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    Dowel Joints Without a Dowel Jig





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    dowel centersThe conventional doweling jigs available through most tool and woodworking supply retailers work very well in most situations. If you're building face-frames for example, it's easy to attach the jig on the edge of your stock for drilling, but what happens when you need to drill dowel holes in an awkward location where these jigs just won't cut it? Dowel centers might be your answer. These simple devices allow you to accurately transfer the location of of one set of dowel holes to another workpiece. They work by making a small dimple mark in the opposing piece, perfect for catching the end of a drill bit.

    In the steps outlined below, I'll show you how to use dowel centers, and I'll demonstrate a way to drill straight holes using a handheld drill. In the example outlined here, I'm joining what might be a fictional face-frame assembly where two pieces of stock are meeting in a perpendicular manner.


    How to Make

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1: Dowel joinery requires holes in both of the components being joined, of course, so step one is to drill your holes in the first component. In this case, I'm drilling 1-in. deep holes in the edge of my first workpiece. These holes will accommodate my 2-in. dowels.

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    2.) Drill a Guide Block: Use the same drill bit to make a hole in a chunky piece of wood that will serve as your drill guide when making the opposing holes in your second workpiece. In my case, this next series of holes needs to be drilled in the end grain of a potentially long workpiece. You just can't do that on a drill press. A drill guide like this helps a great deal in making square, straight holes by keeping your hand drill perpendicular to the workpiece you're drilling.

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    3.) Drop in Your Dowel Centers: Now it's just a matter of dropping your dowel centers into the holes you drilled in component 1 earlier.

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    4.) Mark for Mating Dowel Holes: You'll notice I'm resting my workpieces on a nice, flat piece of multi-ply plywood. This helps to ensure that the two pieces being joined together are in perfect alignment. The workbench beneath is not quite dead flat. Once your two pieces are aligned, tap them together to mark for the second set of dowel holes in component 2.

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    5.) Ready for Drilling: The dowel centers leave nice marks that will catch the end of your drill bit, and they help to produce joints that are in perfect alignment. Not quite as straightforward as a commercially-available doweling jig, but effective none-the-less.

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    6.) Align Your Drill: I mounted the same drill bit used earlier at the drill press, into my hand drill and poked the bit through the guide block I drilled out earlier. Now it's just a matter of getting the point on my brad point drill bit to align with the dowel center mark for my first of three holes.

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    7.) Drill the Mating Holes: With the drill bit in alignment, I clamped the drill guide to my benchtop (you might need an extra pair of hands for this) and drilled the first of three holes. Then I simply used the same procedure to reposition for the second and third holes.

    1.) Drill Dowel Holes in Component 1click to enlarge

    8.) The Finished Product: Here you can see how the joint comes together in perfect alignment. No sweat!



    Ed_Pirnik

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