jump to example.com
Main_Final_TM.jpg

Dowels joinery pretty much ensures two things: first, you’ll have a strong joint. The second is that you’ll have a frustrating time getting everything to line up — particularly on butt joints where you’re joining two boards edge to edge. Wolfcraft’s Dowel Pro jig claims to eliminate some of that frustration, saving you time as well.

Their kit includes the jig, two clamps, three depth stops and 60 dowels in three sizes. The great thing about the jig is that you can clamp and drill both pieces at the same time. This is true whether you’re talking about corners, edge-to-edge joints, or T-butt joints. This practically ensures that you’ll get things to line up when it’s time to glue everything up.

At first the jig wasn’t really intuitive from the pictures, but luckily Wolfcraft offers a detailed manual that’s even available online so you can check it out before you cough up $40 of your hard-earned dough. Though you can also score it at Amazon for $36 with free shipping right now.

Dowel Pro Jig [Wolfcraft]
Street Prices [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]

 

16 Responses to Dowel Joinery Made Easy

  1. Kyle says:

    Just curious,
    I’ve been using biscuits and pocket screws for joinery…. Is there any advantage dowel joinery has over these? I guess I assumed that dowel joinery was “old school”. But I see jigs for it popping up quite a bit, so maybe that assumption is wrong.

  2. I personally can’t speak from experience as I’ve always used dowels. But I think it’s really just 6 one, and half dozen of the other. Just different ways of accomplishing the same thing, with each method having it’s pros and cons. Though I think they are largely academic. There are claims that dowels are stronger than biscuits, and the nice thing about pocket screws is that if you avoid the yellow stuff (glue) it’s easy to disassemble if you have to.

    I think a lot of it too, has to do with what you have on hand. If you have to go buy a biscuit joiner or a pocket screw jig, or even this doweling jig, those methods will be at a disadvantage over something that you may already have.

  3. joel says:

    I have a similar doweling jig that works surprisingly well, even for butt-jointed boards. I’ve never used biscuits only because I never invested in a biscuit jointer, although I see Norm using them all the time.

    huh huh butt
    mmm…biscuits

  4. Fred says:

    I wouldn’t use anything but pocket screws for face frames – and the various Kreg jigs make this simple.

    I’ve built a few oak exterior entryway doors from scratch where pocket screws were just not an option. Biscuits are not strong enough for this application on 8 foot high doors. Two mating doors were built the old-fashionned way with continuous splines set into grooves cut in each board. These were flat doors. I built 6 other doors with raised panels – using traditional mortise and tenon joinery for the stiles and rails. I think that the racking potential on large doors is too much for biscuits to handle.

    I do use a Dewalt biscuit joiner for cabinetry – where the biscuits are as much a glue-up alignment aid as a a joint strengthener. I’ve learned over the years to position the biscuits close to the center of the stock to avoid bump-out when they swell. Dowels seldom do this and they are the choice when this is a risk. I find that the Dowelmax jig offers very good accuracy and repeatability – that I never had with an old Stanley jig.

    If I had nothing better to do with my money – I might try the new Festool Domino – loose tenon joiner.

  5. Roscoe says:

    I used to use dowels a lot, as they require minimum investment to get started, all you need is a jig. I picked up a Kreg Jig and haven’t looked back. Now I only use dowels when I can’t hide the pocketholes.

    I’ve never been very impressed with biscuits, seems like a high investment for not much added strength. I kind of feel the same way about the new Festool- I’d rather spend my money on a dedicated mortiser and tablesaw tennon-cutting jig if I had the cash to blow. You could get the same effect as the Festool loose tenon tool by just drilling more dowel holes, plus you don’t have to use the proprietary Festool tenons.

  6. I like mortise and tenon for end to edge grain applications, I didn’t say I was any good at them, but I think they are fun, if not time consuming, to make. If I ever had to do anything fast thought it would be pocket screws all the way.

    For the few times I’ve used edge to edge (making a wider plank) I have just glued and clamped the boards together. A little work with the jack plane, yeah add a planer to the infinite list of tools I want, and the surface is nice and flat.

    I saw Norm once on The New Yankee Workshop say that he stopped using biscuits for table tops because after time the biscuit pockets would start to show on the surface. I wonder if a domino would do the same thing.

  7. Buck says:

    This looks a lot like the Craftsman pro doweling jig:
    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00967199000P?vName=Tools&keyword=dowel

    I’ve got this one, and I mostly like it, but the setup is kind of a pain in the tookas, especially for corner joints. It did make some strong joints, though. I used it to build a wine rack that’s holding up quite well.

