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DIY Precision Dowel Jig

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Project by BRAVOGOLFTANGO posted 01-29-2013 05:34 AM 6524 views 23 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Built this 3/8” 4-pin Dowel Jig out of 1” oak scraps, 1/2” steel tubing for the guides and 1/4” alum rods for the dowel spacer guides. I wanted to try something different than tongue & groove for my fourth storage bench lids.

Designed the jig on Sketchup and threw it together in an evening. I have since replaced the tap-in pronged T-Nuts with screw in type t-nuts which hold up much better. It works fantastic, my first trials required some tweaking, I didn’t
have the 3/8” (1/2 tubing) exactly dimensioned from the edge on each side. Reworked it to 5/16” on each side and it works wonders now. Aligning the guides was really tough on a Craftsman benchtop drill press, they are nearly perfectly vertically aligned with one being off less than 1/64” of an inch which hasn’t made a difference with the dowels thus far.

It was a fun project to build, not really a dowel fan so far, but I just wanted to see if it could be done. Oh yeah the cool thing is I made this for my most popular project mediums, starting with dead-stopping the fence (fully closed I guess) it’s setup for 3/4” material which I use a lot and scribed for centerline and then it’s adjustable to whatever sized medium from there. I have a woodworking auto-adjusting clamp ordered which is a little easier than the F-Style clamps. I slotted then grooved the base underside @3/8” deep and 3/4” wide for the fence slide.

Funny part – I had just finished watching “Conan the Barbarian” for the 20th time and decided to go back to the shop and finish this jig, well having seen the steel working going on in the foretold barbaric movie, decided I’d DIY harden the carbon steel 1/2”/3/8” tubing. So I set all four guides (prior jig insertion) on a stainless platform and heated them with my MAP-GAS to a bright red, then placed them in 30 wt motor oil to temper. Haha, honestly I don’t know if I made them harder or tempered them, but they were pitch black now and the look on my wife’s face coming into the garage seeing smoke and fire from nearly molten metal in oil was priceless :)...

This jigs sea-trials were successful on my wife’s custom storage bench I designed for her.





18 comments so far

View trasner's profile

trasner

62 posts in 1558 days


#1 posted 01-29-2013 06:20 AM

Brett, Very cool. Looks like a wooden version of the JessEm Paralign except for a fraction of the cost. Glad it worked out. Love the bench..

-- Todd

View BRAVOGOLFTANGO's profile

BRAVOGOLFTANGO

271 posts in 654 days


#2 posted 01-29-2013 06:34 AM

Thanks Todd, it was a cool, fun little project. I’m headlong into building the Pantorouter right now, holy cow what a complex lil bugger of a machine. I’m assembling sub-structures though, all the parts are cut, etc, hardware ready, etc, etc. Can’t wait to do some cool mortise & tenon joints with it.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112075 posts in 2228 days


#3 posted 01-29-2013 06:50 AM

Nice work good work.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Bill_N's profile

Bill_N

234 posts in 930 days


#4 posted 01-29-2013 11:30 AM

Haven’t done many dowel projects
looks like this could make them easier
nice work

-- I have the Saw Dust Fever

View foneman's profile

foneman

111 posts in 2746 days


#5 posted 01-29-2013 01:44 PM

You have done an excellent job on this!!! I hope to make one similar someday!!! Did you use any particular 1/2” tubing for the guides and does that size have 3/8” internal dimension without any reaming? Thanks for posting. john

OH yea, great job on the bench too!!!

View BRAVOGOLFTANGO's profile

BRAVOGOLFTANGO

271 posts in 654 days


#6 posted 01-29-2013 01:56 PM

Thanks Bill,

I don’t know honestly if it’s easier, the tongue & groove method used on my first bench lid was much faster, but there is some inherent strength here that seems stronger with doweling. The true benchmark of that strength for me is I’ve built four of these benches with various lids and everyone loved the stripped decking/butcher block appearance on the lids.

