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Thread: Where can I buy a 5/8" doweling jig?

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    NE Connecticut
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    517
    I agree with Edwin's idea of a homemade jig, especially if your spacing doesn't vary.

    That said, this task just screams "Domino". Drilling lots of holes is rough on the wrists, as Mreza said, and I think this is a HUGE consideration. The Domino solves this problem, is adjustable, repeatable, and faster than dowels.

    Another consideration is that the Domino has excellent dust collection. Doweling jigs do not. I have a DowelMax and use pocket screws. Both leave lots of annoying wood crumbs all over that constantly have to be cleaned up.

    Maybe someone in your area has a Domino you could try out? I know my local Woodcraft always has one out for people to try.


  2. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Thanks for the additional replies all.

    Charlie, I don't see how adding a spacer to one side of the Dowl-it jig will make it register a constant distance from one side of the work piece; seems like it would just shift the centerline. But maybe it does and I'm just not visualizing it correctly. Can you confirm it does?

    Like I said earlier, I'm not looking for a $1500+ solution. I don't build enough doors to justify the cost of a Domino and although it's faster and easier to use than my slot mortiser the end result is no different or better. For smaller M&T work my horizontal router mortiser does nearly everything a Domino does and some things it can't so I can't justify it for regular joinery work either.


    John

  3. #18
    +1 for the domino. Just get it and be done with it.

    My progression was Dowelmax, biscuit jointer, a used General 75-075 mortiser, then finally Domino df500. When considering the first 3, I considered the Domino each time and kept putting it off thinking it was too expensive for what it was. Though each tool has it's place in my shop, I wish I had just broke down and bought the Domino first - it really is just so much faster and versatile than any of the other solutions. I still use the mortiser for larger joinery/though tenon work, but I rarely pull out the doweling jig or biscuit joiner anymore.

    Doweling jigs like the dowelmax do work well, but it actually takes surprisingly long to clamp the jig, pick up your drill, put your drill back down and wait for it to spin down (I found my 18v dewalt cordless drill lacking in stamina/speed for these operations, so use my corded drill), then unclamp and move to the next joint. Compared to the domino: reference, plunge. May not seem like a big deal, but when you have to do it a few dozen times on a project it gets old. Also, i always found it a bit tricky to reference and come up with clever clamping solutions for the dowelmax if I needed a dowel in the middle of a panel, or in an angled joint. Both situations are handled with ease with the domino.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Kansas City
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    653
    I would see if I could find a machine shop to fabricate something. Of course, that assumes I am dead set on 5/8 dowels.

    But if it were me, I would go 1/2 dowels and get a dowelmax or something similar.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Dickinson, Texas
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    6,112
    I would try to make one out of white oak. I think it would work.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    1,411
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Thanks for the additional replies all.

    Charlie, I don't see how adding a spacer to one side of the Dowl-it jig will make it register a constant distance from one side of the work piece; seems like it would just shift the centerline. But maybe it does and I'm just not visualizing it correctly. Can you confirm it does?

    Like I said earlier, I'm not looking for a $1500+ solution. I don't build enough doors to justify the cost of a Domino and although it's faster and easier to use than my slot mortiser the end result is no different or better. For smaller M&T work my horizontal router mortiser does nearly everything a Domino does and some things it can't so I can't justify it for regular joinery work either.


    John
    Isn't that what you are trying to do? The gauge itself will by it's design always locate the dowel hole centered between it's two sides. Add a spacer to the jig and the jig will need to be opened farther, but will center itself on this new wider setting and the dowel location will be offset from center of your work piece by 1/2 the width of the added spacer.

    Yes, I have done this, but not to drill for 5/8 dowels. I was offsetting a table apron to leg joint.

    Charley

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Huntington, Vermont
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    865
    Indexing for dowel joints, especially with multiple dowels, is demanding. Any lateral offset compromises the joint and makes it hard to assemble. I would suggest a jig with multiple bushings wide enough for your widest rail.

