Boring dowel joinery can be a fulfilling experience. Use your plunge router with this precision jig. The jig makes it hard to go wrong.
Dowel joinery was one of the things I tried early in my woodworking experience. What I had were carpentry tools; but I was making a vanity, and I wanted to join the rails and stiles of a face frame. Dowel joints seemed like the way to go for me—just buy a doweling jig and use the portable drill and twist bits I already had.
What a disappointment! Maybe it was me, and maybe it was the jig. but I never did master dowel joinery with a drill and a doweling jig. It just never worked for me the way I thought it should. The holes in the rails just would never match up with the holes in the stilcs.They'd be a bit too far jpart or too close together. And jig or not. at least one of the holes would be cocked.
Twenty years later, I'm using a plunge router with my shop-made doweling jig with far better results. Alter a bit of setup, 1 can knock out whole sets of dowel-jointed face frames, with all the holes aligned, square, and perfectly and consistently positioned.
The trick is a template that has several holes bored in it.The workpieces are clamped beneath the template. You use a plunge router fitted with a guide bushing to bore the dowel holes. An adjustable workpiecc stop ensures that each workpiecc will be clamped in the same position, and template adjusters help you fine-tune the template so the holes are dead-center on the workpiecc.
If you are making a traditional frame with rails and stiles.
the stiles arc clampcd horizontally beneath the template; the rails, vertically. A toggle clamp makes workpiece changeover fast and easy, yet it holds the work very securely. The clamp is screwed to a pad that makes it easy to shift the clamp's position to accommodate different sizes of workpieces.
An innovative feature of this jig, contributed by Fred Matlack of Rodale's Design Shop, is that adjustable work-piece stop I mentioned. You move it from one end of the jig to the other, depending upon which end of a frame member is being worked. Once adjusted for a job. you make use of the same setting at both positions.
The jig is not infinitely variable.The template has four evenly spaced holes. If you are working 1'/a-inch-widc stock, for example, you would use two of the holes, and your dowel holes would be % inch apart (center-to-center). If the working stock is wider and can accommodate three holes on the ^-inch ccntcr-to-ccntcr spacing, then you'd use three of the template holes, and so on.
A hitch with any router doweling jig is that you can't orient the workpieccs so the same face of each is against the jig. If you place the reference face of the stiles in (against the jig), then the reference facc of the rails must Ik* out.That's just the way it is. So the jig must be adjustable in such a way that the dowel holes can be placcd precisely. And this jig is that adjustable.
DOWELING JIG EXPLODED VIEW
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