What is rule of thumb for no. dowels to use?

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Forum topic by GusG posted 04-06-2013 01:21 PM 1177 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View GusG's profile


15 posts in 1892 days

04-06-2013 01:21 PM


For joining say a 5” wide apron to a leg. How many dowels should be used? I have read various articles and they all give different recommendations. The boards are of course 3/4” wide so I will be using 3/8” dowels.

Some say it should be based on how heavy the table top is? Another approach is to place a dowel in from the edge about 1/4 the width of the apron and the gap between dowels should be no more than 4”. So I was going to place a dowel about an 1” in from each side. This leaves a 3” gap between the 2 dowels. Would this be sufficient. The project will be make out of oak.


8 replies so far

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 2017 days

#1 posted 04-06-2013 01:25 PM

Not sure if its right or wrong, but in similar situations, I put as many dowels as I can 3/4” apart.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#2 posted 04-06-2013 01:56 PM

I totally agree with James. I would use 2… 3 if you’re the overkill type.

I don’t have any real rule of thumb for spacing. It just depends on the situation.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View GusG's profile


15 posts in 1892 days

#3 posted 04-06-2013 02:02 PM

I will go with 2 dowels then.

Thanks for the advice guys.

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2575 days

#4 posted 04-06-2013 05:56 PM

Just preference, but I put as many as I can fit, probably 4 in a 5” wide joint.
The more support the better IMHO.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3575 days

#5 posted 04-06-2013 06:20 PM

Sorry I’m not a fan of dowels so I’d go with 0 dowels and 1 loose tenon

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View GusG's profile


15 posts in 1892 days

#6 posted 04-06-2013 06:39 PM

Unfortunately, I have not learned to make tenons of any sort yet. Taking baby steps with dowels first.

Btw, I will be using brad point drill bit and they say you are suppose to leave a 1/16’ gap at the end to allow the excess glue to reside. On a brad point drill bit, the centre of it is the pilot which is a little longer than the drill bit itself. So for a 1” hole on one mating piece and 1/16” for the gap at the end, do I use the centre point of the brad drill bit to measure the extra 1/16” gap? The dowels I will be using are the ones from Lee Valley that have fiutes.

View killerKiteh's profile


36 posts in 1904 days

#7 posted 04-06-2013 06:48 PM

Gus, If you draw bore the joints, I would use 1/2” or 5/8” (just one).


-- "I get more done in a week, than most do before 9am"

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3575 days

#8 posted 04-06-2013 06:58 PM

Here’s something that can help when you are ready for loose tenons.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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