When it comes to woodwork, nails and screws are very important. But when it comes to fixing two pieces of wood on one plane, nothing does a better job than a dowel jig.
It is a simple mechanism where the steel block in the middle of the jig teams up with a drill bit. There are holes in the middle of the steel block which are often threaded so that the bushings can be installed for the drill bits.
This technique gives precise results and makes the overall structure strong. Using a dowel jig is also pretty easy and it creates straight holes in the panels without compromising the integrity of the wood. That’s why you see a pack of dowels arrive with all their products.
How to Pick a Good Dowel Jig
By now you know that there is more than one factor that makes a dowel jig a good one to buy. You could go for the cheapest option but that might not work out well for you in the end.
- Price: The cheapest models are, as expected, pretty basic. This means they do not come with bushings. So, you can forget about precision for multiple drills. If you want to use more than one dowel at a time, you are going to have to remove the jig which then means that alignment might be an issue if you’re not experienced.
- Bushings: Getting a dowel jig with bushings means spending a little extra but it will be worth it. Typically, you will find them bolted to holes and that allows you to drill holes without moving the jig. It is easy to find jigs with two holes for the drill bit and two for the bushings. If you want more than that, you will have to spend about $20 more. Those models have about four holes which means you will get more spacing options between the holes.
- Capacity: The more the capacity, the better the performance. But they are also some of the most expensive models. These dowel jigs are usually attached to a cylinder head to deal with materials that are six inches thick or more depending on the moolah you shell out.
- Self-centered: Some models come with the ability to self-center the core of the jig. The center of the jig has a steel block that helps guide the drill bit. A lot of models come with threaded holes that makes it easy to install bushings of different sizes to match the drills.
Typically, each hole needs a center line and it must be drawn on one side of the steel block. These holes are automatically fastened to the center of the wood which means you don’t have to turn the handle and move the screws to keep the jig symmetrical to the wood.
Our Top 5 Dowel Jigs for You
If you’re on the internet looking for the best dowel jigs in the market, here are our top five picks for you.
Our first choice is from Wolfcraft and it is a kit. This is a compact and durable dowel jig kit that is kind of perfect for edge to edge, edge to corner and T-joints. It is made of aluminum and is pretty good with materials that are half an inch to one and one-quarter inches thick.
You also get hardened steel bushings in the sizes ¼ of an inch, 5/16 of an inch and ⅜ of an inch which makes it easy to do precision drilling and you can make good time too. You will also get pre-aligned hole guides and clamps in this kit so that you can join two boards and drill them at the same time.
- Dowel jig kit with durable construction and compact design
- Good for creating edge to edge, edge to corner and T-joints
- Made of full aluminum body
- Comes with hardened steel bushings in ¼-inch, 5/16-inch and ⅜-inch sizes
- Good with materials that are ½ to 1 and ¼ inches thick
- Comes with a five-year warranty
- Item Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 3 x 4.3 x 12.3 inches
- Item Model Number: 3751405
- In the Box: Doweling Jig, two clamps, three depth stops and six dowel pins in assorted sizes
- The outer surface is pretty durable because of the aluminum make
- Easy to make holes with precision on the wood
- Good for DIY-ers
- Doe not block your view of the material you’re working on
- Does not have a good clamping system
This is another doweling jig kit that is great to create holes on a surface of materials, especially in the face or the end. You can preset the location of the dowels in increments which is great if you want to create more than one hole.
There is also a built-in slot which means making holes and aligning them on different pieces of wood is easier. It’s a compact kit which makes it easy to carry it around. And, it is made of durable aluminum while the indexing pins are made of stainless steel without compromising on the precision of the output because it is CNC machined. This kit is also easy to set up because it comes with helpful laser engravings.
- Can create down holes that are ¼, ⅜ and ½ an inch into the face or the end of a workpiece, typically wood.
- Location of the holes can be pre-set to increments of ⅛ of an inch which is great if you want to create multiple holes.
- There’s a built-in alignment slot so that you can match the different dowel holes.
- Made of CNC machines aluminum which makes it durable.
- Laser engravings make it easy to assemble.
- Comes with one ⅜-inch guide bushing carrier with five guide bushings, one ½-inch guide bushing carrier with three guide bushings and one ¼-inch guide bushing carrier with seven guide bushings.
- Item Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 11 x 13.9 x 4.15 inches
- Item Model Number: 08350
- Material: Steel
- Made of durable materials
- There is a drill guide for the wooden pieces
- Has alignment slots for multiple holes
- Can make three sets of holes on the face and the edges.
