To make a beautiful dowel joint, you will need a reliable dowel jig. In this case, you can’t rely on your skill alone because the tool plays one of the most important roles.
That is why you should take your time and find one of the best dowel jigs for your projects.
However, if you have little to no knowledge regarding this tool then there’s nothing to worry about, because we have got your back.
In this comprehensive article, we have provided details of our top five picks, while providing an informative buying guide, which will help you determine to which one is the most suitable for you.
Without further delay, let’s start searching for the right pick now!
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The Best Dowel Jigs Reviews
Are you looking for an apt dowel jig but aren’t sure about where to start looking? Well, you can start with our reviews of the top five picks, which will give you sufficient insight regarding what you will be needing and what you won’t be needing.
1. Dowl-it 1000 Self-centering Doweling Jig
Without sufficient thickness and accuracy, will you really be able to rely on a set of doweling jigs? No? We thought so! And hence, we will be reviewing one of the best doweling jigs out there that contain both of these facilities along with a lot more!
Whether you need to use this product for wood-shop classes or for furniture making, this would be ideal nevertheless. That is because it has been designed to be easy to use during delivery professional-like precision. As a result, you will be getting the best of both worlds.
On the other hand, for further sturdiness, the center block has been constructed using solid steel, which has been precision hardened for a prolonged lifespan. The clamping screw is also made of steel, and the sides are made of aluminum. So, this item is long-lasting overall.
The clamping screw is large, and its primary purpose is to tighten the tool with the sides, which will hold the work securely without causing any damage to the wood. Moreover, the self-centering action can cater to both square and round stock, which will make your projects even easier for you. We found it particularly useful while working with soft close drawer slides.
This product doesn’t lack in the sector of versatility as well. And that is because, it comes with six permanent drill hole sizes. The sizes are — 3/16 inch, ¼ inch, 5/16 inch, 3/8 inch, 7/16 inch, and ½ inch. Hence, you will be able to work on various projects without any hassle.
The shape of the product has not been designed properly, which can lead to accidents, such as the user getting cut. On the other hand, it often fails to hold the material tight enough, which can be disappointing for the users.
2. Woodworking Self Centering Dowelling Jig
Are you looking for a dowelling jig that will be convenient for both woodworking enthusiasts and a furniture factory? In that case, here’s an item that you should check out right now. This jig is both practical and user-oriented, which makes it ideal for both professionals and beginners.
What makes it tremendously popular in the market is its durability and quality. The joinery punch locator is made of aluminum alloy, whereas the drill bushing and nut have steel HRC50 and brass construction. This build ensures not only a long service life but also top-notch toughness.
When it comes to performance and efficiency, this item doesn’t fall back either. The anodic oxidation treatment surface and the steel HRC50 makes sure the tool performs well at all times. As a result, for top-grade efficiency, you will be able to rely on this device at all times.
Along with precision, the tool offers versatility as well. That is why it comes with three different sized bushings (6mm, 8mm, and 10mm) as well as two different sized scoring holes (1mm and 2mm). This aspect will allow you to make different sizes of holes while ensuring precision.
Moreover, the item gets even more versatile, thanks to its adjustable stop feature. The joinery punch has been designed to adjust the stop and drill accurately, which will work according to your work requirements. As a result, you will have nothing to be concerned about while working on your projects.
However, the distance on the distance scale that should work on end grain dowelling is incorrect, which can be disappointing. On the other hand, the plugs included are very thin, so you will have to be careful when using the tool.
3. Drill Guide Dowel Kit Jig with 6 Bushings
If you are going to spend a considerable amount of money on a dowel jig, then you might as well make sure that it’s worth it. And while not all items provide such guarantees, this one does. It provides excellent value for money with its remarkable qualities, which will be elaborated on right here.
With six bushings, this item really beats its competitors in terms of versatility. The sizes included are 3/16 inch, ¼ inch, 5/16 inch, 3/8 inch, 7/16 inch, and ½ inch. As a result, you will be able to drill holes according to your convenience and work requirements, without any hassle whatsoever.
What makes the kit even better is that you won’t have to purchase anything extra for your projects because it already contains everything that you could possibly need. And such an item is centering pins. This tool can be used for a variety of projects, which makes this kit all the better.
Another one of the finest additions is the three-inch see-through square base. Now we all know how convenient drilling holes will be with this one simple addition. You will be able to safely conduct your operation without missing out on anything at all.
But that’s not all. To make your tasks even more diverse, the item will allow you to drill perpendicular holes on corners, spheres, cylinders, and flat edges. As a result, you won’t have to hesitate at all before taking on a project, because this one is suitable for absolutely anything.
But the jig can wobble a lot at times, which will hinder its ability to drill accurate holes, and that is quite disappointing. Moreover, you will have to clamp the guide while working with it, which can be rather hassle-some as well.
