How to Mortise a Dowel

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Forum topic by david_larch posted 04-12-2012 10:52 PM 2816 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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102 posts in 2296 days

04-12-2012 10:52 PM

I am looking to re-create an iconic mid century planter, but could use some help. I am hoping to buy pre turned dowels and cutting the cross pieces myself.

Question is: How to mortise these dowels to accept the cross supports? I do not have a router so I am trying to figure out how to make a jig to keep the dowels in one spot while mortising. In theory this jog would also be useful down the road when I can pick up a bench top mortiser. Either way, Id love some suggestions.


5 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2280 days

#1 posted 04-12-2012 11:00 PM

I’d use a drill press with a dowel jig to hold the work and set the stop for half the distance. Assuming you use a 1/4” dowel I’d drill 1/16th” pilot holes first.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 04-12-2012 11:20 PM

You can make a jig to hold round stock for drilling (best use a drill press) by setting your table saw blade to 45 degrees and ripping a V groove in a length of thick stock (piece of 2×4 or 4×4 could work). Just lay the round stock in the groove and hold on.

Are you going to dowel the round stock to the crosspieces? Two dowel pins glued per crosspiece end should work. Using a different wood color, or dye, would look nice. Not sure of the planter scale, but two dowel pins as small as 1/8 inch each diameter, glued through the round stock and into the crosspiece ends has a lot of holding power.

You could actually make through tenons. That would look really cool. Drill a series of holes in each round stock, side by side, then use a chisel to square the sides and ends. It would take some freehand shaping, and time, but could look real nice.

That is a nice clean design. Hope it works out. Post pics when you finish.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View david_larch's profile


102 posts in 2296 days

#3 posted 04-12-2012 11:24 PM

Thanks for the quick replies. I will likely make a few of these so my hope is to mortise the round stock and create a tenon on the cross pieces. That said, I have been thinking that doweling the cross pieces to the round stock would be cool, too. I think I want to make the M/T first to be authentic.

Hilariously, the first (successful) one will be the garbage can in the bathroom I am remodelling in my Mid Century house.


View DS's profile


2916 posts in 2414 days

#4 posted 04-12-2012 11:37 PM

Like David said, a V-block will hold round stock fairly stable for mortising.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View bondogaposis's profile


4717 posts in 2345 days

#5 posted 04-13-2012 12:02 AM

Make a V block and cut the mortises w/ a Forstner bit on the drill press using overlapping holes. Then clean up w/ chisel.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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