Quarter Size Cherry Quilt Chests #5: Fathers Day! MILLER DOWEL UPDATE

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by David posted 06-18-2007 07:12 AM 4939 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Tom's Domino at Work! Part 5 of Quarter Size Cherry Quilt Chests series Part 6: Installing a Makers-Mark »

Happy Fathers Day to all of my LumberJock buddies, and a belated Happy Mothers Day to all of the Lady Jocks!

I am looking forward to using the LumberJock CyberToolShare feature to explore everyone’s shop and check out what goodies you all got for Fathers Day!

I had the privilege and pleasure of spending the last two days working in my shop. I made a lot of progress on my cherry quilt chests. I am under a time crunch as these need to be delivered at the end of the month, so it was great to have some dedicated shop time.

I cut the 1/4 inch cherry plywood panels and applied a coat of finish. I learned to apply pre-finish to the panels so that any slight seasonal change will not expose unfinished plywood. I also did the final fitting of the frames before installing the panels.

I did make a change to my chests by thru pegging the frame mortise and tenons. I am still struggling with square pegs! Something I am going to conquer. I used Miller Dowels to peg the joints. I chose Miller Mini X Walnut Dowels for a nice contrast. Pegging the joints is beneficial for a number of reasons. First, I think it makes a more attractive and traditional joint. Second, I was able to free up my clamps immediately after driving the pegs home. This allowed me to complete all 8 panels in one afternoon. Since I have a limited clamp collection, this was extremely helpful. I guess I will have to find another reason to convince Beth that I need to purchase more clamps! Third, pegging the joints added an additional degree of strength to the mortise and tenon joinery. To help me quickly locate the peg holes, I made a couple of quick jigs out of scrap 1/4 inch MDF hardboard.

UPDATE – Thanks to questions from Neil of Furnitology fame!

I have included some info from the Miller Dowel website for clarification. This is not my info and is provided here for project stimulation. I don’t think the folks at Miller Dowel will mind as I believe this will stimulate a number of LumberJocks using this great joinery system.

Link to the MILLER DOWEL DEMO (from the Miller Dowel Company website)

I did learn that I do not like my Stanley Flush Cut Pull Saw. I purchased this before reading Chris Schwarz review in Woodworking Magazine Weblog. This was the first project I used the saw. It has a tendency of leaving saw marks when flush cutting. Don’t buy this saw. I will be looking for a new flush cut saw right away! After some additional gentle sanding the joints turned out great.

Frames and Panels ready for pegging with finished test panel for comparison

Finishing Supplies

Walnut Miller Mini X Dowels, Miller Drill Bit, awl and MDF jigs

Marking Dowel Holes with awl and MDF jig

Close-up of Miller Drill Bit and Walnut Mini X Dowel (dill removed for clarity)

Close-up of drilled dowel hole in stile and rail tenon

Flush cutting dowel ends

Dowel cut flush (cut-off sitting off to the side) – some minor saw marks from the “flush cut saw”!

Dowel pegged mortise and tenon joint

The Miller Mini X Dowel Kit


11 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4063 days

#1 posted 06-18-2007 07:17 AM

Great project David. Have you considered a Japanese Saw. Mine seems to work pretty well. Also a sharp chisel may be better than your Stanley saw.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4105 days

#2 posted 06-18-2007 08:38 AM

Wayne -

Good advise. I will look into the Japanese saws. The saw marks were not too bad. My expectation was none with a flush cut saw. I thought of a chisel but prefer the finesse and control of a thin fine saw.


View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4127 days

#3 posted 06-18-2007 11:40 AM

finished product looks wonderful…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Tony's profile


983 posts in 3996 days

#4 posted 06-18-2007 12:21 PM

David. Have you tried some thick paper -120g between the blade and the finished surface. However, as Wayne suggested Japanese Saws – I would be lost without mine – I would suggest getting both a Crosscut and Rip sawaw (If you make dovetails) – not a combi – the extra coxt is worth it.

I would leave the dowel proud about a 0.3mm (1/64) and make the final adjustment with a wide blade chaisel and sand paper.

I like the chest by the way

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View furnitologist's profile


198 posts in 3979 days

#5 posted 06-18-2007 12:46 PM

Hi David:

It’s early and the visual ability of the mind seems a bit slow this morning. I need a bit of help!!!

The Miller dowel is used in 3/4”(?) or thicker stock as part of the mortice tenon joint…....I’m assuming you drill through and insert the selected dowel through the hole and cut off both ends?? Is that correct?? Or is there a specific dowel for 3/4 stock, that bottoms out?? The shape of the dowel has me confused I think????

Application question… you see where a force fit of the Miller Dowel jig, could be used in the Joinery challenge?? Say you ran a rabbet and doweled the face of the rabbet, then ran a miller dowell from the side through an end panel into the shoulder of the rabbet?? What do you think?????


View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4265 days

#6 posted 06-18-2007 12:51 PM

David, A well put together blog.
I was going to suggest what Tony said, but pick up a set of cheap, or old playing cards. They make an ideal protector for your surface. You have to finish sand the dowels after cutting anyway.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4105 days

#7 posted 06-18-2007 05:11 PM

Tony and Dick – Great advise! Thanks. I am going to go shopping for a Japanese flush cut saw and cheap deck of cards. The Miller Mini X dowel will neatly fit thru a 1/4 inch paper punched hole in a playing card.

Neil – Good morning! Great questions. I am going to update this entry, because I realize from your questions that Miller Dowels would be a great idea for the joinery challenge this summer. The Mini X is perfect for 1/2 – 3/4 inch stock. My application is a modified use of the Miller Mini X. I supported my M&T frames on the backside and drilled thru the frame mortise and tenon. I used the Miller Mini X as a thru peg and cut off both ends flush.

Miller Dowels are awesome. They allowed my clamp deficient shop to complete all eight panels in one afternoon!


View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4052 days

#8 posted 06-18-2007 06:03 PM


Great blog. I have the Stanley flush cut. I bought it for cutting trim when installing hardwood floors and tile in my house. I used it once to flush cut some dowels on a threshold and that was the last time I used it for flush cutting.

I like the Miller dowels. I immediately thought of the summer challenege when I saw them. I was especially happy to see some for exterior use. My project is going to be entered in both categories and these will be perfect. I was already planning on pegging but these will save me from having to make 100 1 1/2” pegs. Nice selection of exterior species….ouch on the price though. I don’t think I’ll be buying the teak.

One comment: No glue in the joinery challenge folks, remember that.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4105 days

#9 posted 06-18-2007 06:16 PM

Thanks Bob!

In my excitement, I forgot about the glue. I still think the Miller Dowels will be a great idea. They are a very snug fit and will swell with ambient moisture in the air. I use them a lot in my shop.


View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4002 days

#10 posted 06-18-2007 08:15 PM

Great work David. I usually take most of the dowel off with a Japanese pull saw and then pare it off with a sharp chisel so there is no sanding…annnndddd…in reading the responses as I type (gotta multitask) that advise has been mentioned. They sure do add a real eye candy “pop” to the joint. I haven’t used Miller Dowels before but have looked at them a bit. They look pretty cool. Being able to hammer them home and then take the clamps off is pretty cool!

Thanks for the writeup!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4366 days

#11 posted 06-18-2007 11:45 PM

David great blog. With added info on the Miller System. I’ve seen them before but nevery used them.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics