How to Use a Dowel Jig: Step By Step Guideline for Beginners

You may have this tool at home and don’t know what it does or how to use it. Here, we want to change that.

In this article, we’re going to tell you everything to know about the dowel jig and how to get the most from it. Interested in learning more about it? Then come and find out!

What is a Dowel Jig?

A dowel jig or doweling jig is a type of clamp tool that helps to drill straight holes in wood. When you want to drill those holes with accuracy, you use a dowel jig.

They are essential tools for woodworkers, especially furniture makers. You can make holes for dowels to enter and build a secure connection between two pieces of wood. From stools to cabinets, bookcases and even some tables use this kind of construction that helps to attach these wood pieces.

They come in various shapes and sizes, but a standard dowel jig will do the job for most operations. So, you won’t have to pick different sizes if you don’t need to.

How Does a Dowel Jig Work?

A dowel jig is composed of a steel block with holes where the drill bits pass through. On the sides, the jig comes with two clamps that either work to place things together or just hold them tightly.

The holes on the steel block allow the bits to pass through, but some of these holes may change in size depending on the demands of the user. All of these holes are located in the center of the block, so if you want to make different types of holes, you’ll have to make some fixes.

Also, consider the screw that passes through the block. This screw helps to clamp the sides to the wood more effectively. Once the wood is effectively clamped, then the holes will end up in the right place, ready to let the drill do its job.

And that’s how a dowel jig works. If you want to have a more accurate description, then you can learn how to use it next:

How to Use a Dowel Jig in 8 Steps

It doesn’t take much to use a dowel jig. It’s easy, fast, and takes little effort. Even if you aren’t familiar with woodworking, using a dowel jig can be a total piece of cake. Here are eight steps you should follow to do so:

Step 1: Get to Know the Dowel Jig

The first thing you should do is to relax. Get to know the type, model, and size of the one you’re handling. It is essential to know this so you can eventually use it more comfortably.

Step 2: Find the Side Bolts and Loosen Them

Then just find the bolts or screws on the sides and loosen them. This will open the jig so you can eventually fit the logs or planks inside. Try to expand the side blocks as much as you need.

Step 3: Mark and Adjust the Wood

Now it is time to mark the pieces of wood you want to make the holes to. Remember to also adjust them inside the jig, aligned to the best of your capabilities. This way, you can ensure a more accurate cut when the time comes.

Step 4: Tighten Up and Check

Once you have the wooden pieces inside the jig and aligned to your needs, then you can start tightening up. Make sure that after tightening the bolts or screws on the sides, the logs or pieces don’t move an inch. This will help you make the proper cut without inaccuracies.

Step 5: Start Drilling with Patience

Drilling with a dowel jig is no easy job. You’ll have to be careful but always patient. Sometimes you may need to pass the drill through the same hell two times. Just try to do it as accurately as possible. Always remember to pick the right hole attachments, so they fit the drill size you’re using

Step 6: Take Out and Check

Once you drill, you can then untighten the jig using the bolts and screws, and proceed to take out the piece and check the result.

You’ll want thoroughly drilled holes with no inconsistencies. Remember that even the slightest splinter may not let the dowel to enter inside the hole and produce a useless piece.

For that, try to piece the dowels inside the holes and make sure there’s no issue.

Step 7: Re-Drill if Needed

Among common issues, there’s a short hole that needs a deeper drill, a thin hole that needs to be wider, or a hole with inconsistencies around that doesn’t let the dowel to pass through. You’ll have to fix the problem by drilling again.

If all the holes are correct, then you can skip this step. Or if the issue can’t be fixed, such as a broader hole than needed, or a hole in the wrong place, then you’ll need to repeat the whole process again from step 1.

Otherwise, you should assemble the jig again and try to place the wood piece even more accurately this time. Remember to follow the holes and align the markings along.

Here, you’ll need to fix the piece according to what’s required. If you need a deeper hole, then push the drill a little further than before. But if you need a wider hole, you can change the bit and drill accordingly. The focus should be on doing it right this time, with patience.

Step 8: Attach the Pieces Together

Now you should be ready to attach the two pieces of wood together. The ones with the dowels and the ones with the holes, so you can make the furniture you need.

Make sure everything fits well and tightly. There shouldn’t be any inconsistency or problem when piecing the two wooden planks or logs. Otherwise, you may need to keep drilling.

If you need to feel more secure with the result, you can always add glue or a similar product inside the hole before piecing the furniture together. This will help to create a sturdier attachment or bond.

Use a Dowel Jig With no Problem!

Using a dowel jig doesn’t have to be an issue anymore. Even if you aren’t familiar with it, with this guide, you’ll learn the basics and how to make holes the right way.

Remember there are several types and sizes out there, so you’ll have to be careful of which you’re using. But whatever you have in front, this is the basic set of steps to follow.

So, are you eager to start making those dowel holes for furniture? Then get one of these today and start!

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