4. Milescraft 1309 DowelJigKit
When doweling, you would want the task to be done quickly but accurately. And while not all jigs provide these facilities at once, this one does. It will allow you to dowel corner, surface joints, or edges without any hassle whatsoever. Find out more about this commendable item in our comprehensive review.
A lot of jigs promise to be accurate but often fail to be so. However, we can assure you that this one lives up to its words because it comes with metal bushings. Now the benefit of this aspect is that it will ensure accurate alignment while drilling, which will let you perfectly position the dowels.
Along with accuracy, the device offers durability as well. And for that, it comes with tenon centers / steel dowels. What this does is basically make an accurate as well as durable location marking of the holes. As a result, you will be getting top-grade efficiency while working with it.
For further endurance and strength, the item comes with fluted hardwood dowel pins. Now, these pins include chamfered ends that not only add strength but also endurance to joined surfaces. Hence, you won’t have to be concerned about them falling apart anytime soon.
On the other hand, you will be quite amazed in the diversity department as well, because the kit includes brad point drill bits in three different sizes. As a result, you won’t have to compromise in terms of versatility, and you can work on different projects without any worries.
The drill bits included are bent, making it difficult to work with them and can be a little unpleasant for the users. Moreover, the centering pegs included are quite fragile, so you will have to be careful while working with them.
5. POWERTEC 71397 Ultimate Doweling Jig Kit
If you have never used a doweling jig before then, you will surely need one that is easy to use and one that contains sufficient instructions. While not all of them offer these facilities, this one does, which makes it a fan favorite. But it does include other praiseworthy qualities that will make you love it in no time.
But step-by-step instructions aren’t all that the kit contains; in fact, it includes everything that you could possibly need for your project. Starting from jigs to interrelated cobalt drill bits, this kit doesn’t miss out on anything. What’s more, it even includes a stop collar and a hard carrying case!
You will be offered three sizes for the doweling jigs and the drill bits, making it all the more versatile. The sizes are- ¼ inch, 3/8 inch, and ½ inch. As a result, you won’t have to hesitate before taking on diverse projects because this tool kit can handle more or less everything.
So far, we have seen that this kit significantly saves the costs of its users. But on another note, it will be saving you time as well. You will be able to produce high-quality dowel joints by taking little time, even as a beginner. Hence, you won’t have to put as much time and effort as you would have to with other kits.
On the other hand, the drill guides are made of hardened steel, and the 3/16 inch acrylic faces are quite thick. So you can already tell that this kit will be offering durability as well. You will be getting a long service life with this and won’t have to worry about replacing it anytime soon.
But you will have to break a sweat to make sure the alignment on this is accurate because it doesn’t make sure of that on its own. Furthermore, it comes with a clear plastic part, which is quite fragile and so you will have to be cautious with it.
What to Look for Before Buying?
If you are looking for the ideal dowel jig, then you will have to put sufficient effort into finding it, just like finding soft close hinges. That means settling down for an average one is surely not an option.
To find the best one for yourself, you will need to familiarize yourself with the essential factors that make a dowel jig great. And if you have little to no knowledge regarding them, then you should focus even more on those factors.
But, there’s nothing for you to worry about because we are here to make the task much simpler for you. We will be discussing all the key aspects in this section of the article, which will help you pick the right one.
Material Used to Make the Jig
When you are about to purchase a tool, the first and foremost aspect you should look out for is its durability. That is because you obviously wouldn’t want to invest in an item that will not last long.
Hence, you should firstly focus on the material used to make the jig. Then you should pay attention to its construction. If these two aspects seem reliable, then you can proceed to look at its other features.
The most popular material to make dowel jigs is aluminum. Now, aluminum comes with reliable intrinsic strength along with a lightweight body, which will make it effortless to attach to wood.
However, this material is highly prone to rust and corrosion, which makes it quite vulnerable. To avoid that, you will have to spend a little more and invest in a steel-plated aluminum dowel jig.
Steel resists corrosion and rust quite well, but its weight and price prevent it from being a good choice for dowel jigs. Therefore, it’s best to go for aluminum jigs that have been coated with steel.
The Accuracy That It Provides
When it comes to dowel jigs, accuracy is not an aspect that can be overlooked. Even though many buyers tend to forget about this essential factor, we will recommend making it your foremost priority.
That is simply because if the jig is not accurate, then you will face a lot of issues that will make your work only more hassle-some for you. However, if it is accurate, you will be able to work conveniently, with self-centering being a part of the equation.
One of the major inconveniences of inaccuracy would be that if the bushings are drilled imprecisely, then you will face a major issue. Moreover, you won’t be able to insert the bushings, which will be hassle-some as well.
On the other hand, if the bushings are too loose, then it will be pretty difficult to get an accurate hole, but if it’s too tight then they can get stuck, which can lead to the head being broken off.
