Best Dowel Jig

Dowel joinery is a classic and reliable means to join two pieces of wood together. It has many uses but is especially common in making furniture or similar craft projects.

If you are trying to make anything using dowel joinery, you pretty much need a dowel jig. It’s nearly impossible to accurately align both sets of holes without using a good dowel jig to help you drill them. Accurate alignment is one of the keys to dowel joinery.

If you are ready to try your hand at making dowel joints, or ready to up your game, check out these fine products to see which one will work best for your current needs.

Best Dowel Jig Reviews

1. Dowl-it 1000 Self-centering Doweling Jig – Best General All Around Classic Model (Editor’s Choice)

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This model has been in use for decades, It goes all the way back to 1949, so you know its design is an enduring classic.

When you pick it up, you can feel by the weight of it that it has very solid construction. It is 2.35 pounds in total.

For the best results, you may need good lighting to clearly see the guide marks. For some people, this is an issue.

This jig works with wood widths up to 2 inches. It also supports multiple boring sizes:

  • 3/16 inch
  • 1/4 inch
  • 5/16 inch
  • 3/8 inch
  • 7/16 inch
  • 1/2 inch

It is made of durable solid steel, so you will be using this model for years to come. Like many jigs, it’s a self-centering model to help make sure that the dowel holes end up at the center of the board, which is where they belong for most joinery work.

This jig does not include additional accessories, such as drill bits or locking collars. You may want to buy some accessories if you don’t already have them.

Happily, it comes with very good instructions, which include tips to help you avoid the worst pitfalls most people make when trying their hand at dowel joinery. It’s a terrific asset for the beginner or someone who only occasionally does joinery work, which can be finicky.

Recommended as a good basic dowel jig. Recommended if you need a few more options for dowel size and other particulars.

Pros:

  • It’s a solid 2.35 pounds of quality construction.
  • Supports six boring sizes: 3/16″; 1/4″; 5/16″, 3/8″; 7/16″; and 1/2″.
  • Works with wood up to 2 inches in width.

Cons:

  • Some people find it hard to read the markings with this jig.
  • At 2.35 pounds, it’s a little on the heavy side.
  • It does not include accessories.

2. Milescraft 1319 JointMate – Handheld Dowel Jig – Best Simple-To-Use Jig (People’s Choice)

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The beauty of this jig is its simplicity. The fact that is so simple makes this the go-to jig for many people, sometimes even people with years of experience and pricier jig options sitting in their workshop.

It is brilliantly designed to be used one-handed. This makes for hassle-free drilling of dowel holes.

This jig’s small and lightweight design makes it a joy to handle. Thanks in part to being made of plastic, it comes in at a mere 8 ounces. Its dimensions are 10″ x 4″ x 2″.

It is self-centering to help ensure that your dowel holes end up in the middle of the piece where they most often belong. It works for edge-to-face and edge-to-edge dowel joinery, plus works for three different sizes of dowels.

The jig is sized for lumber that is between 1/2″ and 1-1/2″ thick and comes with an adjustable fence. It includes metal bushings in the following sizes: 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″.

This jig uses imperial measurements, not metric. So when it says it is 1/4″, it actually is 1/4″ and not 6mm.

It’s suitable for making dowel holes for corner, edge or surface joints. The simple design means there is minimal setup involved. It includes clear, concise instructions.

This jig does not include extra accessories, such as drill bit stop collars. Although such accessories aren’t necessary to successfully create dowel holes, some people find them helpful.

If you already have accessories or prefer alternate work methods, you may be happy to save a few bucks by buying a simple jig without a lot of accessories. If you want such accessories, it is also possible to purchase them separately.

This jig has a fairly short fence. It works fine, but some people expect a longer fence.

Recommended if you are looking for something drop-dead simple to use. Great if budget is a concern. Recommended if you want something lightweight. Not recommended if you are looking for a tool that serves a wide variety of variables.

Pros:

  • It’s drop-dead simple to use.
  • It weighs just 8 ounces.
  • Uses the imperial measurements familiar to most Americans.
  • Works with dowels sized: 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″.
  • Works with wood widths from 1/2″ to 1-1/2″.

Cons:

  • It lacks accessories.
  • Simple tools can require a bit more skill to use effectively.
  • It’s plastic, not metal.

3. AUTOTOOLHOME Handheld Dowel Jig Kit with Wood Dowel Pins Drill Bit Woodworking Joiner – Best Starter Kit For Gifting To Your Favorite Woodworker

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If you know a weekend warrior woodworker who isn’t yet doing dowel joinery, this set could be the perfect way to encourage them to try it. The thing that may be stopping them is the lack of a dowel jig, essential to doing dowel joinery successfully.

