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Dowelmax Dowel Jig

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Chris Knight

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I think I may have seen something on this before, so if I am repeating stuff please excuse me.

I have always hated dowels as a joinery method mainly because I could never get a good fit. The slightest inaccuracy always showed up in multiples in the finished piece - even if I could get it together and that was often tough because the slightest misalignment made it hard.

Faced with some joinery where biscuits were not desirable and because I was using veneered MDF, proper wood joinery was not usable, I was tempted by good reviews of the Dowelmax jig - a Canadian device - into buying a Dowelmax.

I can honestly say it is every bit as good as all the glowing reviews made out. It is dead simple to use and in a dozen joints - some quite difficult to draw, let alone execute, I have found it to be excellent. I have not had a single failure or problem with it. It is built like a toolmaker's jig, very solid and extremely precise. The picture below shows it in its simplest mode, putting doel holes in the end of a workpiece. It can be reconfigured in about 30 seconds to put holes in the face of a workpiece for making eg Tee joints in two boards.
http://chrisknight.info/images/woodwork/Tools/Dowelmax.jpg

Any length of dowelled joint can be made - several feet long if that is required.

The key to its success is simply that it is so precisely made and absolutely symetrically so that when a reversal of the jig is called for, no error is introduced.

It does not get over the inherent problem of dowels themselves inasmuch there is precious little long grain actually involved in the glue joint but the manufacturer's website http://www.dowelmax.com/ does make a good case for the strength of dowel joints made with their system.

I ordered this thing from the mfr and it came in about three days - and for whatever reason there was no VAT or duty to pay! Because it uses 3/8 inch dowels, I bought some of these from them too - I did not want to be left making my own or shaving down 10mm dowels to fit. The ones they sent are "expansible" - a bit like biscuits, they are compressed, so wet glue expands them in the holes to make a good tight fit. That's one of the reasons I am using poly glue at the moment. They slip in with that like a knife through butter and after sawing through a couple of test joints to check for results, I would say they are perfect in use.
 

Noel

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Chris,

Excellent review but I must comment on your website. Very well designed, especially the workshop tour with the "interactive" pictures. Plenty of interest for users of handtools, corded and machinery. Look forward to the time when all the pictures on the tour are updated.
Also the furniture you've built is inspiring. Notice you've a Leigh and a Woodrat and the Leigh looks abit redundant on the shelf?

Rgds

Noel
 

Chris Knight

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Noely,
Thanks. Glad you like the site.

Yes, I guess you could say the Leigh looks a bit redundant, especially covered in dust! However, its my tool of choice for large carcase joinery like the base unit shown in the picture here http://chrisknight.info/woodwork/Dresser/index.htm

With the Leigh, I can turn it on its side by clamping the baseplate in my tail vice and that way handle long and heavy boards. With the rat, I would have to have it so high up the wall I would need a step ladder. I am also of the opinion that it could not handle the weight of the boards as used in the carcase above for example.

James,
Thanks for reminding me where I had seen a UK opinion on the Dowelmax! You do a great job keeping your site up to date - I should take lessons..
 

Charley

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It does look a good jig. To quote Mike from Dowelmax:
At present, the Dowelmax Kit is set up for 3/8 and 1/4 inch dowels. If sales in the
UK are promising then we will look at manufacturing a version of the Dowelmax for
metric dowels and metric wood sizes.
 

CYC

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Chris, you have made a very nice site. It's always nice to see what the next woodworker's shop looks like :D

I see you use a festool circular saw. Care to give a review in the Tools review section. I would love to hear your comments. Or may be you will have your tools section up soon ?
 

Chris Knight

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CYC,
Thanks. I'll be glad to write up a review of the Festool - give me a couple of days and post it here or on my site.

I will start on my Tools section next week if all goes well.
 

turnerbc

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Well I read all the reviews I could find on the internet and was impressed. I found one UK supplier who wanted £150 plus £6 postage and when asked about 250 X 3/8" dowels quoted and extra £45 - pretty steep. So I decides to buy direct from the manufacturers but added in the 1/4" guides 250 x 3/8" and 100 x 1/4" dowels as well. Total came to just over £164 on my friendly plastic pal. Delivery to the UK took less than 5 days but the good old post office , disguised as parcelforce worldwide , then wrote to me to tell me they had a parcel and would I care to pay VAT and a handling charge ( £13.60 ) to keep Customs and Eexcise happy.
So beware if you get something from North America dont expect to beat the Chancelor, unless you are very lucky. It cost me an extra £40 plus or minus some pence but still a lot cheaper in total than I could have bought it in the UK.

And it is a lovely new toy to play with.Well worth the expense. All the write ups and reviews are correct.
 

Noel

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BC,

Glad you got sorted on the jig. Out of interest and future reference who was the supplier?

Rgds

Noel
 

turnerbc

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Noely,

The UK supplier I refered to was http://www.woodworkersworkshop.co.uk/index.htm
Dowelmax is not mentioned on their site but I was refered to them via 'sawdustalley' as a possible supplier. They will supply it but if you want any extra items such as dowels ect the price is high, thats why I bought direct from Dowelmax.

Regards,
Barry.
 
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