Anyone use dowel centers?

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    Internet Fact Checker
    • Dec 2002
    • 21104
    • Katy, TX, USA.
    • BT3000 vintage 1999

    Anyone use dowel centers?

    They're inexpensive and a great way to line up dowels for assemblies where dowel jigs don't necessarily work.
    I have sets of four sizes 1/4". 5/16". 3/8" and 1/2"
    Pretty much I have only used the 1/4" and only ever needed four, so I went overboard
    A set of four 1/4" ones is a really cheap woodworking accessory.

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    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
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  • twistsol
    Veteran Member
    • Dec 2002
    • 2912
    • Cottage Grove, MN, USA.
    • Ridgid R4512, 2x ShopSmith Mark V 520, 1951 Shopsmith 10ER

    I have a set and used them occasionally (mostly for dowels in cabinet face frames) before I bought my Domino. My set is 8 pieces, a pair of each in 4 different sizes. They work surprisingly well for something as simple as they are.
    An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
    A moral man does it.


    • cwsmith
      Veteran Member
      • Dec 2005
      • 2745
      • NY Southern Tier, USA.
      • BT3100-1

      I have a nine piece set, three each of 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 inches. Made of bright steel. (they're magnetic and look more like aluminum). I keep them in a jar, here on the shelf next to some 5/16 dowels I had left over from building the upstairs library. I'm thinking there was more of them, as having only three each seems a bit odd, but it's been about fifteen years since I last used them. If there were more than that, I'll sure I will magically discover them one day along with all the other object that I've misplaced over the years.

      I do have a biscuit joiner which I purchase soon after I started that project, using it to assemble the window seats and the storage area in the cookbook room

      Last edited by cwsmith; 05-02-2024, 12:11 PM. Reason: Correction of dowel center sizes.
      Think it Through Before You Do!


      • LCHIEN
        LCHIEN commented
        Editing a comment
        not seen 3/16 dowels.... probably 1/4"?

      • cwsmith
        cwsmith commented
        Editing a comment
        I stand corrected!

        Must have been a bad day... I measured the inside of the dowel center, not the outside diameter. Obvviously not thinking. What through me off was that the four dowels that I had in the same container measured 5/16 diameter.... probably because they shrank in size over the last dozen years or so.

    • dbhost
      Slow and steady
      • Apr 2008
      • 9256
      • League City, Texas
      • Ryobi BT3100

      I have a set, I use them on those wierd projects like my T clocks there a doweling jig just won't work...
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      • leehljp
        Just me
        • Dec 2002
        • 8470
        • Tunica, MS
        • BT3000/3100

        I have used them too, in the past. Since purchasing a biscuit joiner back in the early '90s, I haven't used dowels much since. OH, Just remembered, I did use some about 7 or 8 years ago when I made a set of bunk beds for my daughter's home. I used the dowel centers to locate the holes for guides for mounting the bunk bed posts onto one another.
        Hank Lee

        Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


        • dbhost

          Editing a comment
          I sort of agree on the biscuit joiner, but when you are going end grain to cross grain those dowel joints are going to be a lot stronger, still not perfect but a lot better than a biscuit.... And trust me, I LOVE my biscuit joiner even though there are those that hate them... Now if only someone would make an affordable domino like floating tenon cutter priced more like the Ryobi Buscuit joiner and a LOT less like the Festool item....
      • jacobs
        Forum Newbie
        • Apr 2024
        • 7

        havent tried it before , is it good one ?


        • d_meister
          Established Member
          • Feb 2009
          • 197
          • La Conner, WA.
          • BT3000

          I've used dowels for over 50 years. In my 20's, I made a large shelf unit for my LP record collection out of 1'x12' pine, but I didn't want the edges hanging over so I glued and doweled 1'x2' to the edge to make it wider. I got carried away and doweled every joint and had no metal fasteners. That cabinet is still with me after moving house maybe 10 times, and no joints have let go.
          I am just finishing the build on a shop cabinet that is made from the Home Depot private brand of "hardwood" plywood. I tried machining the edges of that stuff with a locking miter bit and it just splintered badly. so I went to miter joints since the table saw (BT3000!) made a nice smooth cut. Since the thing is large, 4' x 2', I didn't have confidence it would hold up, so I bought a Rockler Corner Key Doweling Jig to dowel across the 90 corners at 45.

          I also bought the eBay version of the Massca dowel jig, that drills two dowel holes at 45 for "T" or lap joints that are mechanically locking,
 3c90a09e84fd9a2c9f&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc& utm_campaign=**LP%20Shop%20-%20Dowel%20Jig&utm_term=4587780995677245&utm_conte nt=shopify_US_8118354673901_43931713503469%20%7C%2 0Massca%20Dowel%20Jig%20X%20Pack%20of%202%20-For%20Angled%20Dowel%20Joints%20%7C%20Pre-Order%20Fulfilled%20Feb%202023%20%7C%20Massca%20Pr oducts%20%7C%20%2460
          I've been tempted by the Domino system, but every YouTube video I see just illustrates the "loose" aspect of the loose joinery system. I have a HF biscuit joiner, but it makes sloppy joints, too. Maybe a better one would do well. Dowels provide tighter mechanical connections, in my view.
          Today, I'll be fitting the fronts to two drawers on the stand by using dowel centers to mark the box front side. I don't use the false front method of drawer making by adding a front to a finished box. Waste of space and material in my view.
          The dowel centers will be fitted to holes that were drilled with my self centering 90 dowel jig, and the fronts centered in the opening and marked with the dowel centers. worked on the upper drawers!
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