How To Use Dowels In Woodworking Joinery

Dowel Like a Pro in 10 Hassle-Free Steps

Step 1: Prepare the Wood

Step 1: Prepare the Wood

Clean the surface before joining wood with dowels. Use 80 to 120 grit sandpaper to level the surfaces.

This will help remove rough spots that would create gaps in the joint. Brush the sanded surfaces to remove excess wood.

Step 2: Prepare the Dowel

Making the dowel wider than that measurement would

Making the dowel wider than that measurement would reduce the board’s strength. But using narrower dowels results in a weak wood bond.

Make sure that the diameter of the dowel is half the width of the wood. To make joining wood with dowels, bevel the tips of the dowels.

Note: Etch a tiny groove below the axis of the dowel. This will function as a channel for air and adhesive.

Step 3: Guide the Drill Bit using Dowel Jigs

Accuracy and precision are important when joining

Accuracy and precision are important when joining wood with dowels. To drill precise holes, mark the edge of the board first using a dowel jig.

Step 4: Align the Dowels

After marking the board where you will drill the h

After marking the board where you will drill the holes, align the dowel logs. Once you align the logs properly, tighten the bolts.

Pro Tip: Doweling jigs come with bushings of various sizes. These will accommodate various drill bit diameter sizes.

Step 5: Mark the Boards

Use a pencil to mark the exact location where you

Use a pencil to mark the exact location where you will drill and insert the dowels. Detach the boards and using the marks as a guide, align the jig.

RELATED: Wilderness DIY: How to Make Your Own Bushcraft Camp Chair

Step 6: Prepare the Drill

Once you are sure with the marks, fit the bit into

Once you are sure with the marks, fit the bit into the power drill. Place the tip of the bit right into the marked area of the board.

Step 7: Begin Drilling Holes

Grip the handle of the grip firmly. With a steady

Grip the handle of the grip firmly. With a steady hand, press the trigger switch as you push the bit gently into the mark.

Once done, reposition the drill bit into the next mark. Repeat the same procedure before joining wood with dowels.

Caution: Be extra careful when using a power drill. Observe safety and make sure to prepare a first aid kit in case of an emergency.

Step 8: Align All Holes

Insert the doweling centers into the holes that yo

Insert the doweling centers into the holes that you have just drilled. Align both boards with the holes and marks as a guide.

Press them together and make sure both boards are precisely aligned. This will create an exact indentation on the other board.

Use this indentation as your guide in drilling the next set of holes.

Note: When drilling a hole, make sure to set an allowance for air the glue to set in.

Step 9: Insert the Dowels on the First Board

When done drilling all the holes, remove the dowel

When done drilling all the holes, remove the doweling jig and centers from the board. Fill a reasonable amount of glue into every hole.

Insert the dowels into the holes. Remove excess glue that would squeeze out using a damp rag.


Dowel Joint Advantages

Dowel joints are a technique very commonly used in woodworking, where two pieces of wood are attached by a dowel or wooden peg. It is no coincidence that dowels have been used for hundreds of years. Now that you know when to use dowels in woodworking, it’s time to take a look at the many benefits that dowels can bring to your projects.

Dowling is a fast process

Once you are well-trained in making dowels, this is a simple and quick process. In just a few moments, you have made a strong and durable connection. Making yourself a dowel maker jig makes the process even faster. You can discover step by step how to make these in my article “3 Way Dowel Jig | New & BIG Improvement For QUICK Set Up | FREE PLANS”. In addition, there are also free plans available.

The strongest connections are dowel connections

When it comes to strength, dowel joints are at the top of the list when it comes to woodworking joints. A single dowel can make a connection much stronger, but the actual strength comes when multiple dowels are used. To achieve a strong and durable connection, put up dowels every 4 inches (approx. 10 cm).

It is not necessary to have any hardware

Dowel joints do not require screws, staples, or nails. This not only reduces the chance of damage when working with hardware, but it also provides the object a more polished appearance by not disrupting the grain pattern.

It Is Secure

Because the dowel passes through the wood, the joint is extremely robust, far stronger than using merely glue or nails to link two pieces of wood.

Easy to assemble

Once you’ve decided where you want the dowels in the wood and how deep, you’ll need to hollow out the holes that the dowel will go into. Just add some wood glue, slide the pin into the piece of wood and then attach the other piece and that’s it. It’s that simple.