Even if they are willing to get the jig, there are a variety of accessories that are also typically needed to do a good job. For the beginner, it isn’t always obvious what all they need. This set includes the jig plus three different sizes of a drill bit and a matching set of dowels to get you started.

This is not only convenient, but it also serves an educational purpose. It helps people better understand what they need to use the jig effectively.

Like many jigs, this one is self-centering and has an adjustable fence. These features both play important roles in making accurately doweled wood joints.

It also comes with metal bushings to help make sure the drill depth is accurate. You can use this jig for wood thicknesses between 1/2 inch and 1-1/4 inch, so slightly less thick than average. It is simple to use and involves a minimum of setup.

It is made of a combination of plastic and metal to help keep it lightweight. However, it may not be as durable as models that are all-metal construction. Excellent for light use, but may not stand up to heavy use.

Some listings give dowel pin sizes in both metric and imperial measurements. So it may not actually use imperial measurements.

Recommended as a cute gift set. Great if you feel you need all the parts to better understand what you are doing. Recommended for beginners new to dowel joinery.

Pros:

  • At just 12 ounces, it’s fairly lightweight.
  • Potentially makes a really cute gift for your favorite weekend warrior woodworker.
  • Includes a variety of accessories.

Cons:

  • It does not come with instructions.
  • May not be very durable.

4. Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig – Best Jig For Jobs Up To 2″ Thick

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This jig will handle stock up to 2″ thick and it weighs about 2.5 pounds. If you need something a little heavier duty or you need to handle slightly larger stock, this may be the jig for you.

Many jigs only handle stock up to 1.5″ or even just 1.25″ thick. This works just fine for many jobs but places a hard upper limit on the size of the stock for the project.

It covers drill-hole sizes of 1/4″, 5/16″, 7/16″ and 1/2″. It comes with six hardened bushings in three different sizes, so pairs of bushings at 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″.

Like most jigs, it is self-centering. But do pay attention to the orientation. It isn’t perfectly centered and will be off if you don’t orient it the same way each time.

It is hard to loosen by hand. This is a common issue with dowel jigs. Pliers can come in handy to help loosen it.

The jig is easy to use and comes with a 1-year warranty.

Recommended if you need a heavier jig. Great if you need a jig that can handle stock up to 2 inches. Most jigs cannot handle stock over 1-1/2″.

Pros:

  • Will handle slightly larger stock, up to 2 inches.
  • It has high contrast markings with good visibility.
  • Solidly built with steel guide pins.

Cons:

  • Not perfectly centered, so pay attention to the orientation.
  • It can be hard to loosen by hand, which is actually a very common issue with dowel jigs.

5. Premium Doweling Jig – Best Wide Stock Jig

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Is 2″ still not enough for you? Do you need to go a bit bigger than that? This jig handles stock up to 2-3/8″ thick.

Like most jigs, it is self-centering. This one even promises to work on round objects. It includes six bushings, two apiece at 1/4″, 5/16″, and 3/8″.

It is made of steel-plated, aircraft-grade aluminum to help resist corrosion. Its design helps create accurate, flawless dowel joints.

It weighs in at a total of 2.45 pounds. It is sturdy, accurate and easy to use.

Although it supports making up to four holes at a time, it only has two drill sleeves for each size. So you have to unscrew and reposition the sleeves to complete all four holes. Additional bushings do not appear to be readily available for purchase.

Recommended if you need to work stock up to 2-3/8″ thick. Most jigs only handle stock up to 1-1/2″ and some only handle stock up to 1-1/4″ thick.

Great if you want to drill up to four holes at a time. Recommended if you need to work with round stock.

Pros:

  • Supports drilling up to four holes at a time.
  • Supports drilling round stock.
  • Handles stock up to 2-3/8″ thick.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t really come with enough drill sleeves to work conveniently on multiple holes.
  • Part of it is iron. You should plan to coat it with oil to protect against rust.

6. Jessem Model 08350 Dowelling Jig Master Kit – Best Kit For Making Multiple Drill Holes

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A lot of the same basics apply to this kit, such as drill hole sizes (1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″). The thing that helps set this kit apart is the extra bushings and other accessories to help make it easy to drill multiple holes.

For example, there are five 3/8″ bushings, plus a drill bit, stop collar and indexing pin for that size. It also allows you to pre-set dowel locations at 1/8″ increments.

