If you’ve ever attempted to make something out of wood, you know that, although quite malleable, wood still requires a wide array of tools in order to make a fully functional piece of furniture, for example, out of a mere wooden slab.
From simple hand-held tools such as chisels and screwdrivers to the more complex contraptions such as calipers, clamps, and jigs, finely shaping a piece of splintery wood is a process that requires quite a mighty arsenal of technological apparatuses, as well as a bit of know-how in the field, of course.
Now, conjoining two wooden planks by means of finely-shaped dowels is one of the most popular ways of making a simple construction. That said, the process of making this happen can be tricky if you don’t have the right tools for the job. (Especially if you’re working with thin pieces of wood.)
This is why some clever folks came up with a contraption that can make your life easier when it comes to driving the aforementioned dowels into the designated holes.
The name is the dowel jig, and these tools are an absolute must-have if you’re woodworking efforts are mostly aimed at making furniture.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best dowel jigs currently available on the market. All of the entries you’re about to see below can do an excellent job in their own way, but otherwise have slight differences regarding their build, price, and brand value.
Editor Choice Top 5 Dowel jig Kit Comparison
Right then, without further ado, here are our 10 picks in the category of dowel jigs!
Top Ten Best Dowel Jig Reviews
1. Rockler – Dowl-It 1000 Self-Centering Doweling Jig
Representing a model that hasn’t really changed ever since it was first built in 1949, the Dowel-it model 1000 is a self-centering doweling jig that allows you to drill holes of six different sizes on a variety of wooden planks.
The holes themselves are of the following sizes: 3/16”, 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8”, 7/16”, and the biggest one 1/2”. These sizes correspond to the most commonly used screws out there, so this jig alone will probably satisfy the needs for the majority of your woodworking undertakings.
The centre block with the holes is made out of high-quality steel which has been further hardened for added longevity and durability.
When it comes to the tightening of this contraption, the deal is the same like with your standard vise – there’s a clamping screw that allows you to either tighten or loosen up the whole thing, depending on the width of the plank you’re working with.
• The slides are made out of durable aluminum
• The central block made out of hardened steel
• 6 holes with different diameters
• No loose parts that can get lost or displaced
• Self-centering action
• Original design from 1949
• Maximum 2-inch capacity
2. Task – Premium Doweling Jig
To ensure the durability and longevity of this tool, the folks at Task decided to make this contraption out of aircraft grade aluminum.
Similarly to the model above, this doweling jig is also a self-centering one, meaning there’s only one tightening screw you’ll be using to secure the piece of wood you’re working on.
To ensure a secure drilling every time, the manufacturers reinforced the drill guide centres, so that the drill bit doesn’t stray away from the hole.
When it comes to the holes, there are five different sizes you can work with. You get holes from 2 inches all the way to 2-7/16 of an inch, which would pretty much cover the majority of the drilling tasks.
Other than that, there’s also a steel plating which serves to prevent corrosion.
• The jig is self-centering
• There are five hole sizes
• Made from aircraft grade aluminum
• Steel plating for preventing corrosion and damage
• Reinforced drill holes
3. JessEm – Model 08350 Dowelling Jig Master Kit
Coming from a company named JessEm, this dowelling jig kit is a well-rounded set of tools you can use to complete all sorts of tasks related to creating wooden planks with small, dowel-friendly holes in them, so to speak.
The accessories included in this package include different guiding parts allowing you to drill holes of three different sizes: 1/4”, 3/8”, and 1/2”. There are also five drilling guides of 3/8”, as well as the specialized drill bits of the same diameter. Also, a stop collar and an indexing pin are also included in the package for good measure.
The guiding parts of this kit have been precision-manufactured on a CNC machine and made out of aluminum. The finished product has then been anodized for durability and also laser engraved, for a quick set up. As far as the maximum edge-to-centre distance, it amounts to 3 and a half inches with this particular machine.
