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How to do end-to-face dowel joints when you don't have a drill press?

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Forum topic by HarveyDunn posted 02-16-2014 03:00 AM 981 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


02-16-2014 03:00 AM

The only dowel joints I have ever done were through dowels. Easy-peasy.

Now I want to move on to blind dowels. I suppose that means buying a jig. And some transfer points.

As I understand it, if you are doing end-to-face dowel joints, you use the jig to drill the holes into the end piece, then you insert the transfer points in to the holes and apply the piece to its mate, and give it a little rap to make divots that mark the exact centers of where the holes should go on the face board. Then you take the face board to the drill press and drill the holes.

But I do not have a drill press. And I imagine that that if I try to position any kind of jig or drill guide on the face board, I wont actually be able to see the divots.

I know there are some pretty expensive doweling jig out there – do they solve this problem for me?


15 replies so far

View reedwood's profile

reedwood

880 posts in 1327 days


#1 posted 02-16-2014 04:06 AM

dowel points…Ha! I remember those.
more like happy home owner wanna be woodworker shiny lures in the tool aisle!

But, don’t feel bad, we all bought em and never used them,

Once we realized they make dowel jigs with adjustable inserts and brad point drill bits with stop collars.
No need for a drill press, just mark the location on the surface of both pieces and drill away.

My alum. jig has two holes about 1 1/2 apart so I can drill two at a time. Check out a pocket hole jig while you’re looking. Much easier than dowels too.

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.

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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


#2 posted 02-16-2014 04:19 AM

I definitely do NOT want to use pocket hole screws for this project.

Can you give the me the name of the dowel jig you are talking about so I can see how it works?

You say “just mark the location on the surface of both pieces and drill away”. Am I marking the centers of the holes? If so, I don’t see how I know I’ve got them correct – being off by just a little will screw up the joint.

Or am I marking something with regard to the exterior of the jig I’m using (or some reference mark on that jig) that is easier to get right?

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reedwood

880 posts in 1327 days


#3 posted 02-16-2014 04:31 AM

no problem just suggesting you take a look at the jig.
I agree, I don’t use pocket screws to attach face frames or on upper face frames with glass doors….or furniture.

Several big box stores sell dowel jigs.

I googled self centering dowel jigs and found all kinds of them from 15.00 to 59..00

The one I have is a Dowl-it. There is a centering mark on the jig that lines up with your pencil mark. It clamps down and centers the hole so, no need for centering dowel points, which aren’t very accurate anyway.

butt the two pieces together as you want them and mark the center of the dowel across both pieces with a sharp pencil.
It doesn’t even have to be centered, but I’m so anal I always mark it centered for one or two dowels.

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.

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ajosephg

1852 posts in 2212 days


#4 posted 02-16-2014 04:31 AM

I mark the hole with a dowel point, then rough locate the drill jig leaving it loose, insert a brad point drill in the jig and slide the jig until the point of the drill bit “finds” the divot. Tighten the drill jig and drill away. For maximum accuracy align the long dimension of the drill point with the long dimension of the board.

-- Joe

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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


#5 posted 02-16-2014 04:34 AM

reedwood, I don’t think I follow you. I want to butt an end piece to a face piece – let’s say, a shelf inside a carcase. How do I mark the carcase?

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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


#6 posted 02-16-2014 04:35 AM

ajosefphg, can you feel the brad point locating in the divot left by the dowel point well enough that you don’t need to see it to confirm?

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reedwood

880 posts in 1327 days


#7 posted 02-16-2014 04:44 AM

I thought we were talking about face frames or…boards.

dowels aren’t your best choice for a shelf. can you dado it or make it adjustable?

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.

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ajosephg

1852 posts in 2212 days


#8 posted 02-16-2014 04:50 AM

Harvey – you can feel the bit drop if you offset the jig just a little big and move it slowly in the direction of the divot, Works best with hardwoods because the brad point tends to dig in on softer woods making it hard to slide the jig.

-- Joe

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reedwood

880 posts in 1327 days


#9 posted 02-16-2014 05:01 AM

“being off by just a little will screw up the joint”

That’s my experience with dowel points. It’s not as accurate as just marking dowels on the casework and measuring centers. lay it out with a rule, if you have to use dowels. lousy lateral support.

at least measure and verify your points are accurate and not a stone dent.

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.

View Tork's profile

Tork

7 posts in 232 days


#10 posted 02-16-2014 05:07 AM

You can pick up a Stanley 59 on ebay for cheap. I joined the end table in my profile pick completely with one of those babies—it’s dead on. Just need to mark the two pieces of stock simultaneously and line the jig up and you’re good to go.

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

301 posts in 762 days


#11 posted 02-16-2014 05:12 AM

This is the one I’ve used:

I’m pretty sure its a Record 148. Works very well. If you look at my projects there is a fireplace/shelving unit that was entirely dowelled together using that jig.

-- James

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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


#12 posted 02-16-2014 02:39 PM

Thanks Joe.

Tork, JADobson – thanks, I love vintage tools. Are these just for end work or can I use them on a face board as well?

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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


#13 posted 02-16-2014 03:53 PM

I’ve been doing a bit of Googling. This JessEm Dowelling Jig looks very good (well it would, wouldn’t it – it is their video!). In the second half they demonstrate what I want to do: end-to-face.
http://www.jessemdirect.com/JessEmDowellingJig_p/08350.htm

Anything out there that tops it?

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Loren

7543 posts in 2299 days


#14 posted 02-16-2014 04:00 PM

I have the heavier Jessem jig. It’s pretty nice and can do flush
corner joints as well as t-joints. Most dowel jigs are designed
in such a way that they are only useful for doing door frames
and aligning edge glue-ups. They are still useful, but if you
need a jig for flush carcase corners, the Jessem jigs or a
Dowelmax will do those.

If you just have the one job, you can make a hardwood drill
guide with holes you use as bushings. You’d nail or screw
the guide to the end grain parts to drill and probably just
clamp it where you want to put the shelves. You can also
buy drill bushings on ebay pretty cheap and use those.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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JADobson

301 posts in 762 days


#15 posted 02-16-2014 09:10 PM

Yeah, it can do faces as long as the face is narrow enough to allow the jig to register. The jig in the picture isn’t exactly the same as the one I use. Mine is about 18” long so it can do most things.

-- James

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