An Old Master

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Review by DannyBoy posted 01-08-2009 07:00 PM 10286 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
An Old Master An Old Master No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I happened across a suggestion for this jig in a modern day Arts and Crafts furniture book. I was surprised that I found an old tool like this suggested there since usually books like that are full of merchandise someone paid to have put in there.

Anyway, I found one on Ebay and paid about $32 with shipping to have it in my hands. Then, I stuck it in a drawer. And it got covered in dust. Then it was shoved to the back of the drawer to make room for some inferior Craftsman screw drivers. Then I almost forgot about it.

Well, last night I finally got up the thought to use it. This is the kind of tool that makes you wonder what the heck happened to American tool makers. The jig is simple to figure out with or without instructions. All of the pieces are very specifically crafted. The guide for the drill bit is generously long. In short, I love this tool!

One piece of advice if you use this: This was meant to be used with hand powered tools. I attempted to use a drill with a Dewault 3/8” bit (which I also like) and it wasn’t pretty. The torque rips the guide tube up and way from the work piece. Luckily, I had a brace and bit with a 3/8” (#6) augur bit. I put that in and it worked perfectly.

  • Heavy duty constructions
  • Large clamp space for different sized boards
  • Easily aligned markings
  • Rules and guages are stamped into the metal
  • Not good with power tools (this may be a pro if you are the right person)
  • No guide for the adjoining hole

If you are lucky enough to have one of these, then use it. If not, there are a few of them around on ebay and garage sales. Don’t pass this one up!


-- He said wood...

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 4638 days

4 comments so far

View ChesapeakeBob's profile


368 posts in 4256 days

#1 posted 01-09-2009 01:45 AM

Danny, great tool and great review. Thanks. Chesapeake Bob

-- Chesapeake Bob, Southern Maryland

View Tom Landon's profile

Tom Landon

69 posts in 4525 days

#2 posted 01-09-2009 02:05 AM

I have never had a problem using mine with twist bits or a powered drill motor. Actually the faster the twist bit turns the cleaner the hole. There were two Drill bit “stops” supplied with the doweling jig over the years. I suspect you may be trying to use the auger bit stop with a twist bit and that might explain why you had better luck with an auger. (I just looked back at your photos an note you do have the bit stop designed for use with twist bits in both pictures.)

To use the jig, lay the boards flat on the bench and make a tick mark across the joints where you want the dowels. On the jig there is an index mark that you line up with the tick mark prior to clamping it tight. When you finish drilling the first hole to a depth half the length of the dowel (plus 1/8th or so) you reposition the jig on the other board an repeat the forementioned steps. Add glue, drive the dowel home, position the mating piece over the other end of the exposed dowel and clamp it tight. The only caution would be to not use to much glue since that might prevent the dowel from seating all the way in. I have actually seen the wood split near the ends of a board from the hydraulic pressure created by trying to compress the glue as a liquid. To apply the glue in the holes I find the best applicator to be two pipe cleaners folded over each other in the middle.

Haven’t used to many dowels since biscuit jointers came out since the biscuit holes are so much faster to index and drill. Dowels still have their uses yet, especially when repairing older furniture.

-- Tom Landon, Lakeland, Fl. When you're through learning, you're through.

View Tim Dorcas's profile

Tim Dorcas

188 posts in 4631 days

#3 posted 01-15-2009 08:12 AM

I bought this on E-bay to help fix my Father-in-law’s chair for $25. The intention was to resell it when we were done. This doweling jig has found a permanent spot in my shop. It’s incredibly easy to use and works along side my Dowelmax. I have to disagree about the power tool portion however. I use mine with my electric drill every time without incident.

Nice review!

-- - A Woodworking & Renovation Blog & - I make. You buy.

View mamell's profile


55 posts in 1657 days

#4 posted 03-14-2018 11:04 PM

I’ve been using my old #59 with a battery powered drill for some time with no problems at all and paid $8± around $3 for the postage. The only drawback I’ve found so far is the little alignment notch at the top isn’t quite as precise as I would like so I kind of eyeball the center of the 1/32nd notch and everything comes out good..
One other thing that sometimes annoys me is you can only drill one hole at a time before resetting the notch with your markings which isn’t really that big of a deal unless you’re drilling out 64 different holes for a bunch of dowels. I recently built an auxiliary bench with 1/2” dowels .. 3 pins per stretcher and 12 separate stretchers for a total of 144 holes drilled.. That was time consuming, but it all came out nice and square..That 1/2” bit is a tad dull now, but it got the job done and the bench is rock solid.
Well worth the 11 smackaroonies..
Oh, and one other issue easy to fix is the end of the hold down tightening piece has a steel crosshatch surface that can mar your wood pieces so I glued a thin piece of <8th inch material to it with a bit of epoxy.. Problem solved..

-- Never underestimate the power of the history of sliced bread. Sliced bread is still the greatest thing since sliced bread.

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