- Comes with a built-in alignment shot
- Made out of precision CNC-machined aluminum
- Anodized aluminum parts for durability
- Comes with 5 drill guiding pieces
- A special 3/8” drill bit
- Also included are a stop collar and an indexing pin, both 3/8” in diameter
4. Eagle America – Professional Wide Capacity Self-Centering Dowel Jig
If you’re on a lookout for a simple-to-use clamping contraption to help you drill high-precision holes in wood, then this professional wide capacity self-centering dowel jig may be just the tool for you. Thanks to its design, this jig can easily take care of planks ranging from 1/4-inch to 6-inches in thickness.
Grand total, this tool offers 5 different drill holes. Their sizes are the following: 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8”, as well as two fixed holes measuring in 7/16” and 1/2”. If you’re making furniture, chances are that these five sizes will cover all of your drilling and conjoining needs.
Since the clamps are pretty chunky, you’ll be able to easily drill holes even in awkwardly-shaped wooden objects such as rotund pieces of wood, for example.
As for the centering itself, the deal is pretty straightforward – turn the screw to tighten it and turn it the opposite way to loosen it up. So, you can’t really go wrong even if you’re pretty clumsy!
• Easy to use
• Can handle materials from 1/2 to 6 inches wide
• Offers five different drilling sizes
• The guides are made out of hardened steel
• Anodized aluminum body for longevity and durability
5. Grizzly – G1874 Improved Dowel Jig
Compact, sturdy, and featuring a specialized system for stability and alignment that helps you drill holes in awkwardly shaped pieces of wood, the Grizzly G1874 Improved Dowel Jig is a tool that can help you perform drilling tasks quickly and effectively.
Although it doesn’t have the width handling capacity, so to speak, of some of the models we’ve seen above, it still performs excellently with the thinner pieces of wood, up to 2 inches in width. So, this jig would be a perfect choice for a person who tends to work with thin wooden planks typically used in furniture or some other, smaller woodworking project.
Once you clamp this little contraption onto a piece of wood, you can choose from any of the five different hole sizes that are inbuilt in it. These are: 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8”, 7/16”, and the largest one being 1/2″ in diameter.
Of course, these hole sizes correspond to the standardized drill sizes, so you can start drilling without having to do any precise measuring before you start.
• Self-centering jig
• Clamps well onto uneven and weirdly-shaped surfaces up to 2-inches in width
• Comes with 5 different drill hole sizes
• Features hardened steel bushings
6. Woodstock – D4116 Doweling Jig
Here we have a contraption that’s pretty similar to the one above. About the only major difference, really, would be the name which reminds one of a hippie music festival rather than a massive man-eating beast.
So, similarly to the model from above, this doweling jig has also got a pretty small working area of only 2 inches. As stated before, this means you’ll only be able to work with smaller, or rather ‘thinner’, pieces of wood. Of course, it will perform great with those, but count anything that’s over two inches out.
When drill holes are in question, there are five of them on this particular contraption, each of the following sizes: 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, and 1/2″. So, again, the same as with the model above. What’s also similar to the Grizzly’s G1874 model would be the number of steel bushings.
With this model, you’ll get six of these, each made out of hardened steel for additional longevity. The sizes of the bushings are as follows: 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″ – so, two of each size equals six grand total.
• Automatically centers itself on the object of drilling
• Features 5 different drill hole sizes
• 6 hardened steel bushings
• Only can tackle objects up to 2-inches wide
7. Wolfcraft – Dowel Pro Doweling Jig Kit
Featuring a rather curious design that stands out from the rest of the dowel jig models we’ve seen so far, the Wolfcraft doweling jig kit is a piece of woodworking machinery that’s definitely worth checking out.
Its construction is rather simple and its design allows you to drill dowel holes in a variety of positions that other models cannot cover. For example, using this particular tool, you can create edge-to-edge joints, edge-to-corner joints, as well as T-joints easily without having to loosen up the clamps and change their position every time you want to drill a different part of the plank.