It’s made of durable steel and comes in at 2.6 pounds of sturdy construction.

Recommended for its accuracy and ease of use. Also, recommended for making multiple holes at once.

Pros:

  • Extremely accurate.
  • It comes with accessories to make it easy to create multiple holes.
  • Professional level jig for the serious woodworker.

Cons:

  • It does not include any dowels.
  • This is one of the pricier models, but well worth it if you can afford it.

7. Milescraft 1311 JointPro – Professional Doweling Jig – Best Efficient Jig For Multiple Drill Holes

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The design of this jig allows you to clamp two boards together and drill them at the same time. This can help ensure that the holes are precisely aligned. It also allows you to drill up to six holes at one time for a stronger joint.

The product comes with excellent detailed instructions and bushing blocks for 1/4″, 5/16″ or 3/8″ drill holes. Like most jigs, it works for stock between 1/2″ and 1-1/2″.

Because this jig is fundamentally designed different from most dowel jigs, it has a steeper learning curve. This can negatively impact accuracy until you learn how to use it.

Unlike with some jigs, you actually can drill three holes at a time. Some multi-hole jigs really don’t have the accessories to conveniently support quick, efficient drilling. It is possible to find YouTube videos to help you learn how to use it correctly.

Some people find this jig to be a bit fussy to work with. On the upside, you can find videos online to help you better understand how this jig works. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a few thousand at least.

Recommended if you really want to drill multiple holes conveniently. Not recommended for larger sizes of wood stock.

Pros:

  • It has unusually good instructions.
  • It lets you drill up to six holes at a time.
  • Boards can be clamped and drilled simultaneously for very precise joinery work.

Cons:

  • At 3.86 pounds, it’s heavier than most dowel jigs.
  • It’s more complicated to learn to use than most jigs.
  • Tech support may be slow to respond.

8. Eagle America 445-7600 Professional Wide Capacity Self-Centering Dowel Jig – Best Extremely Thick or Thin Stock Jig

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Most jigs handle stock from 1/2″ to 1-1/2″ thick or maybe a little larger than that. This jig handles material from 1/4″ to 6″ thick, so it will work for both very thick or unusually thin dowel joinery jobs.

This does not have to square or rectangular stock. This jig will also work fine with large round stock.

This jig is advertised as an Eagle America product, but some customers say that the item they received was manufactured by a related company called MLCS. It may not live up to the high-quality standards people generally expect Eagle America products. So you should try it out as soon as you receive it so you can exchange it if it is off-center.

It will drill holes up to 7/16″, but you have to reposition it to drill multiple holes. This is an inconvenience, but better than having no jig for extra-thick stock.

Recommended if you need a jig to handle either extra thick or extra thin stock.

Pros:

  • It handles both extra thick stock, up to 6″, and extra thin, down to 1/4″
  • It comes with some accessories, such as bushings.

Cons:

  • It may be an MLCS product, not an Eagle America product.
  • You should check it for accuracy as soon as you receive it.
  • It has to be repositioned to drill multiple holes.

9. Wolfcraft 3751405 Dowel Pro Doweling Jig Kit – Best No Mark, No Measure Jig

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If your pet peeve is having to mark and measure, this may be the jig for you. Its design allows you to skip that step.

This jig works with the stock between 1/2″ and 1-1/4″ thick. This is the narrowest range you will see on dowel jigs. If you need more range than that, you will need to buy another jig.

It comes with a 5-year warranty, plus bushings in the following sizes: 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″. It can be used to create all three types of dowel joinery:

  • Edge-to-edge
  • Edge-to-corner
  • T-joints

The Wolcraft brand has been a trusted brand name for decades. Their years of experience inform the design of this simple, easy-to-use jig that requires no measuring or marking.

Naturally, this means the design is different from most jigs, so it may not be obvious at first how to use it effectively. It comes with a “How To” guide. You really should read through that before you get started so you can make sense of how this jig works.

Unlike standard jigs, this is not a self-centering jig. Instead, the holes are always drilled a fixed distance from the edge of the wood.

This distance differs depending upon the size of the hole being drilled. The larger the stock, the more off-center the holes will be.

Although the unique design is not intuitive, the directions are very straight forward.

In addition to the two-part jig, you will also get two dowel clamps, three depth stops and 60 dowel pins. The dowel pins are high-quality fluted beech wood.

Some people find the depth stops frustrating to work with. If this is the case for you, it’s easy enough to just buy better depth stops to make for a more satisfying dowel joinery experience.