    That said, I don't really see the point of going from inserted tenons to hand drilled dowels. The time saved will not be that significant, the joints will have less long grain surface area and your shoulders will not thank you.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    Indexing for dowel joints, especially with multiple dowels, is demanding. Any lateral offset compromises the joint and makes it hard to assemble. I would suggest a jig with multiple bushings wide enough for your widest rail.

    That said, I don't really see the point of going from inserted tenons to hand drilled dowels. The time saved will not be that significant, the joints will have less long grain surface area and your shoulders will not thank you.
    I spent an hour or so designing a dowel jig for a 1-3/4" door just as you suggested Kevin, one that would fit both typical 5" top and 8" bottom rails and that could be shimmed out for 1-3/8" doors. And then I looked at it and saw how little glue surface area those dowels would present. It pales in comparison to those big loose tenons I use now. But I've seen lots of exterior doors like one I just cut down built with nothing more than 2 dowels in the top rail and 3 in the bottom and still be solid after several generations so clearly it doesn't take a lot. The guy who mentored me on door construction uses dowels, and even said he rarely glues them in, that it's the stub tenon and cope/stick joint that provides the surface area that holds the door together. I never bought into that argument, obviously, if I'm using big loose tenons, but he's built a lot of doors.

    At this point I'm going to stick with big loose tenons on external doors but am likely going to build a dowel jig for interior ones.

    Thanks for all the input, everyone.

    John

  9. #24
    I know this is off topic a bit, but this discussion, especially John's last post, has me thinking about dowels and glue surface area. Jessem's recommendation with their jig is to use more dowels versus fewer larger dowels. This makes sense to me. After all, you can do a quick calculation to see that two 3/8" dowels in an offset pattern would be considerably more glue surface area than one 5/8" dowel. Of course this is handy for Jessem in touting the detent indexing feature of their 08350 doweling jig but I can say it works. I have done several joints with multiple 1/4" dowels set up in an array of 3,2,3 for a total of 8 dowel pins in the joint.

    It also raises the question of the larger glue surface area of a tenon, and an even more subtle question of tenon long grain surface area versus the round dowel pin and the grain pattern around it. Then there's also the issue of the theoretical versus the practical reality. Matthias Wandel did an experimental strength test comparing the failure of a mortise and tenon to dowel joint and the dowel joint performed very comparably to the M&T.

    I've concluded that as woodworkers we are oriented toward looking for the strongest possible joint, glue, whatever. But there's an inconvenient fact that once a joint is strong enough for the practical real world, any more strength is serving no real purpose. Looking at the story of John's door mentor's methods, and realizing I cannot recall ever seeing an entry door joint failure, I wonder if we sometimes over-think the strength aspect of questions like this. Maybe the answer is it's all good, and just use the tools your have or the most expedient method you enjoy.

    Sorry for rambling,
    Edwin

  10. #25
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    Dec 2010
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    WNY
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    Not at all, Edwin, discussing is always good. Your example of two 3/8" dowels vs. one 5/8" dowels only shows a 20% increase in surface area. If that would be the difference between success or failure of joint then neither is robust enough. Nevertheless, I understand your point but there is even more to it than that though you have to start asking where it stops and what's good enough, as you said. You could argue that about half of the surface area on a dowel is glued to end grain in the bored hole it fits into, compared to nearly all of the surface of a wide tenon being face grain to face grain. On the other hand, wide tenons suffer from seasonal cross grain movement and using a rigid glue like epoxy would seem to be the wrong choice yet I haven't had one open yet. I limit tenon width to about 3" so maybe that's OK.

    I've wondered why wide bottom rails on exterior doors don't crack more often or why the joints don't show signs of that cross grain movement. I have seen quite a few of both those problems on doors directly exposed to the weather and facing South or West, but I would expect it to happen even in doors with no direct sun exposure just from seasonal movement. But apparently it doesn't, and that could be how my mentor justifies using dowels and relying mostly on the glued coped joint. I'd ask him but I've lost contact with him so I'm left to wonder.

    Joe Calhoun, if you happen to read this I'd appreciate your insights. Thanks.

    John

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