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What are the essential tools for dowelling?

Shop for Dowels

A hand drill which is not particularly accurate for dowelling While it’s possible to go it alone with just a hand drill, dowels and glue, if you’re starting a serious woodworking project that involves the use of dowels, you’ll want to make sure you’re set up for making accurate, quick joints.
Image of a tool bag that an overenthusiastic DIYer has brought along to make sure that they have everything they need for their dowelling project What tools do you need to hand to make sure you’re properly equipped?

Basic dowelling tools

A dowelling kit containing centre points, drill stop, allen key, dowels and a brad point drill bit

Dowelling kit

Dowelling kits contain all of the basic equipment needed for dowelling, right down to the dowels themselves.

Wonkee Donkee recommends that buying a dowelling kit is the best way to get all of the essential tools that you need for dowelling
DIYer checking off a list of essential dowelling tools

What if you already have some of the equipment from the dowelling kit?

You can find out which tools come with a dowelling kit by reading the guide: What do dowelling kits contain?

Essential dowelling tools

A very relaxed DIYer resting easy in the knowledge that they have all of the tools they need for dowelling These are the tools that will make your life as easy as possible when it comes to dowelling.
Centre points used for marking where the drill holes need to be in a second piece of wood when making a joint using dowels

Tools for accuracy

To make sure you’re correctly positioning your dowel holes in your second piece of wood, you’ll need some centre points.

Image of a drill stop which is used to aid in drilling holes to accurate depths and an allen key to allow it to be tightened to fit securely onto a drill bit when drilling holes for dowelling A drill stop and allen key are vital for making sure you drill holes to an accurate depth.
Tape measure for measuring distance between dowel holes Measuring equipment such as tape measures, steel rules or squares will be needed for accurately measuring dowel lengths, calculating the depth needed for drill holes, and for accurately attaching and locating drill stops.
Dowel rods and pegs for use in dowel joinery

Dowel pegs or dowel rods

You can either use dowel pegs, which are a pre-cut to a uniform length, or you can use dowel rods, which you cut yourself.

Image of a jigsaw which is used to cut dowel rods If you decide to use dowel rods, you will need a saw to cut them with. The saw most commonly used for this purpose is a jigsaw.
Wonkee Donkee makes a joke about cutting dowels with a jigsaw
Wood glue which is used to secure dowels into place during dowel joinery

Glue

This is an essential component of the dowelling process if you’re trying to make strong joints for furniture or for framing. This may or may not be included in a dowelling kit, so you may have to source it separately.

PVA glue which is used as an adhesive when making dowel joints Make sure you’re using wood glue. PVA is a common type.
Image of a brad point drill bit which is the ideal type of drill bit for use in dowel joinery

Drilling equipment

You will need a drill bit that matches the size of the dowels you intend to use.

For more information on drill bits, see: Which drill bits should you use to drill dowel holes?

Image of a drill press which is the most accurate drilling tool for dowelling projects You’ll also need a drill to insert the bit into. The most accurate tool you can use for this purpose is a drill press.
Image of a power drill which can be used for dowelling projects but is less reliably accurate than a drill press It is also possible to use a power drill, although this can only be relied on for accuracy if used with a dowelling jig.
A mallet which is used in dowelling to tap dowels into drilled holes

Mallet

Mallets are useful for both tapping dowel pegs into drilled holes and separating wood joints after dry fitting them to test for alignment.

See: How to use dowels to make wooden joints.