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Add one more to the list of red-anodized aluminum tools you just have to own: the cross dowel jig. Cross dowels are used in assemble-it-yourself furniture that you might find in stores like Ikea. They create a really strong joint because you are mating a bolt with another piece of metal rather then threading into plywood or particle board.

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Woodpeckers’ jig lets you precisely line up the three holes necessary for installing #10 or 1/4″ cross dowels. You can locate the cross dowel either 3/4″ or 1″ from the edge, depending on the length of the bolt and thickness of the material. To guide the drill bits, they press stainless-steel guide bushings into the solid aluminum.

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To use the jig you need a 1/4″ bit for the bolt and 7/16″ bit for the cross dowel, preferably brad point bits. First you drill a 1/4″ hole into the end of the piece that will receive the cross dowel. Then you drill the cross dowel hole through the face of the same piece. Finally, drill the hole through the face of the mating piece.

Woodpeckers’ Cross Dowel Jig will run you $30 and you’ll drop another $10 on shipping.

Cross Dowel Jig [Woodpeckers]

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15 Responses to Woodpeckers’ Cross Dowel Jig

  1. zoomzoomjeff says:

    Wow. I’ve never considered making stuff using that joinery but now that I’ve checked out their website it looks pretty interesting. They even sell the hardware there.

    Woodpecker does make a lot of stuff “you just gotta have” like Ben said.

    What are the pros/cons of using this vs. Kreg/pocket hole joinery?

  2. Rick F. says:

    The big difference is whether it will eventually need to be taken apart to move it like you might find with a bed. We recently sold a bunk bed that was put together with this sort of hardware and it works great to break things down to a 1-dimensional pile of parts for easy transportation.

    However, if you’re working on a dresser then you’d probably use some other sort of joinery for that I’d guess since it’s unlikely that you’ll take it apart..

  3. Jim says:

    It looks like they’ve simplified one part of it, but I guess I’m missing a step in understanding the location of the hole in the mating piece. Is there an alignment mark on the jig? I’m assuming you’re also limited in where you locate the hole in the mating piece unless you forgo the jig, i.e. distance from the edge. Still more ways to make a strong joint are always welcome especially one with the flexibility of disassembly.

  4. Jay Swift says:

    Jim,

    I would line up and mark the two pieces like you would for a biscuit joint. You could then line the edge of the jig up to the mark and drill your holes.

    I believe that you could use the jig on both pieces if you are looking for a flush joint. If you are looking for a set back joint, then you are on your own for drilling the hole in one of the pieces.

  5. Dave says:

    Seems like a piece you could replicate yourself on the cheap.

  6. Fritz says:

    This jig would have been very useful when making a cradle stand for an old family cradle recently. I wanted the stand to be able to be easily stored and shipped as the cradle moves through the generations, so I used cross dowels to connect the cross pieces to the legs. I drilled the holes on the drill press and it worked, but this would have been easier and more precise.

  7. Robert says:

    The $10 shipping is outrageous for something that size, feels like price gouging to me so I wouldn’t order from them.

  8. DMath says:

    http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?cat=1,180&p=40089

    A lot cheaper and fit to suit your needs just requires some layout.

  9. Steve says:

    Is the hole that is drilled into the 3/4 inch piece that holds the cross dowel, offset or is it centered on the 3/4 inch piece?

    Thanks

  10. @Steve,

    It’s centered. Follow the link at the end of the article to Woodpeckers. On the page they have pictures on the right hand side. Scroll down and you’ll see a cutaway shot of the cross dowel in place.

  11. Keith says:

    It’s a neat tool but what isn’t mentioned in the review is that cross dowels that have a 7/16″ body and take a 1/4″ screw aren’t to be found anywhere, not even from the people who make this jig. Dumb!

    • HUH? says:

      Huh? Please, go to the manufacturer’s web site and associated with this tool is a half a page of barrel inserts and screws – the bulk of which are 3/4″ barrels and 1/4″ screws. Please, do at least some minimal research.

  12. HUH? says:

    Correction – not 3/4″ but 7/16″. If the the item caption tells you it is for a 7/16″ drill, then it follows that the barrel or body diameter is 7/16″.

    http://www.woodpeck.com/crossdoweljig.html

    • TW says:

      Actually, Huh, Keith is right. The 7/16″ drill bit that they tell you to use will create a hole too large for the smaller dowels used for 3/4″ ply. Those actually need a 13/32″ bit unless you don’t care that you will have a huge sloppy hole for the dowel. I am finding this frustrating as well.
      Have decided to build my own jig but depth is the problem. The dowels for my application are 5/8″ long so that leaves 1/8″ of ply at the bottom of the dowel. This would be fine except brad point and other normal bits make a curved bottom so you have to go a little deeper to recess them. And I can’t find a 13/32″ Forstner bit.

      • Lawrence says:

        You can purchase a 13/32″ flat bottom 2 flute end mill at any industrial supply. They come in either HSS, or carbide, coated or uncoated. You can buy the drill bushings at the same place. This jig could easily be made from plastic, aluminum, or hardwood, and the drill bushings can be held in place with a set screw rather than press fit – this allows you to replace them when they wear out.

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