The jig itself is made out of cast aluminum, so it’s both relatively lightweight and sturdy. As far as the thickness of the materials is in question, this jig can handle planks and other pieces of wood that are anywhere from 1/2” to 1-1/4” thick.
• Compact design
• Easy to use
• No measuring and marking required
• Comes with hardened steel bushings
• Allows you to make edge-to-edge, edge-to-corner, and T-joints
• Comes with a 5-year warranty
8. Dowl-It – 2500 Dowel Self-Centering Jig
Another model from the Dowl-It company comes in the shape of this 2500 Dowel Self-Centering Jig. Similarly to their other models, this jig also has the inbuilt self-centering mechanism, so you can latch it easily onto any piece of wood, so long its width doesn’t surpass the 2-inch mark.
As far as the drilling itself is concerned, this contraption comes with 4 tapped drilling holes. Also, there are 6 drill bushings provided, offering three different sizes to work with. These are 1/4”, 5/16”, and 3/8”, so you get two of each for a grand total of six.
Both the jig itself and the aforementioned bushings are additionally hardened and plated for rust protection, so you can rest assured these will last a long time. (If you use them correctly, of course.)
In order to ensure the clamping action is solid and that whatever piece of wood you decide to place in your jig won’t be moving about willy-nilly while you’re working on it, the folks at Dowl-It have ensured to install reinforced aluminum clamp sides which are large enough to clamp onto a piece of wood well, no matter its shape.
• Features 6 removable bushings
• Both the bushings and the jig centre made out of hardened steel
• The clamping sides are made out of reinforced aluminum
• 2-inch width clearance
9. Milescraft – JointPro – Professional Doweling Jig
Featuring a somewhat unorthodox build, at least in comparison to some of the other products you may have seen, the Milescraft JointPro is a doweling jig that allows you to drill up to 6 matching holes at the same time! (Meaning, without having to unclamp the whole thing and start again.)
When tightening and securing the piece of wood you’re working on are concerned, this jig works based on a simple system of self-centering, with a single mechanism you turn to the right to tighten it and turn left to loosen it up.
The great thing about this particular jig is that it comes with detailed instruction about making different holes, which is great if you’re a beginner in the whole doweling business, so to speak.
Whether you’re making a corner, edge, or surface joints, these instruction sheets will help you make them precisely and efficiently every time.
• Can clamp down two boards simultaneously
• The design allows you to drill six matching holes per setup
• Includes a detailed instructional manual (great for rookies)
• Hardened steel bushings for longevity and reliability
10. Walfront – Self-Centering Doweling Jig
Perhaps the weirdest-looking doweling contraption comes from the company called Walfront. What they’ve come up with looks more like a bear trap than a woodworking tool, but it nevertheless offers some pretty impressive features to both rookies and the experienced carpenters.
The whole thing is made out of a high-quality aluminum alloy called 6061 which offers excellent durability properties and is tough enough to take on any sort to wood you’d like to work with.
For further protection, every surface of this jig was put through an anodic oxidization treatment, as well.
When it comes to the width of the pieces you can work with, this jig can easily clamp down on the surface that is anywhere from 17 to 50 mm wide. Also, ensuring that every drilling task you take up can be carried out precisely and effectively, the folks at Walfront built a measuring scale into it.
• Can work with wooden boards from 17 to 50 mm
• 6, 8, and 10 mm bushings
• Inbuilt measuring scale for precise drilling
• Made out of aluminum alloy 6061
• The metallic surfaces treated with anodic oxidation
Representing possibly the most important aspect of doweling jigs, its accuracy will determine how much success you’ll have with your doweling contraption. Indeed, if the doweling jig bushings are smaller than necessary, you may not be able to drill out the sort of holes you need.
On the other hand, if your bushings are too large or are not set at the right angle, you run the risk of ruining the whole piece of wood and starting all over with a new one! This is why purchasing a doweling jig that is fairly accurate is of utmost importance overall.
