How to accurately align dowel joints

 
     
     
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 Dowel holes being redrilled in a piece of wood with more accurate guidelines 

Properly aligning the dowel holes in each piece of wood you want to join is vital if you want to make sure they fit together properly.

 
     
 Misaligned boards that have been badly joined due to the inaccurate drilling of dowel holes 

Badly aligned holes can prevent your pieces of wood from fitting together at all.

 
     
 DIYer measuring out dowel marks by hand to ensure accuracy when dowelling 

While accuracy is possible by measuring by hand, it is time consuming and mistakes are easy to make.

 

There are a couple of tricks to making sure that your dowel holes are properly aligned.

 
     
   

Using centre points

 
 Two centre points which are used to create accurate dowel joints 

Centre points are tools designed to turn one half of a wooden joint into a template that will allow you to locate the drilling points for dowel holes on the other half of the joint.

 
     
 Diagram of a centre point with labels to show which end inserts into a dowel hole and which end makes a mark on the other side of the wood joint 

One side of the centre point is designed to fit snugly inside a pre-drilled dowel hole. The other is a sharp point.

 
     
 Inserting centre points into pre-drilled dowel holes to make a wooden joint 

Step 1 - Insert centre points into pre-drilled holes

Once you have reached a stage where all of your dowel holes are drilled into the first part of your joint, insert centre points into each of them.

 
     
 Diagram illustrating the way that centre points are used to make an impression in a wood edge or surface when making a dowel joint 

Step 2 - Align joint and apply pressure

Carefully square up your joint, then apply pressure. The centre points will prick holes in the second piece of wood, showing you exactly where the new holes need to be drilled.

 
     
 DIYer drilling a dowel hole with a power drill 

Provided you are accurate when drilling, this guarantees that your second set of holes will be correctly spaced.

 
     
   

Using a dowelling jig

 
 Dowelling jig available in some dowelling kits used for accurate location of dowels 

It's also possible to use a dowelling jig to make sure that all holes are drilled in precisely the correct location.

 
     
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