling. Tighten the insert into the bushing with two pairs of pliers, for any binding of the drill working from the opposite side, or even reversing to clear the muff will cause the insert to unwind.


I use 3/4” MDF for my jig pieces as it allows accuracy without splitting when the bushings are driven in (I usually use a clamp or a vise to be sure of a perpendicular alignment). When a row of bushings is needed close to an edge they are inserted in a much wider piece (to avoid bulging and breakage) and then the strip is trimmed on the saw

When extreme angular accuracy is required you may double up the bushings inline on a thicker piece of wood. Holding a drill exactly square in both directions takes some practice.

Lee Valley markets these bushings primarily for hardware installations and they are great for those things as well. They are probably available from many other sources though I haven’t checked.
A full range of sizes.

Up close and personal with my 3/8” favourite.


Reasonably priced and well made in usa, by non outsourced usan’s.
So six stars for the high quality and low price sweet spot.


-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3265 days

10 comments so far

View madts's profile


1941 posts in 3108 days

#1 posted 02-18-2013 10:34 PM

I agree. Dowels are misunderstood apart from the cabinet industry, where point to point CNC machines are used. But jigs like yours do the same job, at a slower pace.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View gbear's profile


531 posts in 4867 days

#2 posted 02-18-2013 10:37 PM

This is a great idea…one I will probably adopt.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View JL7's profile


8773 posts in 3733 days

#3 posted 02-18-2013 10:38 PM

Great review Gene…...didn’t even know these were available….Lee Valley has so many little gems hiding about….

I’ll be putting some of these in cart with my next trip….......thanks.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View PASs's profile


600 posts in 3866 days

#4 posted 02-18-2013 10:58 PM

thanks for the post.
I still have the dowel centers I got 25 years ago….drill the hole, put the center in, press the mating board together, drill the matching hole.
Made a massive entertainment center using dowels as the joinery with those centers.
But these look better for drilling the holes.
on the favorites list !!!

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View steve's profile


363 posts in 2761 days

#5 posted 02-18-2013 11:06 PM


-- steve/USA

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2822 days

#6 posted 02-19-2013 12:06 AM

thanks for the review.

-- Joel

View DocSavage45's profile


8956 posts in 3610 days

#7 posted 02-19-2013 03:12 AM


Your photos are great. What kind of camera? Nice review too!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View SPalm's profile


5335 posts in 4650 days

#8 posted 02-19-2013 02:23 PM

Great idea. I have used many dowels with varying results.
It looks like these little puppies would solve some of the problems. Hmmm.

Thanks for the tip,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Paul Stoops's profile

Paul Stoops

357 posts in 3329 days

#9 posted 02-19-2013 05:15 PM

Good review! I have several sets of these bushings and liners. The liners press fit nicely into 5/8” holes just squeezing them in with a bench vise. The smooth surface at the end of the liner does a good job of piloting the liner into the hole and keeping it aligned when inserting.
These drill bushings are much lower cost than standard slip fit or press fit drill bushings. I wish they offered a wider range of sizes, tho. I have used these parts to make several drill jigs for various projects. A great value.

I have also used the Veritas Optical Center Punch (,180,42311) in conjunction with a 5/16” bushing to accurately align a drill jig with a hole layout pattern. A great combination for precision work!

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

View Thomas Hanson's profile

Thomas Hanson

46 posts in 2720 days

#10 posted 02-25-2013 11:45 PM

It took me 5 minutes to realize you weren’t trying to make dowels but merely drill for them. This is definitely the way to do it.

-- Okie from Council Hill

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics