How do you drill a perpendicular dowel hole?

 
     
     
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 Drill press drilling a dowel hole perpendicular to the wood surface 

When using dowels for joinery, it's important to make sure that any dowel holes you drill are perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to the wood.

 
     
 Image of a dowel joint that won't connect because the dowel holes are not straight 

If your holes are not perpendicular, your joint will not connect properly and there may be gaps. This can be a big problem in furniture making as it can cause other parts not to fit correctly. 

 
     
 Image of a hand drill to advise DIYer not to drill free hand 

Drilling freehand should be avoided. To guarantee perpendicular drill holes, a drill press or dowelling jig should be used.

 
     
   

Using a drill press

 
 Drill press used for guaranteeing perpendicular drill holes when dowelling 

A drill press is a tool with a motorised, vertical drill bit.

 
     
 DIYers creating perpendicular dowel holes by using a drill press handle to raise and lower the bit 

A side mounted handle enables the user to raise and lower the bit.

 
     
 Image of a drill press table which ensures accuracy when drilling dowel holes by making a perpendicular hole 

The tool itself has a drilling surface on which you can rest the piece of wood that you are drilling. The drill bit is perpendicular to this table.

 
     
 Image to show that the drill bit in the drill press can only move up and down while drilling dowel holes, rather than side to side 

The drill bit cannot move from side to side in a drill press. If the piece of wood you are working on is kept flat on the table, it is not possible to drill anything other than a perpendicular hole!

 
     
   Wonkee Donkee explains why a drill press is so accurate and useful for making dowel joints 
     
   

Using a dowelling jig 

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

Dowelling jigs have metal tubes called 'drill bushes' that guide the bit of a hand drill or power drill to make sure it stays perpendicular to the wood. 

 
     
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