Therefore, you should go for a dowel jig that is accurate and comes with a bushing that is neither too loose nor too tight. You can also do some research on your chosen item to find out whether or not it is accurate enough.
Bushing Size of the Dowel
As we have mentioned earlier, bushings are quite necessary, and you should pay proper attention to them as well when you are purchasing a dowel jig. That means don’t overlook the bushing size during your purchase.
However, before you choose a size, you should determine whether or not you will be needing the jig for a variety of purposes. That is because if you need versatility, then you should choose one that will feature multiple bushing sizes.
On the other hand, you know the kind of projects you will be dealing with, and if they are similar more or less, then there’s no point in getting something versatile. In that case, getting a jig that features only one bushing size will be enough.
There are three standard bushing sizes for you to choose from— 3/8 inch, 5/16 inch, and ¼ inch. These work with most average projects, and so you find a suitable one among them.
However, if you have to deal with extremely small or large projects, then we would suggest you go for sizes that are not standard.
Centering Provided by the Jig
If you want a strong, flush, and good-looking connection, then having your dowel centered would be quite essential. Otherwise, you may face loads of issues that will make work more hassle-some for you.
Furthermore, if you are a beginner, then you will need a dowel jig that centers pretty quickly and easily because you wouldn’t pull off a complicated task all on your own as an amateur.
And we can’t stress enough how important this aspect truly is because if the dowel is off the center by any chance, then there will be a risk of the wood splitting or of getting a connection that isn’t flush.
As a result, you will have to spend a lot of time, energy, and money on fixing this issue, which you wouldn’t want surely. But we wouldn’t recommend you to necessarily go for dowels that are self-centering as well.
Unless or until you are sure that the self-centering dowel pulls off the task perfectly without throwing the alignment off, you shouldn’t consider getting it to avoid added problems.
Versatility Offered by the Tool
Other than the bushing sizes, there are some factors that determine how versatile the dowel jig is. And not all jigs contain those elements; hence, you should spend money according to your work requirements.
Firstly, the number of connections a dowel jig can create gravely determines how versatile it is. There are three most widely known connections, and those are — edge to the surface, edge to corner, and edge to edge.
If you need all these connections, then you should surely choose one that can make them.
On the other hand, you should also focus on the capacity of the dowel jig to get an idea regarding how versatile it is. If it has a capacity of six inches or more, then it is quite diverse.
Conversely, there are much smaller jigs that will allow you to work with very thin pieces of wood. Those jigs should be small enough to be clamped down properly for convenient use.
Price of the Product
You will find dowel jigs that are very reasonably priced — for instance, some are available within 10 dollars and such. And then there are jigs that are priced 300 dollars and higher.
Hence, you should pressurize yourself to go out of your budget to get a decent dowel jig because we can assure you that you will find a convenient and versatile one for just under 50 dollars.
So you should make a budget and stick to it. Just look for all your required features within your budget and you will surely find a suitable one.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the primary purpose of a dowel jig?
Dowel jigs fulfill a lot of purposes when it comes to woodworking. However, the primary purpose of it is to join boards with dowel joints. Some jigs even include metal bushings and sleeves, which lets it serve drilling purposes. Hence, the role of this particular tool is quite versatile in this field.
2. Do I have to glue the dowels?
Yes. In fact, gluing the dowels is quite essential. That is because, dowels usually fit their holes snugly, which causes any glue placed on the dowels to be scraped outwards along with the dowel themselves. And this happens when you insert them. That is why this step is necessary.
3. Are dowels generally stronger than screws?
Dowel joinery is generally stronger than wood screw joinery. That is because, the former comes with an increased glue surface, which is caused by the glue getting into the wood more deeply. As a result, dowels have more holding power. However, screws strip out pretty easily in comparison.
4. What are the drawbacks of dowel joints?
While dowel joints come with tons of benefits, they have their fair share of drawbacks as well. For instance, you might have a tough time making one if you are a beginner. On the other hand, they may not be as strong as their dovetail or mortise counterparts, which can be disappointing. Therefore, you can opt for a 15 gauge finish nailer in some instances.
5. How much weight can dowels usually hold?
This aspect depends a whole lot on the size of the dowels. For instance, if we focus on the 1-inch dowels, which are more popular than other sizes, then we can expect it to have a load capacity of three to four thousand pound-force. The capacity will obviously increase or decrease depending on the size.
Are you still unsure about which one to get? Well, that is only normal. All the products mentioned in this article include their own sets of benefits.
However, to find one of the best dowel jigs for your tasks, you need to focus on your work requirements first. Once you get acquainted with what you need, getting the right product will only become a matter of time.
Also, if you're looking for a rope for pulling trees by any chance, give this informative article a read.