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Probably not a new idea, but has anyone seen or done this before...?

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Forum topic by Jonathan posted 04-28-2010 04:46 PM 1454 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2511 days


04-28-2010 04:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: miter key dowel joinery box frame glue question new technique

I was thinking about methods of joinery that I have not yet attempted, and it’s a long list, believe me!

More specifically, I was thinking about attempting keyed miter joints.

I was walking around the lumber store and saw the bins of dowels sitting there and that got me thinking: What about using a dowel as the key for the miter joint, rather than filling the kerf with a thin, flat piece of wood, as done in the customary method?

Can you envision what I’m describing here? Cut your miters at 45-degrees like you would for a normal box (or whatever it is your joining at 90-degrees). Then, instead of turning it on its side and running it through the table saw in your jig, you drill a hole all the way through both pieces. I guess it would sort of look like a pockethole, since you’d be drilling at an angle.

I’m sure it’d be more difficult than a regular saw kerf miter key (or whatever you want to call it), but has anyone ever seen or done this before? Although in allowing the glue to dry at the miter joint first, then going back and drilling a hole and sliding in the corresponding dowel, I don’t suppose it’s that much different, other than the tools used? Just a different design element, I suppose.

What do you think?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."


11 replies so far

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NewPickeringWdWrkr

338 posts in 2474 days


#1 posted 04-28-2010 05:22 PM

Neat idea. Assuming you’re drilling in away from the corner you would end up with oval keys. I would say if you’re going for a small key, you would use a smaller dowel than you think as the surface area of the oval would be much bigger.

Of course, you have to make sure you don’t drill too far in from the corner or you would break into the inside corner; but that bears pondering for a look all it’s own. hmmm … now you have my thoughts churning on the possibilities. :-)

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs http://anterosurbanwooddesigns.com

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stefang

15512 posts in 2795 days


#2 posted 04-28-2010 05:36 PM

This can be done Jonathan and it would probably look good too. The main problem to overcome would be blowout where the drill exits on the opposite side of the corner. To do this you would have to clamp a back-up piece of ply for example to the exit side and I would also use a smaller bits and work my way up to the final size in increments to insure perfect holes. I suggest you try it on a test mitered corner first as a bad hole would ruin the look. It would also be best to hold the box in some kind of jig and use a drill press because it isn’t easy to drill perfect angles like that freehand. Someone else might have an easier way to do this, but it’s all I could think about. Good luck with your project and I look forward to seeing how it came out!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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jm82435

1284 posts in 3203 days


#3 posted 04-28-2010 05:39 PM

Works and looks great. can also use a combination of splines and dowels. I will look for the jig I use and send you a pic.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 2942 days


#4 posted 04-28-2010 05:57 PM

I’ve done keyed miters a different way (http://lumberjocks.com/projects/11122 the second box has dovetailed keys along the cornors) If you’re talking about going the length of the joint (making a round spline in stead of a rectangular one) then I’d say, go ahead and cut your miters, glue the box up then drill the hole for the dowel. It will be a lot easier then trying to drill it before glue up. The difficult part will be making sure the bit stayes straight all the way through from top to bottom. If you’ve got the time, you could try to make a router jig to hold the sides and you a round tip bit to cut the opening. Good luck, I hope you get it figured out, I’d like to see the results.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2535 days


#5 posted 04-28-2010 06:29 PM

Neat idea. If I were doing this I would drill a small hole all the way through. I would probably get some blowout where it comes out but it would be very small. Then I would drill in from both sides with the diameter I want for the dowels. There should be no blowout. Due to the guide hole they should line up. If not, I would probably put a small piece of dowel in at each end. If you have glued your miters properly, the dowel is not necessary for strength. It’s only for show.

Drilling at 45 degrees can be tricky. The joint has to be firmly secured to avoid any movement. This is a situation where I would go to the old Shopsmith and bore horizontally.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jonathan's profile

Jonathan

2608 posts in 2511 days


#6 posted 04-29-2010 12:00 AM

I was not planning on attempting this immediately as I don’t have a project for it right now. I’d experiment, but I’ve got plenty to do on the bookcases and adjoining mantel surround. I need to show my wife some progress on that as she’s been very patient.

In reading through the above comments, I’m thinking about eventually trying this in the following order:

Cut my miters.
Glue up and clamp the miters.
Secure the miter to be drilled on my new (used) drill press and tilt the table (I think I can tilt it far enough), along with a sacrificial backer board to help prevent blowout.
Use one of my new forstner bits to drill a hole through the miter that is the size of the dowel.
Load up the dowel with glue, tap it into the hole, wipe away any excess glue, then let the glue set.
Flush trim the dowel with my flush trim handsaw, or use the router.
Sand it until it’s perfectly flush and smooth.
Take some pictures for you all.
Post the pictures.

Does that seem about right?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2535 days


#7 posted 04-29-2010 03:20 PM

Sounds like it will work. Be advised that often dowels are not exactly the diameter they say they are. Check your dowel in advance to be certain that it will fit snugly (but not too tight) in a hole drilled by your bit.

Also – you will only need a couple small drops of glue. Your phrase “load up the dowel with glue” sounds like you are going to use a lot more glue than you need. There will be no pressure on this dowel to move.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View bhack's profile

bhack

349 posts in 3181 days


#8 posted 04-29-2010 03:43 PM

I use the “dowl-it” jig to do precisely that. You can google it get more info about the product. I just used it to make a picture frame and banding for new drill press table.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

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stefang

15512 posts in 2795 days


#9 posted 04-29-2010 07:31 PM

Jonathan, I think Rich’s suggestion to drill a small pilot hole and then drill the final hole from both sides is a good idea. I should have thought of that myself. Even with a backer, you sometimes will still get some blowout.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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ShannonRogers

540 posts in 3249 days


#10 posted 04-29-2010 10:59 PM

Interesting idea and a unique look. I think you would need more than just a backer board underneath the cut but something butting up along the side of the cut too. Especially if, like a miter key, you want the dowel visible across the joint. I think taking a scrap piece and cutting a v notch in it that will clamp along the miter would give you greater drilling surface. You could also then drill into a 90 degree face instead of risking the slippage of drilling at an angle. Not sure if this makes sense outside my own head but I would love to see what this looks like.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at www.renaissancewoodworker.com

View jm82435's profile

jm82435

1284 posts in 3203 days


#11 posted 04-30-2010 01:21 AM

Wow, Shopguryl, I have one just like that, made from a 2×4. I use for this and for splines, both dovetail and straight splines. I thought I had the only one. I use a bradpoint and go all the way though.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

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