How to Join With Dowels

Written by grahame turner
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How to Join With Dowels
Dowels can create a simple yet efective joint. (dowel image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Many pieces of antique and modern furniture use a dowel joint to connect two pieces of wood together. A dowel is a small wooden rod, ideally with some grooves, which helps create a more natural join than a screw or nail. And it's much more effective than simply gluing two pieces of wood together. You can easily make a joint with things you probably already have on hand.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Drill
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Dowels
  • Rubber mallet (optional)
  • Nails or screws (optional)

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  1. 1

    Install a drill bit into your drill which is about the same width as the dowel.

  2. 2

    Line up the two pieces of wood you intend to join, side by side. The faces of the pieces should be pointing toward you, as if you joined them with a hinge. Mark the points where you will join the pieces with dowels. Then mark the centre of the wood with an "X." You should make at least two dowel joins, although more would be better.

  3. 3

    Drill through an "X-mark" to just over half the length of your dowels, less than 1/8-inch over. Repeat for all of the other holes.

  4. 4

    Drip glue into a drilled hole. Repeat for all of the other holes.

  5. 5

    Push a dowel into the hole. A grooved or spiral-cut rod will push some extra glue out to the surface of the wood. Place dowels in half of the holes you have. You may need to use a rubber mallet to push the dowel home.

  6. 6

    Line up the wood pieces in their final position and push the dowels into the other holes. Push them until the wood pieces meet. Again, you can use the mallet to push the pieces home.

Tips and warnings

  • For extra hold, glue the surface of the wood before pushing the pieces together.
  • You do not need to use a nail or screw, but if you want to ensure the dowel does not slip out if the glue should fail, you can nail or screw into the dowel.

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