A dowel is a short protruding peg that is used to hold together two components of a structure together. The dowels produce stronger joints that ordinary nails and screws.
This is due to the fact that it produces tighter and more reliable connections that are well able to endure maximum impacts. To be able to achieve this, a dowel jig is a ‘must have’ and ‘must use.’
We have dedicated the entire article to the subject matter. We are going to discuss this equipment fully.
We shall touch on what exactly it is, the various types of dowel jigs, safety tips, and procedures of use. We shall also identify and review the top ten such items on the market today.
WHAT IS A DOWEL JIGS?
For a start, a dowel jig is a special device which is used to hold the various materials that are being dowelled together.
It also serves as a guide to the tools that operate on it. It minimizes fidgeting and thus confers maximum safety and security to the user.
TYPES OF DOWEL JIGS
Dowel jigs are mainly classified on the basis of their complexity and applicability. They are mainly of three kinds. Below are the three main types of dowel jigs:
These are the simplest forms of dowel jigs. They are suited mainly for the starters and those who lack adequate experience in the field of doweling. They are thus the better options for those who have never attempted to dowel before.
Intermediate dowel jigs are for those who have already mastered the basics of doweling but are yet to be professionals. They are hence great for carrying out mild tasks and for sharpening the doweling skills.
As the name suggests, the advanced dowel jigs are for carrying out advanced tasks and purposes. They possess topnotch controls and are thus complicated to master. In light of this, only those who possess advanced skills may use them.
HOW DO I USE A DOWEL JIG?
Using a dowel jig depends on several factors. These include the material to be dowelled, the intended final outcomes, and the nature of joints. However, the following are the main procedures to be employed for the job:
Step I: Set the Dowel Jig appropriately
Start by setting the dowel jig appropriately. Expand or contract the jig as the need may so dictate. Do this by loosening or tightening the bolts as need be. Use the size of the load to be worked on as the benchmark for doing this.
Step II: Mark the logs accordingly
Next, mark the log or material you intend to dowel appropriately. Use a pencil, a rule, and other geometric instruments for this. Pay keen attention to this step. This is because it is the single most significant determinant of the quality of the final outcome.
Step III: Drill Holes
Now proceed to drill holes on the surface or material you will have already marked. Be cautious and meticulous so as not to damage the material at all. You do not want to interfere with the final outcome, do you?
Step IV: Insert the Dowels into the Drilled Holes
Insert the dowels into the holes you will have already drilled. Be slow and meticulous in order not to break the dowels. Press gently yet firmly once you have inserted the dowels to fasten the connections.
Step V: Tighten the Joints
Lastly, tighten the joints. You may use glue, epoxy, or other adhesives to make the joints tighter and firmer. Some small nails may also yield the needed outcomes. Test the joints and make any necessary adjustments if need be.
ARE DOWEL JIGS SAFE?
YES, they are! They have parts that are easier to use. Moreover, the materials that are used to constitute them are also less injurious.
You are less likely to sustain any injuries at all by using them; not unless you are utterly negligent.
TIPS AND TRICKS OF USING DOWEL JIGS
Inasmuch as dowel jigs are great and safe, they are not without their share of downsides and potential dangers.
This means you have to adhere to a set of safety standards in your engagement with them.
The following are some of the tips you have to adhere to while using them to avoid injuries and associated dangers:
Obtain the Necessary Technical Expertise
As stated, there are three main kinds of dowel jigs namely the basic, intermediate, and advanced. You should see to it that you have the expertise necessary to handle and operate the type you eventually settle on.
Be Slow but Sure
To minimize the likelihoods of injuries, pains, and damages, you should see to it that you work slowly and meticulously. This will help you to pay attention to the tasks you are handling and in so doing ward off any dangers.
Put on the Right Protective Attire
In the course of drilling holes, sawdust will usually be produced. These dust have the ability to inflict pains and injuries to your eyes.
You should thus consider wearing some safety goggles to avoid this. You should also put on aprons and overalls to safeguard your clothes from these dust.
