How to make a dowel joint

Written by jessica geesley
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Dowel joints are common in both antique and modern furniture. A dowel joint will attach two pieces of wood together without leaving behind screw marks, nails or holes that need to be filled. These are strong joints that are easy to assemble with wood glue and a clamp. However, accuracy is necessary for this style of joint to work properly. The holes must be completely square and perfectly aligned with the matching piece of wood. A dowel-cutting jig and a drill guide are needed for precise drilling.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wooden dowels
  • Backsaw
  • Dowel jig
  • Drill guide jig
  • Hand drill
  • Drill bit
  • Wood glue
  • Clamp

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  1. 1

    Determine the width of dowel needed for the project, then figure out the length needed for the project.

  2. 2

    Insert the dowel into the dowel jig through the hole that matches the dowel's width. Put the backsaw into one of the cutting slots that corresponds with the length measurement from Step 1 and saw through the dowel.

  3. 3

    Put a drill bit the same width as the dowel into the hand drill. Use a drill guide jig to drill a perfectly square hole that is half the length of the dowel into each piece of wood. The holes should be drilled on the sides of the wood that will be joined.

  4. 4

    Apply wood glue to one side of the dowel and insert it into a hole in one piece of wood. Spread glue onto the wood piece at the area where the two pieces will meet.

  5. 5

    Put wood glue on the exposed end of the dowels and slide the second piece of wood onto the dowels. Use a clamp to secure the joint and allow the glue to dry for 24 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • A dowel-cutting jig can be bought or made from scrap lumber. Cut a piece of 2x4 to 6 inches and drill a hole big enough for the dowel all the way through the 2-inch side. Use the backsaw to cut measurement increments out of the top, perpendicular to the dowel hole. Insert the dowel into the hole and saw.

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