Recommended if you don’t like marking and measuring. The innovative design allows you to simply clamp two boards together and drill matching holes.

Pros:

  • It allows you to drill dowel holes without marking or measuring.
  • The jig comes with a handy “How To” guide.

Cons:

  • It only works with a narrow range of stock (1/2″ to 1-1/4″).
  • Because it works differently from other jigs, there is a learning curve.
  • Some people find the included depth stops hard to work with. They are easily replaced.

Buyer’s Guide

Most dowel jigs are self-centering, but not all are. This is true because centering the dowels makes for a stronger joint.

Dowel jigs typically handle edge-to-edge and edge-to-face joints in a simple, straight forward manner. T-joints can be made using most jigs, but it takes a little more skill. If you are new to dowel joinery, it isn’t wise to start off first thing with T-joints. It is better to get a little experience first doing easier edge-to-edge or edge-to-face joints.

Those are fairly standard details for dowel jigs, however here are a lot of other details that vary a lot more from one jig to another, Here are some things to think about when picking a dowel jig:

How much joinery do I expect to do?

If you expect to do this once or only occasionally, then you may not want to invest much money and you may not care so much durability and accessories. If you expect this to be an ongoing need, then the quality of the product will matter more.

Generally speaking, heavier jigs will be made of more durable materials. Checking the weight of the jig can serve as a quick-and-dirty proxy for inferring how durable the item is.

What size wood stock does it need to fit?

Most jigs will work with 1/2″ to 1-1/2″ stock. If you want to go smaller or larger than that, you will need to pay attention to which jigs can handle your needs.

If you want to go a lot larger, this detail may be the most important factor in determining which jig you purchase. The more extreme stock sizes are only served by a very limited number of products.

What size dowels jigs will I be using?

Although this is related to stock size, it is a separate issue from the question above. So you should check both that the jig handles the thickness of wood with which you intend to work and the drill hole size you intend to make.

While you are at it, check if they have accessories in the same size, such as bushings and depth stops. Getting all of those pieces from the same company can help ensure that everything works well together. This can help you have a smooth experience drilling the holes for your dowel joinery work so that the joints fit.

How do you prefer to work?

Everyone has their personal quirks. For some people, visibility is their pain point. For others, marking things is their pain point.

As you read through descriptions and reviews, think about how you like to work, what your strengths and weaknesses are and what kind of work you will be doing. You want to find a description that sounds like a good fit for you as an individual. That matters more than what other people think or what’s popular.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are just being overly fussy. This can be a real safety issue when working with power tools.

Although only 15 to 20 percent of the population self identifies as handicapped, studies show that up to 60 percent of the population has less serious personal limitations which impinge upon their ability to perform day-to-day tasks. The best way to make sure that you don’t wind up impaired enough to call yourself handicapped is to respect your own personal discomfort with certain processed and accommodate your personal preferences. This is especially true for potentially dangerous activities, such as woodworking.

Accessories for Dowel Jigs

If you already have a lot of accessories or prefer to work without them, you may just want a dowel jig by itself. That can be an economical choice. Or you may want a dowel jig with some accessories, such as bushings.

If you know you hate keeping track of all the extra little parts, then just get something simple and hassle-free. If you know you love having accessories to help you do your work, then go with that.

There is no right or wrong answer here. Just do what you personally prefer.

Are you New to Dowel Joinery?

If you are new to this, then kits may have more appeal than just a stand-alone jig. You may also want to err on the side of getting one with good instructions.

Of course, these days you can also look up a lot of stuff on the internet. YouTube videos are especially popular for trying to learn anything complex from home, like the use of a tool to help enhance your woodworking.

Our Best Picks

We can’t quite pick just one this time. The first two jigs on our list are both especially useful and neither is terribly expensive. If you can reasonably afford both, get both!

Number 2. Milescraft 1319 JointMate – Handheld Dowel Jig is so drop-dead simple, you will find yourself grabbing it again and again for most jobs. The one real drawback is that it has a somewhat narrow range of wood widths and dowel hole sizes.

So if you need more versatility, you will also want another dowel jig. That’s where our second pick comes in handy.

Number 1. Dowl-it 1000 Self-centering Doweling Jig is the “original” dowel jig. It’s a long-time classic and offers a variety of options. It will serve many more needs.

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Tim Nilson
Tim Nilson / Senior Contributor
Love my job! Work with and test new equipment all the time. More than 10 years of experience! That is why I decided to share my experience with you so you will be able to choose good equipment for your needs!
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