Keep Out of Reach of Children
Small children are particularly vulnerable to injuries and damages. It is because of this that you want to keep these items as far away from them as possible. Lock them in a safety cupboard when not in use and keep children away while using them.
Seek Expert Assistance when Stuck
In case you are a beginner, you have to see expert assistance at each stage of use. This is to aid you in making the best maneuvers and engaging the tool in the right manner. This will also prevent accidents and other problems.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN PURCHASING A DOWEL JIG?
Selecting the right dowel jig is not a simple task. This is because you have to put into consideration several factors. The following are but a few of those factors:
Nature of Task
As hinted above, there are three main kinds of doweling tasks. These are the basic, intermediate, and advanced respectively.
Be sure to match the dowel of choice with the nature of the task you wish to accomplish. This is to avoid unnecessary inconveniences and guarantee great outcomes.
Intended Frequency of Use
How often do you intend to use the dowel jigs? Choose one that is strong and durable if you intend to dowel more often.
This is to guarantee the long-term reliability that is necessary for this feat to be accomplished. The material that makes up the item should, as a matter of fact, be your topmost concern while checking this out.
Number of Bushings
The number of bushings determines the number of holes that the dowel jig can bore at any given time. To save yourself a bit of time and energy, you may choose to settle on one that has many bushings.
This is because of the ability of such a dowel jig to bore multiple holes at a time.
Apart from facilitating the boring of holes, these dowel jigs also clamp materials that are worked on. They have varying clamping capacities. Be sure to find one that has a high clamping capacity if you intend to hold larger materials.
Desired Outcome Quality
As stated severally, these dowel jigs are of three main kinds namely the basic, the intermediate, and the advanced. The qualities of the work that are done by these jigs vary by their different kinds.
Choose advanced jigs for the highest quality outcomes and basic for the lowest quality outcomes, and so on.
14 BEST DOWEL JIGS – 2018 REVIEWS
#1: Premium Doweling Jig
You can never afford to play games in certain kinds of doweling tasks. This is especially the case if the tasks in question are for commercial purposes. The quality of work has to be above board. An equally professional jig of this kind is by all means vital.
Patented Automatic Self-centering Action
You will not have to personally center the jigs. This is courtesy of the patented automatic self-centering action. This action is more accurate than the manual effort and thus leads to better outcomes. It also eliminates fatigue.
Large Steel Clamping Screw
The jig tightens the load perfectly well. This is because it acts like a vise by virtue of possessing rugged Aluminum sides. You will not have to worry at all about any likelihood of injuries or damages to the wood that is being worked.
Hardened Drill Guide Centers
Its drill guide centers are hardened. This is for two purposes. For one, it is to strengthen them to resist the common agents of wear and tear. This hardening also brings along extreme accuracy and minimal distortions.
- Centers on its own and therefore reduces fatigue
- Comes along with two bushings or expedited operations
- Has a pretty wide capacity
- Embodies the aircraft-grade Aluminum construction
- Very resistant to corrosion and is thus long-lasting
- Quite weighty (weighs a whopping 2.45 pounds/1.1kg)
- Requires plenty of space to mount and operate
- Backed by a less comprehensive warranty
#2: Milescraft 13110003 Joint Pro Doweling Jig
To spare yourself unnecessary wastage of time, you may always want a jig that is automated. This is the role that this particular dowel jig is intended to play. As you are about to see, the jig comprises parts that can work with minimal efforts.
The jig can clamp without any human effort at all. This, as stated, eliminates human effort and intervention. It, therefore, reduces the likelihoods of accidents arising and the attendant injuries. This is not to mention the awesome feedback it brings along also.
Interchangeable Hardened Steel Bushing
With these interchangeable hardened steel bushings, you can drill up to six matching holes on any given set up. This goes a long way in saving you a great deal of time and money. This also brings along the added benefit of maximum convenience.
On the whole, the dowel jig comprises three holes that measure ¼ inches, 5/16 inches, and 3/8 inches in diameter respectively. These holes grant you extra space to mount your load with ease. They also eliminate any issues from arising.
