Which Dowel Jig for aligment of cabinets/shelves in plywood/mdf?

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Forum topic by mickmick posted 11-29-2018 02:13 PM 830 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 424 days

11-29-2018 02:13 PM

I have been doing quite a bit of built-in shelves and cabinets in both painted plywood and mdf recently and would like to look at getting a doweling jig for alignment purposes.

The work flow I would like to go to would be:

-Cut panels
-drill alignment dowels/pins
-add glue
-fit together
-screw or clamp

I would ideally like a dowel system that enables me to locate right in the middle of the 18mm or 19mm thick panel, so that I don’t have to worry so much about which mates up with which.

Have done some research and the Jessem really appeals but it looks as though the increments are somewhat set and therefor not completely adjustable if I get a Chinese sheet that is actually 18.5mm or something annoying.

Dowelmax looks good but quite fiddly.

Don’t want to go down the Domino or Duodoweller – too spendy for me at mo. Can get by as I am, using some custom clamps I built for alignment but would like to get things to this “slot together” system if I can.

I know I could rout rabbets but would rather not if possible, ie. dust/noise.

What do you suggest?


7 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5242 posts in 4571 days

#1 posted 11-29-2018 03:36 PM

I use a stupid simple General dowel jig. Works well, and not expensive at all.

-- [email protected]

View mickmick's profile


3 posts in 424 days

#2 posted 11-29-2018 07:38 PM

Sounds interesting – what is it exactly?

View DS's profile


3360 posts in 3031 days

#3 posted 11-29-2018 10:12 PM

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1663 posts in 2341 days

#4 posted 11-30-2018 12:53 PM

I have a Dowlit jig I bought back in ‘79. It looks like the one you linked to is a copy. It was used for over 10 years before I bought better one with a cord attached.

Right away I realized using the absolute center of the thickness was a problem. I bought a lot of from different suppliers. Some came in at 13/16, some at 25/32, and some at 3/4”. Using absolute center for dowels would cause both surfaces to be uneven, or not match up. I quickly offset my jig, and my holes are about 1/16 off center. When the pieces are marked for the dowels and drilled, the top will be aligned. I did the same for all my face frames until I found a Pacco horizontal borer. In this case, it would be way too much trouble finding center, so I raised the bit until it’s about 3/8” from the table. I can do 5/8” up to 8 quarter on one setup. On the 8 quarter, I mark both sides, flip it over and a hole for each side. ............ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View mickmick's profile


3 posts in 424 days

#5 posted 12-01-2018 05:42 PM

Nubs – think you are right about centering, I’ll just be more careful about organising the panels.

Did some research today and the Jessem appeals but can it be indexed from the end of a panel? I see it being used to mate faces via a pencil mark, but can it be indexed from the side of a panel in some way?

View RDan's profile


133 posts in 2935 days

#6 posted 12-02-2018 11:09 PM

Check out these 2 jigs one is Phil Thein who is making a $50 jig that you can do 1/4”or 3/8”. The other one I like is the Dowel Wizard for about $79.95. I have not used either of these, but thinking about trying them. I bought the JessEM Doweling Jig Master Kit. I like it, had a small learning curve figuring out the offset from the edge, that and old 2×4s that were a little wider than today’s. I also own the Rockler offset set your stock has to be the right dimension to get the correct centering. The self centering jigs, have either removal or fixed. These all work well, but I prefer the JessEM. Dan

View hkmiller's profile


186 posts in 692 days

#7 posted 12-03-2018 12:17 AM

Get a biscuit jointer. Perfect for what you want to do.

-- always something

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