- Bad quality drill bits
- While alignment is an option, it is not the easiest feature to work with
The third dowel jig on our list is from Woodstock. If you want a compact and easy-to-use doweling jig, this is a pretty good choice, especially for woodworkers who have a variety of tasks at hand.
That is possible because when working with a variety of shapes (usual and irregular), this product has the ability to center itself automatically. It can handle materials that are up to two inches thick and comes with drill holes in five different sizes.
Along with the jig, you get six bushings made of hardened steel. Using those, you can drill two parallel holes of identical nature without having to move the jig. That keeps the holes precise.
It is also a lightweight doweling jig that can be carried around easily. And, of course, you can drill multiple holes without compromising on the structural integrity of the pieces of wood.
- Can handle workpieces up to two inches of thickness.
- Comes with five drill holes in sizes ¼ inch, 5/16 inch, ⅜ inch, 7/16 inch and ½ inch
- Comes with six hardened steel bushings which are two ¼ inch, two 5/16 inch and two ⅜ inch.
- Item Weight: 2.51 pounds
- Package Dimensions: 5.43 x 4.25 x 3.46 inches
- Self-centering on different surfaces
- Made of aluminum and quality steel bushings
- Can drill into materials that are two inches thick
- Precise with drilling
- Has six steel bushings
- You might find pieces of wood stuck on the dowel jigs surface
- Alignment of holes is not great
Our penultimate choice is from Milescraft which prides itself on helping you build or repair furniture. For starters, this kit comes with dowelled joints that are accurate and strong.
If you’re a woodworker with a project that needs to be started from scratch, this is a really good choice. Whether you’re a beginner or already have some experience, you will like this affordable kit to make holes with precision on the edges and the surface of a wooden piece.
This too comes with the option of self-centering but in addition to that, it also has an adjustable fence which makes alignment with one hand rather easy. That’s because you don’t have to mark or measure the corners. It is pretty good with thickness too.
- Good for accurately drilling holes both on the surface and the edge of a piece of wood.
- Comes with hardened steel bushings for the alignment of well-positioned dowels and longer doweling life.
- Has steel dowels which help mark the location on a second board or otherwise quite accurately.
- Has fluted dowel pins in three different sizes made of hardwood and chamfered ends (which is like a bevel with 45 degrees). This makes the joined surface strong.
- Comes with brad point drill bits in three sizes: ¼ inch, 5/16 inch and ⅜ inch which ensure accuracy.
- Has an adjustable guide fence that is compatible with ½ to 1 and ½ inch-thick lumber. This makes it easy to adjust to the depth of a board.
- The steel dowels make it a durable product
- Can be used for different sizes of wood
- Comes with bushing guides
- Does not come with a good clamping system
The last item on our list is the Big Horn dowel jig kit for simple woodworkers who are looking for a basic collection of tools. This kit is clearly for beginners because the doweling jig is made of acrylic plastic.
It is rather easy to set up because all you need to do is put two parts together. This is a basic model and comes with only one bushing made of quality steel. It is not versatile in the overall sense but it’s quite flexible in its own range. You will also find straight lines on the tool which make it easy to make holes on pieces of wood.
- Designed to center dowel holes on ½-inch thick materials.
- Comes with a guide that is ¼ of an inch and can drill holes that are ¾ of an inch in the center.
- Can work with acrylic surfaces that are 3/16 of an inch thick.
- Comes with hardened steel drill guides so that drilling holes on wood is easy. Also means you don’t need a tape measure for markings.
- Easy to use and does not need transfer marks from face to edge.
- Item Weight: 4.2 ounces
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 2 x 1 inches
- Surface of the bushing guide is pretty solid
- The acrylic face makes the work convenient
- There are three guide holes for versatility
- Comes only with one bushing size
- Not a very accurate
- Meant for hobbyists and help out DIY-ers
The Bottom Line
There are many benefits to getting a dowel jig, especially for woodwork. You won’t need nails or screws as mentioned earlier which reduces the required parts to put a piece of furniture together.
But you also get an undisrupted grain pattern with no sharp corners popping out along with a strong joint because the pins are on the inside. It is also fast and easy to set up a piece of furniture that went through dowling.
There is no need for any more hardware which means the maker of the furniture will sustain no injuries. That is an attractive prospect for business owners.
If you weigh your options well, you can make a wise choice quite easily when it comes to getting an individual dowel jig or an entire kit.