drilling alignment tool

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Forum topic by parkertables posted 03-20-2011 05:19 AM 5265 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View parkertables's profile


19 posts in 2863 days

03-20-2011 05:19 AM

I am looking for a tool that can help in aligning newly made leafs for old dining tables. Typical “dowel it” center drilling jigs can be inaccurate and leave the tops uneven. Even 1/32” is to much on a veneered table top.


12 replies so far

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3080 days

#1 posted 03-20-2011 05:44 AM

I have spent many countless hours and hair pulling (expression. It’s hard for me to pull hair when I don’t have any) trying to find an answer to the exact prblem you’re having. Nowadays I use simple center point type dowels markers to drill holes for dowels when I don’t have to have exact accuracy.
When I need things alligned more accurately though, I use a well set up biscuit joiner.


View parkertables's profile


19 posts in 2863 days

#2 posted 03-20-2011 05:52 AM

A biscuit joiner would work on a totally new job for glueing up, but when you have an antique table, trying to match up existing pegs with as yet to be drilled holes, let the hair pulling begin. I always use the quarter test afterwards. If it slides across your successful, if it jumps, not. On a solid wood table you can do some sanding to get that last 64th. But when its venered, whew!! But you have given me food for thought, thanks.


View William's profile


9950 posts in 3080 days

#3 posted 03-20-2011 06:08 AM

I’ve never worked with an antique table, but my thoughts were that if the depth was set up correctly, you could match them from the existing table to the wings.
However, I just thought about a potential issue. Are these wings permanently attached or are they removeable?
I wish I had a better answer for you. I have tried several doweling jigs without much success. With most of them I’ve tried (even one very expensive one on my budget) I could have gotten the hole more accurate by shooting them with a .38 pistol from 25 yards away.


View parkertables's profile


19 posts in 2863 days

#4 posted 03-20-2011 06:20 AM

Nice!! I likes that idea. The same should work with a .25 eh??


View DIYaholic's profile


19741 posts in 2912 days

#5 posted 03-20-2011 07:01 AM

I’ve been scratching my head over this one for two years! I’ll be watching this for a definitive answer.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18423 posts in 3913 days

#6 posted 03-20-2011 10:32 AM

Not sure if you want to chance it, but drilling all the way through the leaf will give you a pilot hole. With a long drill with the leaf up against the perfectly aligned table top, drill the other hole. How does that idea sound? ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3080 days

#7 posted 03-20-2011 12:00 PM

While I’ve never tried the pistol powered dowel hole maker idea, I was thinking .38 because it’d be closer to the 3/8” size of the dowel I use the most.


View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3982 days

#8 posted 03-20-2011 02:04 PM

If I understand you, you’re just making a new leaf. The existing table top should have pegs on one side and holes on the other. I use the dowel center points (they come in several sizes). Put the dowel center in the hole and close it against the leaf, and it will give you your drill point.

But in order to do it this way, you have to cut off the existing pegs, drill them out, mark the points on the leaf, then replace the pegs.
Clear as mud?

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3306 days

#9 posted 03-20-2011 03:24 PM

How about cutting off the old pins and sanding them flush; laying the old top and new leaf upside down on your dead-flat work table, and; using doweling jig inserts to mark your new centers.

That should give you a nearly perfect location for the new alignment holes The holes have to be drilled so they’re perfectly horizontal. Misalignment can also happen if the dowels are at a slight angle. This can be fixed by sanding a taper into the exposed part of the dowels. (The alignment only has to be perfect at the lower part of the dowel.)

Most tables I’ve worked with have metal or wood alignment “tabs” screwed to the bottom of the table top. These can also affect the leaf alignment if they a little “off”.

Finally, is 1/32” all that bad? It’s wood, after all, and there will always be some “wiggle” as time goes by. Is it realistic to expect perfect alignment forever?

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2922 days

#10 posted 03-20-2011 09:44 PM

I did it once but it took some time. that veneer on the existing top is the achillies heel (otherwise simple to put it together and sand away).

I’d say use drill points on the existing dowels to get a mark on the new leaf, then drill it. Then go to work on the new leaf to adjust the hole/sand to fit flush (if you need to enlarge the hole, toothpicks work great as a filler). At the end I taped the old table edge to protect it then carefully sanded the leaf with 220 grit, keeping an eye on the tape. On a flat table surface even I would care about 1/32nd difference (hate to see the mashed potatoes catch the edge on turkey day).

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3276 days

#11 posted 03-20-2011 10:08 PM

My Rogers Doweling machine would do the job for you. The surface on my edge joint glue up’s are within .003” over six feet. If you can find someone with a ShopSmith I am sure they could set up to drill holes withen +/- 1/64”

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View parkertables's profile


19 posts in 2863 days

#12 posted 03-21-2011 12:03 AM

I knew that was coming, it was only a matter of time. And yes, a 32nd is bad when you have a client that takes a quarter out of their pocket and slides it across the table. I found a jig in the UK called the joint-genie. Its pretty cool and has a demo video. You all should check it out. I am considering a purchase once I do a little more research on the seller. I am also in the process of developing a jig that may solve this problem. I was hoping there would be one commercially available as opposed to designing and manufacturing my own. I am glad to have found LJ, and appreciate all of the input on this subject. Maybe we can all come up with one jig that will sell to every wood shop in the world. Then retire and build what we want. It’s a nice dream anyway.


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