- Has the ability to clamp both boards at the same time
- Aligns precisely with the holes
- Can drill up to six matching holes at a time
- Generates stronger joints than most other jigs
- Delivers the required outcomes promptly
- Quite costly
- Not so safe
- A bit intricate to engage
#3: Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig
For maximum convenience and minimal spending, you definitely want to possess a dowel jig that is multipurpose. This jig, as you are about to see shortly, is one such. It is so designed to carry out many related purposes at a time.
Six Hardened Bushings
Top on the list of its key features are the six hardened steel bushings. These serve to fasten the load onto the jig. This prevents fidgeting and with it, the associated problems and injuries. Moreover, they give you the peace of mind you need to use the tool with confidence.
You will not have to personally center or position the jig as need be. This is because the tool automatically centers itself on any shape; be it irregular, square, or round. This not only yields perfect outcomes but also wards off fatigue.
As stated, this dowel jig is multipurpose in nature. This is to mean that it can perform several roles at a time. For instance, it can drill two identical and parallel holes at a time without having you to move the jig around.
- Can handle stocks that are up to 2 inches thick
- Manufactured by a reputable brand
- Simpler to engage and handle
- Comes along with a 1-year warranty
- Very reliable in the long run
- Calls for frequent maintenance
- Potentially injurious if not handled properly
- A bit bulky and cumbersome to engage
#4: Grizzly G1874 Improved Dowel Jig
If your whole life centers on drilling, woodwork, or carpentry, you want a reliable companion for the job. This dowel jig, by virtue of being versatile, strong, and highly adaptable, fits this bill particularly well. The mini-review explores its finer details.
As has already been hinted, the dowel jig is highly versatile. This stems mainly from its possession of six hardened steel bushings. It is also due to its possession of three different insertion slots. It can tackle just about any kind of load.
By using this dowel jig, you can drill two parallel holes without necessary using human effort. This spares you from the dangers of unnecessary fatigue besides bringing about more accurate outcomes. Why would you even wish to look elsewhere for your drilling needs?
Lastly, this particular dowel jig is very comprehensive in scope and nature. Unlike others of its kind, it requires no extra accessories and is also able to undertake several drilling tasks at a time. Moreover, it can even accommodate stocks that are up to 2 inches thick.
- Generally more convenient to engage
- Very light in weight by virtue of the Aluminum construction
- Has a compact size which demands limited storage space
- Cheap to afford and maintain
- Comprehensive in scope and construction
- Has a non-descript appearance
- Quite complicated to master
- Too involving and demanding to an ordinary user
#5: GRR-RIPPER 3D Pushblock for Table Saws, Router Tables, Band Saws, and Jointers by MICROJIG
In case you are time-barred and would wish to accomplish your doweling tasks faster, this indeed is the dowel jig of choice. This stems from the fact that it is wholly designed for the said task. It generally has fewer features that are easier to engage.
For a start, the dowel jig has the ability to apply force in three directions. This arrangement allows you to leverage the benefits of unmatched controls of the piece of work. This brings along better results and outcomes.
Moving-Blade-Guard Hand Protection
Given that equipment of this kind are more likely to inflict injuries onto your hand, it is necessary that you be adequately safeguarded from the same. This dowel jig has appropriate arrangements for the same. This comes in the form of the moving-blade hand protection feature.
Precise ¼-inch Thin Rips
Further enhancing the quality of the final outcome are the precise ¼-inch thin rips. Being thin, the rips are well able to squeeze in the available spaces. This, in turn, lets the dowel jig do a comparatively better job.
- Negates all kickbacks
- Work with small stocks safely
- Generates smoother, safer, and cleaner cuts
- Works safer
- Easily cleaned by use of denatured or rubbing alcohol
- Possesses some delicate parts
- Requires some technical expertise to run
- Slightly complicated to an average user
#6: MICROJIG DVC-525K2 MATCHFIT Dovetail Clamps for Wood Dovetail Track
You do not have to possess strong muscles and physical strength to engage a dowel jig. This is not when you have this particular tool in your armory. It is indeed handy and light in weight enough for you to use with ease.
