Over the years, I’ve undertaken many woodworking projects with lots of details that required different carpentry tools. Whenever I had to make edge/miter joints, drill holes or join woods, one of the first things I remembered was having a strong, versatile dowel jig that helped me master the craftsmanship.
My thirst for more sophistication had me looking for newer models as they hit the market. Consequently, I just came to share with you a comprehensive guide to buying the best dowel jig, its uses, and care to help you enjoy the crafts with added flexibility.
Still wondering how something as small and little known as a dowel jig comes into great utility for woodworkers, even for the professionals? Let’s get it clear in the first place and then we’ll get to the other parts.
Why Follow Our Lead
Here at Drillly you will find a group of wood enthusiasts that have been committed to this craftsmanship since an early age. We use both hand and power tools for our projects and on this platform, we share our hands-on experience with different woodworking tools. Our intention of preparing this in-depth review on doweling jigs was no different.
Aside from that, we are free from the influence of any power tool manufacturers during our selection process because we are not sponsored by or affiliated with any of them. Our team reviews products following a certain testing procedure described below in the "How We Picked" section.
As a result, you can be sure that what you are getting here is nothing but unbiased reviews prepared by hardcore woodworking lovers. Read on to hunt out the best doweling jig with Drillly.
How We Picked These Products
We gave our best effort to make this list as comprehensive as possible. Whenever we decide to review a product here on Drillly, whether that's a drill press table or a woodworking drill press, we follow a standard testing procedure that involves several hours of product research, several days or months of product testing by ourselves and our volunteers, and then compiling all the data collected to compare the products and find out the most effective ones.
We did the same thing when we reviewed the top doweling jigs on the market. First we made a list of the top 20 after conducting around 22 hours of research online. Then we decided to test them one after another but not all of those models were available to us. So, we asked other professional woodworkers and carpenters in our locality to share with us how useful they found those particular models and how much benefited they really were.
We were fortunate enough to get their opinions and feedback right on time before finishing our testing process. From these findings, we were able to know how well each of these dowel jigs performed as we all put them to applications like drilling dowel holes and making joints at 45 degrees and 90 degrees angled corners. This allowed us to make the list shorter with top 10 choices.
To double check that our finalized choices were really what we were claiming to be, we again browsed through different review sites and looked into real-life customer feedback on those shortlisted dowel jigs. As expected, people were so positive about their overall performances; ensuring that our hard work ultimately paid off well.
Our Top 11 Best Dowel Jig
We are finally presenting to you our top 10 choices. Check every model out and find the right match for you!
Dowel Jig - Definition & Types
Dowel jigs are small tools used for cutting dowel holes that are so common in woodworking. All you have to do is lay the jig on the wood piece and it will create the dowel holes without which the whole process could be problematic and time-consuming.
Irrespective of the many dowel jigs available for sale, they can be classified into three main types - basic, intermediate, and advanced. Your woodworking skill level will determine what type you might prefer. The more you advance in knowledge, the more you will be able to move from one type of dowel jig to another.
This is by far the simplest and most common dowel jig known. Being the basic type, they are mainly used by beginners and apprentices who are yet to grasp the working of more advanced dowel jigs. They are so much easier to understand and safer to use than the other types. If you have never used this tool before then the basic type is the most suited for you. Any DIYer can make such a homemade dowel jig themselves following some easy steps.
This type of dowel jigs can be used by both beginners and advanced dowel jig users. It is not so complex in its operation but comprehensive in structure. They are perfect for the simple and less daunting tasks while you master the art of doweling. They come with instructions that help you while making use of it and also have safety precautions to be followed.
The advanced dowel jigs are being used by professionals who have mastered the art of doweling perfectly well. With the advanced doweling jig, you are able to carry out advanced woodworking tasks. They make the whole process seem easy and ensure you are safe when working with and on them.
Doweling Jig - Buyer’s Guide
There are factors that make one woodworker's preference of a doweling jig differ from that of another. In order to make things easy for you, now we will be outlining the essential considerations for making an informed buying decision:
1. Intended Use
The first thing you should consider is for the purpose for which the dowel jig is needed. Here you have to ask yourself some basic questions like Do I need this for drilling? Making sharp edges? Or just for working on a planer alone? It is on the strength of the decision that other considerations lie.
The accuracy of every dowel jig differs. So what accuracy level are you seeking to achieve? You should know that this is based on the task to be carried. Tough tasks will require that you consider more accurate dowel jigs than other basic tasks.
As a beginner, the dowel jig you will desire will differ from that which will be required when you eventually master doweling. So considering your understanding of how to operate a dowel jig, you should take into consideration the flexibility of the device.
Self-centering is the ability of the dowel jig to center itself and align well on workpieces without you having to initiate the alignment. Almost all jigs are self-centering dowel jigs but the ability of a dowel jig to self-center itself differs from one jig to the other.
5. Multiple Sizes of Bushings
Also, the sizes of bushings just like the self-centering ability differs from dowel jig to the other. While some dowel jigs allow for just two bushings, others allow for as much as six bushings at a time. Don't mistake the number of bushings to make it suitable for use. The size of bushings required should go in line with the intended use.
6. Clamping Capacity
Clamping capacity is the ability of a dowel jig to hold items and loads firmly. Each and every dowel jig comes with its clamping abilities. You should make sure that the dowel jig you are considering has equal or sufficient clamping capacity to the task it is to be used for.
7. Hardened Steel Bushings
Tougher tasks require hardened steel bushings. So if you are just to carry out a basic task, you can opt for any of the jigsaws with ordinary steel bushings. When the task is a tough one, make sure you are all out for a dowel jig with hardened steel bushings.
8. Ease of Use
This is particularly important for beginners. Some models can be complicated and if you try them as a beginner, this will just make you frustrated and exhausted. If you are yet to master the art of dowelling, then do yourself some good considering any of the easy-to-use models.
Dowel Jig Use: Tips & Tricks
In order to help you use a dowel jig safely, we will now be providing you with some tips and tricks. This will help you to make the most of your dowel jig for utmost performance and precision
- Make sure to work with safety precautions: Remember that as good as a dowel jig can be, it can also be very dangerous. This is why it always comes with some safety precautions for use. Make sure to adhere strictly with all of the precautions provided to keep yourself safe always.
- Gradually master the operation of dowel jig: The dowel jig is one that requires a long while to be mastered. It is not a one-day journey to fully understand the working of a dowel jig. Make sure to pay attention to every single detail as you work with the dowel jig, as this is the only way to master it.
- Keep the dowel jig out of reach of children: The dowel jig is not one that should be used as a toy. As a tool, if not handled well, it can be harmful to even adults while children are more vulnerable. Make sure to keep it far away from the reach of children. Alternatively, you can lock them up in safety cupboards, this way you are certain that your kids will not be able to access them.
A Word from Drillly
We believe that here you have found all the info you needed to ensure great outcomes from your projects. The first thing all woodworkers look for in a dowel jig is accuracy and the Drillly team gave all of their effort to find top 10 choices out of a myriad of options.
However, there are also some popular brands like Silverline, Woodpeckers (try their MT Ultimate & Cross), Dowelmax (Classic), Clarke (CDJ2) Task USA, Kreg, Veritas, General Tools, Trend (based in the UK), Sablon (Cross), Eagle America, Stanley (No. 59), Lee Valley, and JessEm known to manufacture high-performance jigs.
Their products were not able to take a place in this shortlist because when we compared all, we were not satisfied with their features for one reason or another. But that does not mean they all are of low quality. If this was a top 20-product review, perhaps some of those models could be listed here.
Make your choice today and do not forget to share your experience with us using the comments section below.