Dowels are small wooden cylinders that are used in making wooden furniture.
Small wooden dowels are inserted into the bigger slabs of wood to join them together. These tiny wooden cylinders have been used to join blocks of wood for centuries; they make the joints stronger and more durable.
However, working with them has been tricky. Because these dowels are very tiny in size, and so they are hard to work with.
Then came the invention of the dowel jigs to make life easier for people who work with wood. The best dowel jigs will give pace to this task and let you drill through the wood with more precision and less hassle.
In this post we'll cover:
- What are Dowel Jigs?
- Our Recommended Best Dowel Jigs
- Best Dowel Jigs Buying Guide
- Dowel Jigs vs Pocket Jig
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
What are Dowel Jigs?
The name is funny, but the tool is very essential. It’s not a matter of joke at all. Without dowel jigs, it would take you a much longer time to screw your nails into place.
These are used as supplementary tools that are used to direct the screws properly into place. To put it simply, these tools are made of metal, and they have holes in them. You are to pass your screws through these holes.
Often these holes are threaded internally and are fixed with bushings. All of this is to provide support to the screws and give them direction so that they can be bolted right into the spot that marks X.
Our Recommended Best Dowel Jigs
Researching dowel jigs can make you very confused after a certain time. We know because it took us many hours of research to finally write this dowel jig review. Read on to find a jig that will answer to all your dowel calls.
Wolfcraft 3751405 Dowel Pro Jig Kit
For our first suggestion, we have something for you that is a little different than other dowel jigs. In the inside of the package, you will find two different jigs. This is one difference, and the other is that you will see that the jigs are made of aluminum.
Most dowel jigs in the market are made of steel because they are tough and malleable. However, aluminum is more durable than steel. So, this difference in the material of the structure ensures that the device will last you a longer time than others made with steel.
The hole guides are fitted with three types of bushings, which are 1/4 inches, 5/16 inches, and 3/8 inches. These are the bushings that are currently available in the market for use.
Bushings help to make your targets more accurate and boost up your pace in work. One problem that you will face with this kit is that the thickness for the widest hole is 1.25 inches. Whereas, most systems now require holes that are about 2 inches.
Another thing we must mention is that there is no self-centering system on this device, which makes it a little difficult to use these dowel jigs with the highest accuracy. But this dowel jig will be ideal for you if you have already fixed a point on which you are going to dowel.
The tool comes with bushings of 3 different sizes. These bushings are made of steel and so they are more durable than the usual rubberized ones. Also, this is an entire kit by itself, where you get two dowel jigs for the price of one. So, this is definitely good value for money.
The widest hole has an edge thickness of 1.25 inches, which is below the standard of thickness required in most systems.
Milescraft 1309 Dowel Jig Kit
If you need a reliable tool that will help you to assemble the pieces of wood together and make a sturdy piece of furniture, then you might be interested in knowing more about this Milescraft Dowelling Jig Kit. It has everything you need in order to do a good job at this wood attachment business.
Quick, accurate and durable – these are the words that are commonly used in liaison with this kit. The kit comes with everything you might need in order to hold wood together firmly.
And it can do all sorts of joining, whether it be the doweled corner joints, edge joints or surface ones – one kit will do it all. It has an adjustable fence and a self-centering system, both of which work together to keep the dowels aligned.
Location marking is very important, because if the dowel is inserted into a wrong location then it will be very difficult to get it out without causing damage to the material.
In order to make this part of the task more precise, you have metal bushings. Bushings are inserted and used to tighten the bonds between the wooden arms and legs of furniture.
This tool uses brad-point drill bits only, and they come in three sizes which are 1/4 inches, 5/16 inches, and 3/8 inches. It will give you a lot of versatility in function. All in all, you will enjoy working with this big kit of everything whether it’s your first day of working with this equipment or more.
The self-centering system and the fence make the machine safe to use even for beginners. Bushings come in a variety of sizes – 1/4, 5/16, 3/8 inches and therefore you get a wider range of uses out of this tool. Also, the tool can do all sorts of joints – edge to edge, face to the edge and even corner joints.
It is difficult to work with since the manual guide does not give clear instructions. A bigger problem is that the holes are not placed in the center.
Eagle America 445-7600 Professional Dowel Jig
Regarded as the best dowel jig kit by many, this one is particularly made for people who work very frequently with thick slabs of wood.
Basically, if your project involves materials that are any size over 2 inches in thickness, then this dowel jig from Eagle America will be very successful in giving you that satisfaction. Get your to work done fast and move on.
To give you a clearer idea into this, we are going to further mention that if your material is anywhere between 1/4 inches to 6 inches, then this tool is ideal for you. The tool is a very impressive quality, especially because most jigs are not very good at handling thick materials. And if they are, they cost way higher than this one.
Check price following the product link to be amazed. Also, another thing that works to favor this tool is that the bushing guide holes on this can be replaced easily. This will prove to be extra useful if you want more versatility.
This tool is mainly good for end-to-end joints. For this type of joints, this tool can be used to make corner joints at any angle. However, if you are working face-to-end joints, then we would recommend you use pocket hold joints instead.
One of the best features of this tool is that the sides of this box are made with aluminum. Aluminum has a rugged quality that prevents it from being as slippery as steel.
The advantage is that you will be more comfortable working. The material you are working on will not be damaged in any way unlike with some other dowel jigs that slip off and cause damage to the material.
It can work with materials that are 1/4 – 6 inches in thickness. The functions of this tool are very simple and easy to use. It is made of aluminum and is particularly good with end-to-end joints.
This machine cannot work with any other joint except end-to-end joints without a pocket-hole. The block is not self-centering, and it’s quite a bit of a hassle to center it with the use of clamps.
Task Premium Doweling Jig
In this line of work, the appearance of the equipment and tools don’t matter much of course. However, we feel obliged to mention that the Premium Doweling Jig is pretty much an all-rounder in terms of both looks and uses. This tool is made with a special metal called the aircraft aluminum, which is tougher and sturdier than steel.
There is a thin layer of steel coating the surface of the metal, and this has the purpose of making the tool rust-free, by withstanding the pace of time and the change in the air.
These are two of the reasons that have made the customers love this tool so much for so many years. Moreover, the bushings that are used in this tool are in sizes that are at an industry-standard. To put it simply, you will get a more versatile range of uses with this tool.
Talking about versatility, you need to give a considerable amount of importance to the clamping system as well. On this tool, the clamping system is fixed with a center block. This helps the tool in maintaining its center of gravity in all types of tasks, which is essential because this will give you more comfort in work.
You will be able to work on thick slabs of wood due to the strength and capacity of this tool. The tool will work on anything that have edges of about 2-1/4 inches in thickness. And don’t worry about the length either. The length is adjustable.
The body of the tool is made of aircraft-grade aluminum, with a coating of thin steel over it to make the body rust-free. It has the capacity to work materials that are as wide as 2-3/8 inches.
Moreover, it can adjust its center of gravity all by itself. The bushings come in three different sizes – 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8 inches, which opens up the potential of this machine to a big range of uses.
There are not too many good manufacturers for this tool and the product might arrive with some parts missing. So, you have to check before you purchase it.
Milescraft 1319 JointMate – Handheld Dowel Jig
We shall begin by saying that you need to be the owner of a doweling kit in order to buy this standalone hand-held dowel jig. The biggest benefit of this jig is that it is very affordable.
It is made with those people in mind who are just looking for another jig to replace their older one. If you fit this category, then you will love the rest of what we have to say about this tool.
There is an adjustable fence with it which will help to center the tool and keep it secure so that you can dive into the work without having to be worried about the system failing. Next step involves getting an accurate alignment with the materials you are working on.
Metal bushings that are attached in the holes will help with this. This entire set up uses a very minimalistic approach to doweling. The tool is not fancy at all, and it comes unaccompanied as you can see in the product link. But it is a very able tool which has a very high demand.
Many people don’t want to buy the entire kit, but they want an effective jig. This is why the company has taken the initiative to sell this alone. If you have to work on lumber that is about 0.5 to 1.5 inches in thickness, then you should definitely consider this tool. It will make you very satisfied with doweling.
The tool is minimalistic and fairly simple to use for professionals. It can dowel edge, corner or surface joints very effectively, and is also very affordable. You can use this tool with materials that are in the thickness range of 0.5 to 1.5 inches.
It has an adjustable fence as well as a self-centering mechanism. On top of that, the metal bushings are very helpful in correcting the alignment.
The tool is sold individually so you will need to buy all the other necessary tools separately. No clamping system has been incorporated into the tool.
Dowl-it 1000 Self-centering Doweling Jig
If you want something affordable and convenient to use, then this tool should really be on your list. The thing about this jig is that it can be used by anyone and for any type of task.
In case you have been working with or reading about jigs for a while, then you are well aware of how important bushings are. In lieu of that, it would please you very much, to know that this self-centering doweling jig covers your bushings fantasy.
It comes with not one, two, or even four – but 6 bushings altogether. The bushings cover all the sizes that might be useful to you; 3/16”, 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8”, 7/16” and 1/2” inches. With such a huge range of bushings, you will be able to do any task that comes your way.
The jig has the capacity to work with materials that are up to 2 inches in thickness. The tool weighs 2.35 pounds, which is the standard weight of such tools. Moreover, the quality of this tool is top-notch. It has that self-centering ability, which is one of the most sought out features in a dowel jig.
Doweling can be a risky business, especially if you are not in the habit of it. But even then, many professionals are known to struggle with centering the jig and keeping it centered. If the wood slips, then chances are very high that your material will get severely damaged.
The tool comes with bushings of many different sizes. It has a built-in self-centering mechanism, which makes the tool very stable and versatile. It provides a tight fitting with the dowels.
The device has very sharp edges, maybe hazardous.
Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig
This tool is very easy to use for beginners and is also much acknowledged by professionals. Not only is it affordable for everyone, but it also delivers the type of quality that can only be expected from professional kits. The construction of this tool is very solid, and it can handle alignment like no other.
Everything except the side jaws of this tool is made with steel. The sides are the parts of the tool fitted with the material when doing corner joints. They are made with aluminum, which is a pretty rugged metal. It provides the necessary amount of friction between the material and the tool.
The drill has bushings that guide the drill bits into the targeted area. These are the attachments that determine the versatility of the tool. They come in sizes of 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8 inches. They are easily interchangeable, and they have to be changed quite often to do different sorts of tasks.
Now, the bushings are spaced 3/4 inches away from the center. There are two more holes on the sides of the tool, which are of 7/16 and 1/2 inches in size, and these are used for direct drilling.
One problem you might face with the jig is that one of the screws protrudes out of the tool. As a result, the threads of the drill bits bind with the threads on this screw and that might prove to be a bit of hassle for you.
Overall, this tool looks very sleek and amazing on the outside. But compared to this, the functions fall a little short of the type of comfort that the exterior promises.
There are many drill hole sizes in this device which makes it very versatile. There are 6 bushings of a total of 3 different types. You can use this tool to work on materials that are about 2 inches in thickness. It can drill two holes with one placement of the device, thus increasing functionality and decreasing hassle.
The tool cannot center the hole accurately. There is a large offset between the parts which means that if you insert multiple drill bits using one placement, the drills will be set quite a distance apart. Also, the device is not calibrated.
Best Dowel Jigs Buying Guide
Dowel jigs can be tricky. You need to know how one works in order to fish out the useful ones from the myriad of useless kits swimming around in the market.
Here is a list of factors that you need to understand about doweling kits;
You need to know what you need it for. Most of the kits in the market come with bushings of many sizes. You might end up with a kit that doesn’t have a certain size of bushings you need.
