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Dowels for use with a jig

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siggy_7

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I've got a Joint Genie dowelling jig which seems a well-made tool. Having used it with a few projects now, I'm convinced that the dowels I'm using (the 8mm fluted beech ones from the likes of Screwfix, Toolstation etc) are causing me a lot of problems come assembly time. I've measured the dowels with a vernier and they are generally about 8.2mm-8.3mm - for roughly drilled holes in chipboard I'm sure they wrok fine, but for joints with 4 or 5 dowels in hardwood or birch ply they take an extraordinary amount of force to close up. I can just about get a multi-dowel joint home with my strongest Bessey K-Body clamps and a significant amount of pounding, but there's no way the joints should be that tight. Can anyone else who uses dowels suggest how they get around this problem - is there a source of dowels I should be using which are more accurately sized, is it common practice to re-drill the holes with a slightly larger drill before assembly, or am I just doing something else wrong!
 

Distinterior

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Try pinging them in the Microwave for a couple of seconds placed on a bit of Kleenex paper.
Allow time for them to cool down before trying them in the holes. You may be surprised as to how much moisture is on the paper after "Cooking".....

I sometimes have to do this with my Festool Dominos prior to assembly if it's a big glue up. Storing little bags of Silica Gel in the storage container can help as well...
 

woodbloke66

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It's a common problem with dowling jigs. I use a Dowelmax which is superbly accurate, but I was nattering to the importer at Yandles a couple of years ago and he mentioned that the dowels are the most 'hit and miss' part of the whole jointing process. He supplied Silverline dowels with the jig and they're well under size. He suggested trying a much better quality dowel such as those supplied by Ax (his suggestion) which work very well and are a much tighter fit. I now tend to use the Silverline dowels for a trial run and use the Ax dowels for the glue up - Rob
 

Woody2Shoes

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Besides drying which sounds a good idea, maybe just whizz them through a dowel former eg Veritas do 4, 6,8 mm sizes?
 

woodbloke66

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Woody2Shoes":20ag31za said:
Besides drying which sounds a good idea, maybe just whizz them through a dowel former eg Veritas do 4, 6,8 mm sizes?
Difficult if you use fluted dowels :D - Rob
 

Woody2Shoes

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woodbloke66":1zlpjo0b said:
Woody2Shoes":1zlpjo0b said:
Besides drying which sounds a good idea, maybe just whizz them through a dowel former eg Veritas do 4, 6,8 mm sizes?
Difficult if you use fluted dowels :D - Rob
Not really- so you lose bit of flute?
 

Bod

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siggy_7":3uh1511j said:
I've got a Joint Genie dowelling jig which seems a well-made tool. Having used it with a few projects now, I'm convinced that the dowels I'm using (the 8mm fluted beech ones from the likes of Screwfix, Toolstation etc) are causing me a lot of problems come assembly time. I've measured the dowels with a vernier and they are generally about 8.2mm-8.3mm - for roughly drilled holes in chipboard I'm sure they wrok fine, but for joints with 4 or 5 dowels in hardwood or birch ply they take an extraordinary amount of force to close up. I can just about get a multi-dowel joint home with my strongest Bessey K-Body clamps and a significant amount of pounding, but there's no way the joints should be that tight. Can anyone else who uses dowels suggest how they get around this problem - is there a source of dowels I should be using which are more accurately sized, is it common practice to re-drill the holes with a slightly larger drill before assembly, or am I just doing something else wrong!
Have you tried making a deeper groove to let the glue/air out from the bottom of the hole?
I've found that trapped air/glue can make a joint very hard to close up fully.

Bod
 

worn thumbs

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I have experienced similar difficulties with dowels and solved it by tapping them through a dowel plate.If you don't have one,its easy to make one.Just find a piece of steel -preferably at least 4mm thick and drill a hole of the size you want the dowel to be and tap the dowel through it.A sliver will be removed from the tip of the flutes and assembly of the job becomes a bit easier.

You can also use the same process to make your own dowels of any diameter that takes your fancy.Just drill the hole and take the raw material roughly to size with a chisel and tap it through.You can even use the process to pass the blanks through a series of gradually reducing holes if you lack confidence in your chisel handling.
 

Lonsdale73

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I've mentioned my former woodwork teacher - Mr McGarry - before and he used a jig involving a scrap of wood with a dowel sized hole drilled through it. He'd insert a screw from the side such that the point was just inside the dowel-sized hole. Then he'd pass the dowels through the hole and the screw would gouge a groove on the dowel. I don't recall seeing fluted dowels back then. This groove allowed passage for the glue and eased assembly. Now retired from teaching I know Mr McGarry is still active as a woodworker.
 

Jacob

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Yes to dowel plate. Used to be a common feature in every shop. You can then make new, or adjust existing, to a precise size and match this up with the right drill bit. Bought in dowelling is bound to be variable.
 

siggy_7

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Thanks for all the advice everyone. I tried the microwave trick, it made a measurable difference to the diameter (about 0.15mm) but still a bit tight so I'm going to make a dowel plate out of some 1/4 inch steel I have spare.

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