The dowel connections can be used in all kinds of situations. You can use dowels for a right-angle or flat corner connection, or even if you want to work in more complex connections. Dowels aren’t just for woodworking, custom dowels allow you to make connections in metalwork or even plastic.

Low costs

Dowels are a cheap alternative to screws, but the biggest difference in price is when compared to biscuits. To use biscuits in woodworking, you need a custom tool that will take quite a bite out of your budget.


If you properly draw up a dowel connection, you can only connect your pieces of wood in precise alignment and get a lovely result. A dowel joint cannot slip once it has been constructed because the dowel pins keep it in place.

Common Uses for a Dowel

Putting Furniture Together

Oftentimes, you run to Target or Ikea to pick up a “shelf in a box” or a new tv stand, or some other DIY project that you have to read instructions and put together yourself. It’s a rare thing NOT to find dowels as part of the kit to put this DIY furniture together.

In the bag of screws and the allen wrench, you’ll be sure to find miniature dowel “rods” otherwise known as dowel pins. The instructions will typically require you to use the mini bottle of glue to put into the pre-cut holes where you will stick the dowel. Once the glue dries and the shelf is put together, the dowel serves to strengthen the shelf you have just put together.

​If you were to simply use glue to join two pieces of wood, it wouldn’t be nearly as strong as using dowels.

Cross Dowels

These are used in putting together furniture as well. These allow you to join two pieces of wood together. These are metal ​and have a threaded hole inside like other metal nuts. The ends (at least one of them) are slotted and the slot is parallel to the threaded hole. 

What Are the Advantages of a Dowel Joint

  • Speed – Creating a dowel joint is much faster than creating a mortise and tenon joint.
  • Easy to Create – Dowel joints are just holes with pegs glued into them. Nice and simple!
  • One Tool – The only tool that you need to create a dowel joint is just a drill.
  • Better Looking – It gives a better finish to your project because you don’t see screws.
  • Less Hardware – You don’t need to use nails, screws, or any other type of metal fastener.
  • Strength – A dowel joint is much stronger than a standard butt joint because it’s physically “locked in” by a dowel.

Drill Your First Holes

To begin doweling your joint, align the two boards to be mated into their final positions. You'll need to use at least two dowels for each joint, more if the joint is particularly wide. One rule of thumb is that if the board(s) are less than 6 inches wide, place one dowel 1/4 of the way across the joint, and a second dowel 1/4 of the width in from the opposite side. So, for a 6-inch wide board, the first dowel would be placed at 1 1/2 inches in from one edge, and the other dowel 1 1/2 inches in from the opposite side. If the gap between the dowels exceeds 4 inches, add an additional dowel.

Using a pencil, make a mark at the desired locations on both boards. Then, separate the boards and align the doweling jig with one of the marks on either board. Install the drill bit into your power drill or cordless drill and position the drill stop onto the bit at the desired depth.

Drill your first hole through the jig to the drill stop, then reposition the jig over the second hole and repeat. Continue until all holes on this board have been cut.

Using a Dowel Jig

A dowelling jig can make the process of working with dowels a lot easier. It can also slow you down in the beginning because your learning how to use it and its just not muscle memory. But a simple jig can run any where from $8 to $30. I am using a General Tools Aluminum EZ Dowel Joining Jig Kit. I like the jig because it comes with a stop clamp for the drill but and a device that helps guide the drill bit into the wood. Drilling free handed can cause the drill points to be at an angle.

There are also pin markers that can be placed on t  There are also pin markers that can be placed on t

There are also pin markers that can be placed on the ends of the dowels and in the hole of the adjoining piece that will place a pin “mark” or indention into the adjoining wood.


Question: How do you make a dowel without a jig?

You can build your own jig or you can work your way around the need for such a tool if you make the right measurements, align everything properly, and take your time with dowel drilling.

Question: Do I need a jig for dowels?

There are multiple ways to make a dowel without a jig, but having one is recommended because it makes the job faster and more accurate.

Question: Are dowels stronger than screws?

Yes. Dowels are stronger than screws because they have extra holding power given by the glue that reinforces their strength.

Stacked Cake Assembly

When inserting long pointed dowels through tiers, press slowly but firmly with two thumbs. When the tip reaches the cardboard, you will feel its resistance.

At the point of resistance, tap the blunt end of the dowel with a hammer so it pierces the cardboard base. Once the point has bored a tight hole for the dowel to pass through, you can complete the job by hand. Push the dowels down so their butt ends are just below the surface of the cake. Rather than burying them deep out of sight, it’s better to cover them with decorations, leaving them discoverable for the person whose job it is to find and remove them later on.

Steps To Use Dowel Screws

Measure Properly

The foremost thing to do is certainly the measurement. You should measure each and every minute detail before going for it.

Perfection can only be achieved by giving time to details. Most of the people attempt the mistake of not going on the details and measuring superficially.

The best thing to do is carry a notebook and pencil with you while working.

Draw a rough sketch of your work and write the measurements along with it.

This will ensure that you measure everything and there is little or no risk of misjudgment.

Now, you have drawn a sketch and ready for measuri

Now, you have drawn a sketch and ready for measuring the logwood but how to actually do it?

First of all, find the center of the logwood and mark it with the help of ink.

If you are joining two pieces of wood then find the center of another wood as well and mark it.

Measure the lengths with the help of a scale or a measuring meter and write it down in your notebook.

Make sure that your marks on the wood are straight and not curved at any point.

Double check everything with the help of a scale. Adjust the degree angles of the wood and join them.

Drill along the measurements

And so, you are done with the measurements and mar

And so, you are done with the measurements and marking on the wood.

The next thing to do is drilling which the core of dowelling. As mentioned earlier, you should always go for a narrow drill.

A narrow drill will give you some space as well as easy to use at the same time.

Drilling becomes somewhat easy with the help of inked measurements. Now, you just have to follow the marks with the help of drill.

First of all ensure that the logwood is steady and not moving.

Make sure that your workstation is clear because it will eventually turn messy with the drilling.

Place the logwood properly on the workstation and keep it steady with the help your one hand.

Second, is to choose the right speed of the drill. Do not work in haste and opt for a high speed.

Always go slow. Drill the holes in the wood by just inserting the tip of the dowel into it.

Keep the speed slow and insert carefully. Do not move your other hand out of the vibrations otherwise, it will hinder the alignment of the wood.

You just have to meticulously place the drill on the marks, keep the speed slow and just insert the tip of the dowel.

The dowel will work by itself and latch the wood accordingly.

Align the holes of the wood

The drilling part is now done and your wood is rea

The drilling part is now done and your wood is ready to be finally joined. The next thing to do is align the holes of the wood.

Place the wood above each other by aligning the holes or according to your design. The key is to ensure steadiness while working.

Keep the first wood steady with the help of a hand and tighten the dowel around it.

Make sure that you do not move the second wood while tightening. You can take help of someone in case you find it difficult working on your own.

Align the doweling jigs by matching the holes.

Glue the dowel screws

The dowel screws do not usually fall off if tighte

The dowel screws do not usually fall off if tightened properly.

However, do not take this risk and purchase a good wood glue beforehand. Dust and clean your workstation properly.

Clean the mess caused by the drilling on the logwood. Make sure that everything is clean before gluing the screws.

Take some ample amount of the glue and spread it on the edges of the joints in each log.

You can use a woodworking clamp to keep the logs in place if necessary.

Wipe out the extra glue immediately with the help of a cotton cloth and allow it to dry.

Usually, the wood glue takes few hours to dry. Leave it undisturbed for few hours.

Touch it up

Gluing is as important as drilling and make sure you do not spill even a drop of it in the hole.

Spreading the glue in the holes leads to permanent fixing of the screw.

You may need to unscrew the joints in future and keep this in mind before finally gluing the screws.

Now, the glue has finally dried and your work is almost done. The next thing to do is giving a final touch up to your work.

You can make use of paint, stain or polishes for the same. Spread the paint evenly on the surfaces and let it dry.

And here you are, ready with your masterpiece.

#4 Theyre Versatile

Since wood dowels are sold in a variety of thicknesses and lengths, they can be bought and trimmed to accommodate any size or shape of cake. Moreover, they can be cut flat on the ends or sharpened to make the two kinds of support columns needed to properly stabilize a cake.

  • This dowel method involves hiding cardboard and wooden rods inside a sculpted or multi-tiered cake.
  • Without being seen, these non-edible interior supports hold the cake up.
  • There are two kinds of dowels involved with this system.

SHORT DOWELS lend vertical support to a cake, preventing it from getting squished or crushed by the cake stacked above.

LONG POINTED DOWELS lend horizontal support, preventing the tiers of the cake from sliding side-to-side or slipping apart.

Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Click here for more information about our disclaimers


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.