Dowels and holes

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Forum topic by thelt posted 04-05-2009 02:51 PM 5883 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View thelt's profile


665 posts in 3578 days

04-05-2009 02:51 PM

This may sound silly to some of you, but it’s a problem to me.

I recently drilled a 1/4” hole using a brad point 1/4” bit on my drill press. This was for a dowel to help strengthen a joint. Turns out the 1/4” hole was too large for a 1/4” dowel. The dowel did not fit tight but was rather loose. Sort of like cutting a 3/4” dado for 3/4” plywood. That don’t work either.

Are there different bits for each size dowel? I know this may sound elementary to you guys, but, the next size down in my drill index is absolutely too small. Can anybody tell me what I’m doing wrong?

-- When asked what I did to make life worthwhile in my lifetime....I can respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served a career in the United States Navy."

8 replies so far

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3902 days

#1 posted 04-05-2009 03:12 PM

I use the next size down, then chuck the dowel (with a little extra length) in the hand drill and sand it till it fits. I think if you have a full set of drills (Fractions, numbers, and letters) maybe you could find one close enough, but I havent seen that offered in brad points only twist drills

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View Boardman's profile


157 posts in 3959 days

#2 posted 04-05-2009 03:22 PM

Dowels aren’t made to very tight tolarances at all, and can vary widely from supplier to supplier. It’s best to buy dowels in the small pkgs. that are specifically made for dowel joints – they will be uniform and the correct diameter. The 3’ dowel rods you find at the BORGs just don’t work.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3942 days

#3 posted 04-05-2009 03:24 PM

I use a 15/64” drill bit for the so called 1/4” dowels. I think that a lot of these come from over seas, so they’re metric. Also, some of the dowels just are made with very close tolerances. I use a dowel plate and make most of my dowels out of the same wood that I’m working with. You can be sure to get the right size and a good straight grain.
Lee Valley sells very nice brad point drills in standard and metric sizes, but not numbered or lettered.

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3918 days

#4 posted 04-05-2009 03:27 PM

Boardman hit it dead center. If you use the 3’ dowels use bayspt’s method.

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

View Karson's profile


35146 posts in 4598 days

#5 posted 04-05-2009 03:43 PM

I like Tim’s idea of a dowel plate to resize dowels. At the wood shop making toys for kids we needed some resized dowels and I welded a nut on a piece of plate steel and used a press to press the short dowels through the nut. We captured them in a bucket, We squeezed them a little and when the glue hit, they swelled up again so we got a great fit.

I also have spun a long dowel through a liece of light weight metal that I drilled my own holes in. When you drill into some light weight metal you get burs on the out side. I use those burs to cut the dowel as it’s being spun with a drill.

Those pictures were from making a Blackwood wooden dowel pin for a wooden hinge. I drilled a series of holes and kept going to the next smaller until the wood was round. That was the size hole I drilled in the hinge.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View CharlieM1958's profile


16280 posts in 4416 days

#6 posted 04-05-2009 03:47 PM

I use the the short dowel pins that are manufactured just for this purpose. They are inexpensive, properly sized, and they have ridges to keep all the glue from squeezing out when you tap them in.

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

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3656 days

#7 posted 04-05-2009 04:00 PM

I’ve been looking for an excuse to build a jig for making dowels…

I haven’t needed a ton of dowels yet, so it is still on my list.
but this idea is what I plan on using.

-- San Diego, CA

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3554 days

#8 posted 04-05-2009 04:13 PM

I use the 8×30 dowels and never had a problem. I can say they fit snug and need a tap in. I never had a problem with them being loose. Maybe your not buying good quality dowels.. remember they should have grooves and a taper at each end. They should also be made of hardwood. This is critical when it comes to expansion and retraction. I know metric is a pain when it comes to measuring but there really is no measuring. Just center and thats all.You can buy tham bulk here

Hardwood dowels

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

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