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    Drill Guide for Super-Straight Holes

    Recently, while building a Shaker writing table, I needed to drill dowel holes in the front faces of my table's legs, after the table was fully assembled. I needed the holes to be perfectly straight, and that usually means using the drill press. Trouble is, you can't use a drill press on a fully assembled piece of furniture. So how do you drill perfectly straight, perfectly square holes with a handheld drill?

    You use a jig.

    This little drill guide couldn't be easier to make. It consists of a thick block of wood and a fence that holds it against the stock you wish to drill into. Holes of the appropriate size are pre-drilled in the block, and those holes, coupled with the thickness of the block, will force your drill bit into perfectly square alignment with the stock you're drilling into. Here's how to do it:

    Make a drilling jig
    click to enlarge
    What You'll Need
    The jig consists of a thick block of hardwood (in my case, I used a nearly 2-in. square chunk of cherry I had laying around) and a small piece of plywood or masonite to act as the fence.
    Make a drilling jig
    click to enlarge
    Drill the Block
    OK, for this, you'll need to use a drill press. In my case, I needed to drill two dowel holes - one right on top of the other. I used the drill press to make two straight holes clear through the hardwood block.
    Make a drilling jig
    click to enlarge
    Screw it Together
    Now it's just a matter of screwing the fence onto the side of the hardwood block. Presto: instant jig.
    Make a drilling jig
    click to enlarge
    Use Your Drill Guide
    To use the guide block, just clamp it to the workpiece and guide your drill bit through the hole.

    Perfectly Square, Straight Holes: After my two holes were drilled, I was able to glue in my dowels, cut them almost flush with a handsaw, and then plane them down flush (using a small block plane) before a tiny bit of hand sanding. Now my joinery is reinforced with straight dowels.

    Make a drill guide block