Dowel Joints

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Forum topic by matt0852 posted 03-22-2009 05:26 AM 3981 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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49 posts in 3919 days

03-22-2009 05:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question jig tip oak joining

I am new to dowel joints. I have only used dowels to fill in holes and repair stripped holes. I’d like to make joints but how do I align the two holes so the work piece will be straight and perfect? Oh by the way, it is a tabletop and the legs to the apron. Also I have no drill press. Just a cordless drill with a level on top and a corded drill with no guide. I also have these bits with little tips on them and I was thinking they would work out good.

9 replies so far

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 4022 days

#1 posted 03-22-2009 06:16 AM

For accurate dowel joints you really need a drill press or a jig.

Doweling Jig

-- San Diego, CA

View LesB's profile


2240 posts in 4007 days

#2 posted 03-22-2009 07:06 AM

The cheapest and easiest way is to use dowel centers which cost about $4 for a set of 3 or 4 sizes. There are metal buttons in standard dowel diameters that have a small thin lip on one end and a cone pointed nipple in the center of that end. (
You mark your positions for the dowel in the first of the two boards you are joining, then drill them out to desired depth (preferably with Brad Point bits…those with “the point on them”). Then you insert the dowel centers in the drilled holes; the lip stops them from going clear in. On a flat surface position the two boards so they are aligned and then tap them together. The pointed cone on the dowel center will mark the spot to drill in the second board. With care you can make precisely aligned holes with a hand drill. Use of dowels with this method is limited only by your imagination. I did it for years. Next cheapest method is a Jig.

-- Les B, Oregon

View matt0852's profile


49 posts in 3919 days

#3 posted 03-22-2009 07:08 AM

Would a place like Lowe’s sell those dowel centers? I didn’t see them when I was there the other night.

View LesB's profile


2240 posts in 4007 days

#4 posted 03-22-2009 07:32 AM

They should sell the dowel centers but some of the inexperienced people they hire may not know what they are or where to look. You might copy the picture from the web site I listed and take it in with you.
I would check in the hand tool department, possibly with the drill bits.
I just noticed that the web site I found was in Australia so the price is off. They will probably be closer to $12 a set. Woodworkers Supply has them if you can wait for mail order.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Greg's profile


221 posts in 4022 days

#5 posted 03-23-2009 04:36 AM

At my local Lowe’s they kept them with the dowel rods, until I saw the sets they had were on clearance, marked down from $7.99 to $1.99 a set and bought all 4 of them. Check ebay too.

-- Greg S.E. Ga.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

969 posts in 3957 days

#6 posted 03-23-2009 04:49 AM

Look for a Stanley No.59 JIg at ebay, with some luck you can get it cheap.
Also, it’s possible to make a small jig with plywood and use this Bushings for the size of your dowels.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4782 days

#7 posted 03-23-2009 03:11 PM

I have used a jig like Barry linked to quite a few times for joining legs to apron. If you buy the jig you’ll get instructions, but it’s really simple. You line up the parts and make a pencil mark across both, then you drill each piece individually, lining up the pencil mark to a mark on the jig.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View matt0852's profile


49 posts in 3919 days

#8 posted 03-24-2009 01:42 AM

I didn’t find them at Lowe’s but I just made measurements with EXACT centers, drilled some 1/16th holes as close to the middle as i could, then i used bits the size of my dowel with these tips on the fit right in the hole and it worked out really good actually. A lot better than I thought it would. I’ll have to check eBay and maybe Lowe’s again by the dowels. I was looking in the tools section.

View Eduardo Rodriguez's profile

Eduardo Rodriguez

37 posts in 3934 days

#9 posted 03-24-2009 01:55 AM

In my opinion the slot mortiser is the best machine for doweling, is accurate and fast, and soon or later you will be doing tenon and mortise joints, so is a good buy. Grizlly sells one in reasonably price. Another solution is a drill press, and you can make custom dowelings jigs for specific projects.

-- Tempus fugit...better work wood!!!

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