In all, the implement takes shorter to bring about the desired ends. In particular, it can convert the 2-in-1 straight edge guides to square ends of your boards faster and easier. This eliminates fatigue and brings about better outcomes.
Dovetail Clamp Arm Design
On the whole, the dowel jig features a breathtaking dovetail clamp arm design. This grants you the freedom to fashion your own track grooves. This also allows you to clamp it just about anywhere. The benefit of convenience is yours to rip.
This dowel jig is universally compatible with the ½-inch 14-degree router bits. This again goes a long way in enhancing your enjoyment of the same. It also reduces the costs of acquisition and maintenance of the said implements.
- Allows you to build tall and stable fences for your saw
- Creates a versatile dovetail clamp that are very tight
- Holds the fence tightly to prevent bowing out
- Simpler to set up and clamp in place
- Confers consistent pressure you require for a wonderful job
- Smaller in size
- Not so strong
- Less durable
#7: MicroJig Tapering Jig for Table Saw, Router Table, and Band Saws for Woodworking
For repeated and regular use, you certainly want a dowel jig that is strong, durable, and able to weather the various elements of wear and tear. As you are about to see, this particular implementation is well suited for the said task and circumstance.
Cutting-edge Micro-dial Tapers
Coming in at the top of its features is the cutting-edge micro-dial tapers. This is generally easier to engage and very effective on the whole. It also confers the safety and controls you require to maneuver the workpiece well.
Memorized Repeatable Taper Cuts
The dowel jig has the ability to memorize the recent tasks and maneuvers. It automatically retrieves and utilizes the relevant maneuver without an input on your part. This saves you time, energy, and effort as you engage the machine.
With this two-sided tapering, you can be sure to double the cut angle of your work perfectly. This compensates for the materials that have been eliminated. It also cuts the operation time by half.
- Possesses accurate precision tapers
- Allows you to cut up to 8-sided tapered legs
- Infinite taper adjustments between 0 and 10 degrees
- Keeps angles for repeat taper cuts
- Full instructional DVD to assist you in setting it up
- Quite costly to afford
- Accompanied by less comprehensive warranty
- Quite cumbersome to assemble and utilize
#8: Milescraft 13090003 DowelJigKit – includes Milescraft JointMate
Working tough surfaces is no mean feat. It takes a great deal of strength and endurance to generate the required outputs. This can only happen if an equally tough implement is employed for the job. This is one such implement.
The dowel jig comes along with some metal bushings. These are fixed in place exclusively to provide accurate alignments in the process of drilling. This also brings about perfect positions of the dowels at any given time.
As hinted, this dowel jig is pretty tough and strong. This is mainly because it has steel dowels rather than ordinary metals as is the case with the other items of its kind. This construction assures you of long-term reliability.
Fluted Hardwood Dowel Pins
Its dowel pins are made of the fluted hardwood and are fitted with chamfered ends. These have the impacts of adding power and perseverance to your joined surfaces. It also comes about in three different sizes for you to choose from.
- Quickly and accurately dowels corners, surface joints, and edges
- Aligns precisely courtesy of the adjustable fence and self-centering jig
- Exudes maximum joint strength
- Also aligns accurately while drilling holes
- Generates perfectly positioned dowels
- Not for long-term use
- Brings about less value for money
- Quite cumbersome to carry around
#9: Rockler 3/8” Dowel Drilling Jig Kit
Are you cash-strapped? Would you still wish to leverage the benefits of a durable dowel jig? This could, in fact, be your great friend. As you are about to see, the tool is cheap yet still able to bring about the same degree of satisfaction as its premium versions.
Hardened Steel Drill Guide
The drill guides of the dowel are made of hardened steel material. This material does not wear out easily. This way, it is very reliable for long-term use and applicability. It is also well able to endure years of abuse.
See-through Reference Lines
Unlike most other items of its kind, it does have see-through reference lines. These allow you to accurately station and position the item to be worked on. This eliminates ambiguities and other inconsistencies that are often bound to arise.