This is a feature that also goes back to accuracy in a way.
For example, if you want to create a perfectly aligned series of holes in the wood you’re working on, the most important thing to do would be to properly center it. If you can’t pull that off, you won’t be able to make the connection you need.
So, when buying a doweling jig, always look for models that have the ‘self-centering’ label in the description.
And by flexibility we mean the number of bushings and the size of the holes.
You see, if you have a doweling jig with three hole sizes, you can easily work with them to create a series of different-size holes you can use to conjoin a variety of piece of wood! (With only one size doweling jig, your options are somewhat limited, of course.)
Material Used for Bushings
Bushings for a dowel jig kit are usually made out of regular steel, just like the rest of the jig.
For tougher doweling tasks, however, you will probably require a stronger set of bushings. Therefore, those made out of reinforced steel can be perfect for making holes in different pieces of wood that are traditionally tougher than the regular plywood, for example.
Being a relatively small and simple tool, a dowel jig kit won’t really be the most expensive one in your tool shed. (Even if you buy like the most expensive one available.)
Depending on the material used for the bushings, the self-centering stuff, as well as the number of holes you can use, the prices range from 20 dollars to 70-ish or perhaps slightly more than that.
The versatility of the Doweling
When buying a doweling jig, you want to make the most out of it, so to speak.
Since doweling jigs come with several holes through which you can make holes in the wood, what you want to do is shoot for a model that comes with holes in several different sizes. This way, you can work with smaller or larger pieces of wood, depending on what you need.
Also, a model with the ‘capacity’ to self-center can be an excellent choice for you, because of the increased accuracy. (This especially counts if you’re a rookie.)
The clamp is an essential piece of every doweling jig, as it allows you to work on it steadily and firmly, without worrying about slipping away from your reach or something even worse.
So, in order to figure out this particular function of the doweling jig, what you need to do is see how strong the clamp in question is. Remember, you need it do be as strong as possible in order to work on your piece of wood securely!
How Easy It Is to Use
If you take a look at your average doweling jig, at first the sight of the many holes, the weird design, and the odd handle sticking out of it may come across as tad intimidating. At the same time, you may even think that these tools are tough to figure out and thus use appropriately.
Well, you’d be glad to hear that nothing could be farther from the truth. These tools are a breeze to use, so we’d advise you to get the most advanced version of the a dowel jig kit you can – because you’re sure to be able to understand how it works.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Doweling Jig Kit?
Well, it all depends on what sort of tool you are looking for.
If you are looking for a simple doweling tool that you can use to make a couple of holes in the wood than a simple jig will be sufficient for you. (This means you’ll spend less money and still get
what you want – what’s not to love?)
On the other hand, a tougher doweling jig with more holes and more different sizes you can use can do wonders for you if you’re a pro. It’s all up to you, really!
Is a Doweling Jig Essential?
If you’re working with wood and like making furniture with lots of joints and without using too many nails and screws, then yes – a doweling jig can be considered essential for your line of work.
If the answer is ‘no’, however, and you don’t really work with wood all that much, then you won’t really need a doweling jig that badly, in all fairness.
How Do You Use a Doweling Jig?
Using a doweling jig properly takes some practice and experience, but the main principle is pretty straightforward, actually.
You align the jig with the wood at an angle that you wish to make holes. Then you clamp down the jig to the piece of wood you’re working on, so that it doesn’t move while you’re drilling.
(The size of the hole is a parameter you should have decided on before you started the whole process, by the way.)
After everything sits tight and it’s ready to go, what you do is take a drill, make the holes, et voila! – you’ve successfully used a doweling jig!
All things considered, obtaining a well-made dowel jig can mean a world of difference when it comes to drilling holes in thin wooden planks and conjoining two pieces of wood by means of dowels. Whether you’re well-versed in the ancient art of woodworking or are a complete rookie, a doweling jig can save you a lot of effort in the long run. Hope you found this article helpful, and good luck with your purchase!