First bench lid I used 3/4” x 1-1/2” SYP with 3/8” deep tongue & groove, they came out aligned great but I noticed on glue-up it bowed pretty easy, so decided to tongue & groove a lateral edge piece (both sides), this super strengthened the entire piece.

VS

This last one for my wife prior adding the side laterals I had 3/4” deep dowels (each side) and on glue up of the main lid body it barely bowed a 1/16” of an inch. I was freaking impressed by that alone, so adding the side laterals was over the top stiffened the entire lid sub-assembly.

Drilling the holes was a bit slow for me, just because I work really fast though and with woodworking that bites me at times..haha, you know where you meant to measure 16” but measured 15” and now have a new scrap piece of wood, lol.

Anyway wood doweling has it’s place in my shop, but I do NOT believe it’s where I want to completely sell my soul to for wood joinery. There is something pure about mortise & tenon joinery, especially with “draw-boarding” m&t joints and kerf/wedging through tenons, just find it beautiful “show-your-work” kind of quality. Albeit, I’m not Moses & if I couldn’t build an Ark with a router vs wooden mallet & chisels, well reckon I’d call AAA.

View BRAVOGOLFTANGO's profile

BRAVOGOLFTANGO

271 posts in 654 days


#7 posted 01-29-2013 02:01 PM

Thank you foneman, I used the 1/2” tubing from either Lowes or Home Depot (can’t remember which) but they are the same. The steel tubing is 1/2” OD & 3/8” ID.

I started to order some nice thread in style insert guides, but couldn’t quantify it using wood, albeit “oak”, had I had a chunk of 1” aluminum, well yeah, I’d have done some things differently maybe.

My initial setup used the aluminum 1/2”/3/8” tubing and was flush 1” thick. It was just a proof-of-concept at that point and I decided that adding 5/16” to the tubing length would provide a better drill guide (which it did). Alum being soft to cut was my reason initially, then switched them to steel tubing.

View foneman's profile

foneman

111 posts in 2746 days


#8 posted 01-29-2013 02:05 PM

Thanks for the update!! I will pick up a piece of that tubing/pipe the next time I am at the hardware store.

john

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

587 posts in 1142 days


#9 posted 01-29-2013 02:11 PM

That’s awesome. I have no excuse to not try and make one of these.

View Bill_N's profile

Bill_N

234 posts in 930 days


#10 posted 01-29-2013 11:08 PM

Remember it is not a 15” piece of scrap it is a new project limited to 15”

Right LOL

-- I have the Saw Dust Fever

View BRAVOGOLFTANGO's profile

BRAVOGOLFTANGO

271 posts in 654 days


#11 posted 01-29-2013 11:14 PM

Sounds legit Bill and sometimes that becomes the project indeed, somethings gotta give somewhere. Tell you what though, using Sketchup is pretty exacting and aside from dohdoh moments I have, the dimensions typically are spot on, now to just get my measuring spot-on! lol

View Bill_N's profile

Bill_N

234 posts in 930 days


#12 posted 01-30-2013 10:40 PM

Yelp I like sketchup also
It can be a real help sometimes

-- I have the Saw Dust Fever

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

587 posts in 1142 days


#13 posted 01-30-2013 10:53 PM

I just can’t seem to get the hang of Sketchup enough to make it more than an obstacle.

View BRAVOGOLFTANGO's profile

BRAVOGOLFTANGO

271 posts in 654 days


#14 posted 01-31-2013 01:38 AM

Definitely Bill and William I almost thought it was just a blah program, but I did some YouTube searching and wow, there are some good vids to teach you the basics and a setup for woodworking as well.

That said I have a lot to learn with it, I do find it has some wierd non-real AutoCAD issues with snapping lines now and then, but it’s probably my needing to learn more. I’ve used it on my last six woodworking projects to a great success and I’m just a beginner with it. You might just give it another chance and do some YouTube searching.

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

587 posts in 1142 days


#15 posted 01-31-2013 01:52 AM

yeah I’ve just got to overcome the crustiness in my brain and buckle down. The guys over on the machining forum I frequent swear by it also.

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