¾-inch Thick Drill Guide
Its drill guide is ¾ inches thick. It is compatible with the face frame jigs that measure ¾ inches. Moreover, it also fits center dowel holes that are ¾ inches thick. These dimensions are large enough for the needed stability.
- Transparent and more convenient to monitor
- Has a simpler layout
- Easier to engage than most other dowels
- Does not require an unnecessary bureaucracy to manage
- Comprehensive in scope and applicability
- Relatively brittle and prone to breakage
- Unsafe for use
- Not so reliable in the long run
#10: Dowl-it 1000 Self-centering Doweling Jig
Learning to use a dowel jig is never a mean feat. This is due to the tedious and cumbersome nature of the task as a whole. This feat may only be achieved if a durable and easy to use implement is utilized.
Solid Steel Precision Construction
Its center block is manufactured by use of the solid steel and precision-hardened material. This is very tough and well able to resist tears, dents, corrosion, and other forms of damages. It is hence reliable for long-term use.
Large Steel Clamping Screw
To fasten the items you are working on, the dowel jig has a large clamping screw that is made of steel. This is so strong that it tightens the tools much the same way as a vise. It eliminates the possibilities of fidgeting and with it, any associated injuries.
Rugged Aluminum Sides
Its rugged Aluminum sides further provide the strength and stability required to work rigorous surfaces. This is because they hold the work securely without necessarily damaging the wood. It, in so doing, improves your safety as well.
- Possesses six permanent drill-hole sizes for you to choose from
- Has no loose parts that may get lost
- Calls for minimal repairs and maintenance
- Very reliable and less likely to break down
- Quite thorough in its actions
- Not for professional use
- Unreliable for demanding tasks
- Too basic in construction and functionality
#11: Big Horn 19695 1/4″ Dowel Drilling Jig Kit
Doweling, as hinted, is ordinarily a complicated task. A starter who has never had any experience in the field may often find it daunting. A tool that is simpler to comprehend and utilize such as this is therefore by all means called for.
Clear Acrylic Plastic Construction
The dowel jig is made of the clear acrylic plastic. This transparency is great for calibration as it reduces the possibilities of ambiguities and inconsistencies arising. You will thus accrue great outcomes indeed.
Hardened Steel Drill Guides
Its drill guides are made of hardened steel materials. Steel, being tough and long-lasting, means you will enjoy the rare privilege of carrying out strong and rigorous works. This is not to mention that it will also withstand long-term use.
In all, the dowel jig has perfect dimensions indeed. It measures ¼ inches and has holes that are located at ¾ inches apart and from the center. This makeup sees to it that you can work out just about any other surface or material.
- Simple to use
- Confers one-stop-shop operations
- Does not require any external measurements and marking
- Great for starters
- Very portable and convenient to carry around
- Unsuitable for complicated tasks
- Possesses limited features
- Not so worthy a purchase
#12: Eagle America 445-7600 Professional Wide Capacity Self-Centering Dowel Jig
Difficult work requires equally tough and reliable tools. A dowel jig of this kind as you is about to see could, in fact, be the reliable companion you may require for the job. For a start, it is pretty strong and reliable enough for rigorous work.
Anodized Aluminum Body
In its entirety, the dowel jig comprises an anodized Aluminum body. This material is quite light in weight. As such, you will not have to expend too much physical energy to engage the dowel jig on the whole. This also spares you from unnecessary fatigue.
Accurate Guide Holes
The dowel jig does come along with some two guide holes that are extremely accurate. These holes are tapped to accommodate the supplied bushings. They jointly let you drill up to three sizes of holes with just one clamping.
Lastly, the dowel jig does incorporate some two bushings. These measure ¼ inches and 5/16 inches, respectively. They are great for working larger and bulkier surfaces. This, in turn, confers the benefit of added convenience.
