How to use a cam & dowel

Written by ann sofer
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How to use a cam & dowel
Learn how to connect wood using a cam and dowel. (wood image by Marvin Gerste from

A cam and dowel are a form of a connector that allows you to join separate pieces of wood. The device uses a round cam that sits in a fitting hole. A small dowel slides inside the cam from a perpendicular hole and the dowel is tightened via the cam to grab onto the second piece of wood. You can easily install a cam and dowel into any work pieces that you have, such as cabinetry or shelving or any other work that has cam and dowel fittings.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Flathead screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Lay down the work piece with the large hole flat on the table. The large hole should be facing up.

  2. 2

    Drop the round hidden cam into the large hole with the arrow-stamped side facing up. The arrow should be pointing toward the hole in the side of the work piece.

  3. 3

    Slide the hidden dowel into the hole in the side of the work piece as far as it will go. The ball at the end of the dowel should go into the hole and the expanding portion should remain exposed.

  4. 4

    Push the secondary work piece onto the hidden dowel in the first. Line up the hole in the second piece with the expandable end of the dowel and push the pieces together so they are totally flush.

  5. 5

    Insert the tip of the screwdriver into the notch in the cam and turn the cam 210 degrees. The cam will stop turning when it has fully grabbed onto the dowel within.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have a few cams and dowels in a row on a single piece, insert all of the hardware and only then should you connect the secondary work piece.
  • Do not attempt to stand up or complete a work piece until you are sure the cam and dowel have fully engaged with the pieces.

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