  8. elmegil says:

    Coupla questions:

    1) why couldn’t you build an equivalent jig yourself with some good hardwood and a drill press?

    2) Why only pocket screws for face frames? I’m curious because I’ve always disliked pocket screw joints, but I’d like to know if there’s something I ought to do that way.

    3) Why all the hate for biscuits? 🙂 Seriously, I’ve used them a lot and have yet to find an application where they weren’t strong enough. 8 foot doors, ok, I can see that, but for general work, unless as you say they might bump through, they seem to work well for me. I have a 9 foot oak radiator cover put together primarily with biscuits and my kids have been jumping on it for several years now…. I also recall one of the woodworking magazines doing a stress test that found biscuits are marginally weaker, but the real thing that makes or breaks the joint is the glue job and the joint fit.

  9. Mopardude says:

    I have this jig but only it has a different name on it. Personally I am not impressed buy it. To me its combersome compared to other ways.

    Elmegil-
    2) Pocket screw joints with todays glue is just as strong as any other comparable joint. The only downside is that you have a nasty looking hole one one side of the piece. But with good planning and layout of your project this is a really a mute issue. The reason why a lot of guys like this joint for face frames is because after you attach it to the cabinet you never see the pocket holes. Also you can build more frames quicker and the need to have a ton of clamps around is not nessesary as the screw will hold the joint till the glue dries!

    3) many people dislike biscuits because contrary to what they told us back in woodworking classes back in the old days. Biscuits just don’t have the long grains surpahce area needed for glueing up a strong joint. Plus with technology like Kregs sets and Festool dominoe and all the others bisquits are really not needed. About the only thing worth keeping them around for is to use them to align boards flush with when you are jointing them.

  10. Fong says:

    I picked up this jig over a decade ago for the very reason Roscoe pointed out; it was cheap and I was broke. Today’s glues are pretty darn strong, some even stronger than the wood you’re trying to bond.

    Starting out, it seemed to me customary to use the largests possible contact and cross sectional strength for your joints so you don’t rely on the glue. Biscuits for face frames (before the Kreg), dowels for thicker boards, lap joints for wide boards, and mortise and tenon for thick and wide boards.

    My only complaint with this jig is that drill bit collar. It never stays in place. I just use tape.

  11. PutnamEco says:

    What no mention of my favourite, the Dowelmax
    http://www.dowelmax.com/

  12. Zathrus says:

    At $260 + $15 shipping, the Dowelmax isn’t exactly in the same ballpark as this (or the Craftsman Pro version referenced above).

    Heck, at that price it makes buying a biscuit cutter/joiner attractive again.

  13. Chip says:

    I have used this exact same dowel jig, and it allowes for a precision hole. However, the alignment of the tool is completely up to the skill level of the wood worker. I was creating a butt joint, and I didn’t want to drill all the way through the face board. This way when its doweled and glued up, there would not be a hole on the visual face of the board. I didn’t want plugs visible either. This is very difficult to cut using this dowel jig.

  14. Leon says:

    Joinery is an exercise in compromises. Dowels are great for alignment and for shear strength, difficult to master without an expensive jig or doweling power tool. Biscuits are great for alignment and pull out strength, much easier and forgiving than dowels, but you need a good power tool for them to work. Loose tenons have the combined benefits of both dowels and biscuits, but they have the combined disadvantages too. You need a lot of skill and the appropriate tools or a lot of money for a dedicated tool like the Dominos.
    I love my biscuits for general strength and fast assemblies and I use multiple dowels for stronger joints, I even use combination of both when I need to, but I have the tools and the expertise to do that. If I had to replace my tools, and money was not an objection I would get myself another PC biscuit joiner, but I would get a Dominos instead of my dual dowel joiner, flat dowels are just better than round dowels, more long grain contact and mechanical protection against circular forces

  15. Justin Thyme says:

    After watching the unbiased joint destruction tests over at the Dowelmax site, there’s no questions left in my mind about dowels… They may be old-fashioned, but they are quick (with a good jig) and incredibly strong.

    I’m tired of cutting in time-consuming mortise and tenon joints when dowels are so quick and easy.

    If you haven’t seen those independently monitored strength tests, and there are several, go to dowelmax.com

  16. kimberly says:

    i am currently working at a woodworking factory and i was wondering does the dowel joint have any disadvantage? i really want to know because its very important keep in mind the disadvantage before starting construction. thanks for your help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *