Dowel Joinery Technique and Tips

Using Dowels for Joinery

There are many ways to join two boards for case work. My favorite and easiest way is to use the Festool Domino. There's also biscuit joinery, pocket holes and traditional methods such as mortise and tenons. All of these techniques takes expensive special tools or jigs. The method I'm about to show you doesn't require any specials tools except a drill and a mallet. To make life a little bit easier you'll want some dowel centers to help you place your mating hole. These dowel centers are very cheap and can be picked up for just a couple of dollars.

dowel joinery

Tools and Supplies Used


dowel pins

Step 1: Dowel Pins

Although you can use regular dowels for this method I find that many of the dowels bought from the home center is slightly under sized and I highly suggest using these dowel pins.


dowel centers

Step 2: Dowel Centers

Using these dowel centers will help you align the mating holes. These little guys will make life much easier and improve alignment.


flag your drill bit

Step 3: Setting the Hole Depth

With a small piece of masking tape you can set the depth of your hole by wrapping it around your drill bit and making a flag. I'm using a 5/16" bit to go along with the 5/16" dowel and 5/16" dowel center.


drilling holes

Step 4: Drilling Holes

Drill the holes where you'd like the butt joint to be in one piece.


dowel centers

Step 5: Dowel Centers

Place in the dowel centers in the drilled holes.


dowel joinery

Step 6: Aligning Butt Joint

Align the mating pieces on the dowel centers and give it a tap with a rubber mallet. This will place a dimple on the mating piece.


drilling holes

Step 7: Drill Mating Holes

Using the dimples drill the mating holes in the second piece.


dowel joinery

Step 8: Add Dowel Pins and Glue-up

Add some glue and your dowel pins and tap the pieces together and you should have a perfect butt joint. Be sure to throw some clamps on and let it dry for a few hours.


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