using dowels for headboard

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Forum topic by SmallSnailsRule posted 01-25-2017 05:14 PM 830 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 901 days

01-25-2017 05:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak dowel joint headboard

Alrighty, my project is to build a full bed using oak, but im starting with the headboard.

im wanting to make this headboard without using any kind of screw or nail.

ive created a mock up with pine, seems to hold fine even without the glue. (ill be using woodglue in the project and will include a photo of my mock up)

essentially the headboard legs are 2 1×4 “s 60 inches high with the lateral boards for the headboard held between, so its….3/4×3 thick, or 2 1/4”.

my “joint” for holding these 3 layers together are 2 per side of the lateral boards, 3/4” dowels through the face of the boards, then i cross drill 1/4” hole in the top and bottom board and through the 3/4 dowel and then glue in a 1/4 dowel to provide extra security from the boards seperating.

if the 1’s below were my boards and there was the 3/4 dowel going down through all three the—- are where the 1/4” dowels are.

-1- 1

now i havent really seen this in my internet searches and wanted ton know if folks think itll hold up for a headboard.

oh also what would be a good wood to use for the dowels? i was thinking maple

5 replies so far

View Rich's profile


4541 posts in 1004 days

#1 posted 01-25-2017 05:40 PM

I’m having trouble following. Are you saying that the rails (lateral boards) are going to be sandwiched between two leg pieces? Then I assume you are talking about doweling through that face and having the dowels exposed on the face.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View Woodknack's profile


12842 posts in 2795 days

#2 posted 01-25-2017 06:31 PM

I have a vague idea of what you are doing but a pic of your mock-up would help. I use dowels for pinning miters, pinning tenons, reinforcing butt joints in boxes; I would never use them as a substitute for other joinery in a piece of furniture. BUT, many people do so you might get away with it. I wouldn’t expect to get more than 10-15 years from dowel joinery, although the glue should hold longer.

-- Rick M,

View bondogaposis's profile


5451 posts in 2766 days

#3 posted 01-25-2017 07:25 PM

Impossible for me to decipher, post a pic.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pintodeluxe's profile


5949 posts in 3228 days

#4 posted 01-25-2017 07:35 PM

I would use pegged mortise and tenons. Through tenons are especially strong. Dowels are okay if that’s all you have access to. I’ve never heard of anyone cross pegging dowels with smaller dowels, although I’m sure it could be done. Of course you’d have to cross peg both sides of the dowel to have any meaningful effect!

Think of dowels like tiny loose tenons. They usually rely on glue strength on both ends to work.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View TungOil's profile


1272 posts in 910 days

#5 posted 01-25-2017 07:46 PM

my initial thought is that a mortise and tenon joint (or it’s cousin- floating tenon) would be stronger than a doweled joint (assuming you are using a traditional dowel arrangement to hold the rails to the legs). Doweled joints are usually used to make assembly quick in production environments and for that they are great. The problem I find with a dowel is that you get too little face grain to face grain glue surface to hold up to any kind of stress. That’s one reason you see the glue joints on cheap chairs come apart after a few years of use.

If you are using dowels in some other “non-traditional” way, sharing a photo would be helpful so we fully understand what you are planning to do.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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