In that case, you’d need to buy more bushings to get the work done. So, more hassle. In order to avoid this extra hassle, know what measure of bushings you need for your particular job and then proceed.
The clamp system is what holds down your jig tightly in place. You need jig with a good clamp system for good accuracy.
Also, get a machine that has a self-centering system. This system will automatically align the dowel jig for you, and you won’t have to bother with it repeatedly during the rest of the work.
Another thing that helps give precision to your task is the make of the jig itself. Get a jig of quality. The tool must be polished on the sides and the center so that it can fit into the flat corners of the machine. If the tool is stable with the rest of the constructional space, then your work will be much easier to do.
Get a multifunctional tool that can do many different things for you. A standard flexible dowel jig will be able to do edge-to-edge, edge-to-corner, and t-joints as well. This will come very useful to you when you do a big project that needs many different types of joinery.
Size of the Bushings
You need to know the size of the bushings to know how big a hole you need to drill.
Bushings come in 6 most common sizes, which are 3/16 in, 1/4 in, 5/16 in, 3/8 in, 7/16 in, and 1/2 inches. Some dowel jigs have all of these bushings, while some have just a few.
If you only need the tool for a particular type of task, then you can find one in the market that has only one bushing. The more the bushings, the bigger the tool and the more expensive as well. So, choose wisely.
The material of the Bushings
Bushings are covering through which you will have to drive the drill bits. These bushings need to be very airtight and strong so that they can withstand the force that gets exerted on them.
Ideal bushings are made with steel because they have all the properties necessary to withstand the pressure.
Ease of Use
Contrary to what it may look like, the dowel jig is a pretty simple tool actually. We did mention versatility as a plus-point, but don’t go overboard with it. It is important for you to be comfortable working with your dowel jig, otherwise, you will not be able to put it to use even if the tool itself has a great many uses.
All you need to get is a dowel jig that has a good clamp system, metal bushings, and a self-centering system, and voila! You have the perfect dowel jig, which is also very simple and easy to use.
Dowel Jigs vs Pocket Jig
Both of these jigs are used for fastening parts or pieces of wood to make furniture. They have similar functions but there are some differences as well.
Pocket hole jigs are quicker and easier to work with, whereas dowel jigs are stronger, but you will need a little more effort to work with them.
Also, dowel jigs are a bit more expensive than pocket holes, but they are more reliable when it comes to questions about durability.
Pocket jigs have a dust-collecting pocket whereas the dowel jigs don’t care about making a mess and they let you clean up the act after you are done working with them.
The similarities are that they both have clamping systems and self-centering capacities. You can use bushings of multiple sizes with both of these tools. It only comes down to your preference based on the dissimilarities we have mentioned above to select which tool will be better for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are dowel jigs necessary?
Ans: Yes, they absolutely are. You can accomplish the task without these too, but they make the task easier by miles! And since dowelling is not the most fun task out there, the sooner you get done with it, the better it will be for you.
Q: Can I use the jigs without ever having any experience with them before?
Ans: In short, yes. But you must research thoroughly about the tool and find out the procedures of its application. Read the manual guide that comes with it and watches a dozen YouTube videos before you get down to do the heavy work with this fairly scary tool.
Q: How can using these dowel jigs be hazardous?
Ans: The dowel jigs have a few moving parts which help in setting the target properly. However, if any of these metal parts shift and get stuck suddenly, you might cut yourself on one of the tough corners of this tool.
Q: How to ensure a certain safety level?
Ans: Well, do the usual drill. Get appropriate clothing, wear protective gloves and goggles, and keep an emergency kit by your side before you get to work. Most importantly, never let your focus waver during the work.
Q: Where do I store the dowel jigs?
Ans: You need to keep them in a cool dry place so that the moisture or direct heat can touch any of the parts of this tool.
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Well, here’s the end of it. We have researched a lot in order to present this one to you.
The best dowel jigs in the market come in many different styles and appearances. We hope, this article gave you adequate insight into the world of dowelling jigs so that you can now tell which features you should look for when buying yours. Best of luck!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.