- Very simple, quick to use, and accurate
- Requires no measurements and calculations
- Delivers nice edge joints, butt, and miter
- Doubles up as a mortising guide
- Generates easier offset holes
- Quite clumsy
- Too demanding to operate smoothly
- A bit expensive
#13: wolfcraft 3751405 Dowel Pro Doweling Kit
You can never afford to gamble with the outcome of your work. This is especially the case for those professional work and tasks. To be guaranteed this, you certainly want a dowel jig that is suited for the same, such as this one.
9 Pre-aligned Hole Guides
Coming in at the top of its key features are 9 pre-aligned hole guides. These are basically used for fixing the surfaces to be worked on in place. They eliminate fidgeting of the said surfaces besides negating the need to personally and individually mark out the dimensions on your own.
Hardened Steel Bushing
Each constituent guide hole is fitted with hardened steel bushing. This is to prolong the lifespan of the holes besides suiting them for the task of enduring the various elements of wear and tear. This also calls for limited maintenance costs.
Innovative Clamp System
Lastly, the dowel jig has a pretty innovative clamp system. This differs markedly from those of ordinary dowel jigs. That is because the system grants you the rare ability to join and drill the boards simultaneously.
- Has a compact design and durable construction
- Expedites precision drilling
- Backed by a generous 5-year warranty
- Clamps, drills, and dowels parts together simply
- Does not require any measurements
- Quite heavy to lift easily
- Takes up plenty of storage space
- Less reputable brand
#14: Kreg K4MS Jig Master System
Working in dirty environments comes with it the need to collect the dust. This is to prevent respiratory tract infections and other hygiene-related sicknesses. This dowel jig has superior dust collection mechanism which suits it for the task.
Patented 3-hole Drill Guide
You will get to enjoy the benefit of making perfectly-placed pocket holes. This is due to the fact that the dowel jig does have three patented drill guides that you may utilize. They also allow for use across several materials.
1/8-inch Incremental Settings
Apart from making perfect pocket holes, you will also enjoy the advantage of being able to adjust and set the working conditions appropriately. This is by reason of these 18-inch incremental settings. The settings accommodate materials that measure 1/2-inch to 1-1/2-inch thickness.
Large Clamping Recess
Perhaps its most notable trait is the fact that it accommodates large surfaces at a time. The large clamping recess makes this possible. It also enables you to work with many different styles of clamps.
- Reduces wood chips to leave behind a clean work surface
- Fits the bench-top and is portable use
- Great for consistently repeated hole spacing
- Results in minimal bit deflection
- Reduced tear-outs
- Features a lifetime warranty
- Quite weighty (weighs 5.86 pounds/2.66kg)
- Not accepted universally
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Q1. Are dowel jigs really great?
YES, they are great! Their roles in keeping the work surface safe, intact, and less fidgety cannot at all be downplayed or wished away. They also minimize damages and other dangers that may often arise at such times.
Q2. How much expertise do I require to engage one?
This depends largely on the type of the jig you use and the quality of the final outcome you intend to achieve. Be sure to ascertain both first and foremost before proceeding to acquire the right one.
Q3. What are some of the dangers of utilizing these dowel jigs?
As stated, they are potentially injurious due to their movable parts and nature of drilling work as a whole. You should, therefore, put appropriate arrangements to keep off these dangers.
Q4. What else must I acquire to be able to use the implements well?
You must acquire the right protective gears like aprons, goggles, gloves, overalls, and helmets. These play a vital role in shielding you from the dust, wood chips, and other contaminants.
Q5. How much space do I need to store these dowel jigs when not in use?
The amount of space depends largely on the size of the dowel jig. Being diverse in size, this amount of space also differs markedly. You determine the size of the dowel before determining the amount of space to set aside.
It is certainly not in doubt that you have indeed received the required guidance and assistance. You may now go ahead and make the right purchasing decision.
In case you have any doubts, you may consider the MICROJIG DVC-525K2 MATCHFIT Dovetail Clamps for Wood Dovetail Track. This dowel jig confers consistent pressure which is great for robust outcomes. All the best in your next search!
David has been working with tool for last 7 years. This resource from his work experience with tools. In his personal life, he is the father of one child.