3 Way dowel jig | New & BIG improvement for QUICK set up | FREE PLANS

by myskylist
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Connecting wood using dowel joinery can be a tricky job.
You have to make sure that the holes in which the dowels will be placed are directly opposite each other if you want to make dead-on dowel connections.
If not, your workpieces will never fit!

Well, you don’t have to worry any longer about that!

With the unique 3-ways dowel jig that you can discover in this article, making joints with dowels is super easy and fast.
Unlike a regular dowel jig, which can only make end-to-end dowel joints, this 3-way dowel jig can also make right-angled and T-shaped joints.
On top of that, the unique design of this homemade dowel jig allows a faster setup than other doweling jigs.

With the instructions in this blog, you will learn step by step how to make a dowel jig. To help with making this jig, you can download the DIY dowel jig plans for free. That will make building this wood dowel jig even easier.

No more struggling to make dowel connections from now on!
With this DIY doweling jig, you become the king of the dowel connections! 
In fact, it’s that easy, even kids can make dowel joints with this DIY dowel jig.

Download the DIY dowel jig plans, make your own dowel jig, and connect wood using dowel joinery like a pro.

I’ll show you how to make this 3-ways dowel joint jig!

Table of Contents

What is a dowel jig used for?

A regular dowel jig is a tool with custom-made and wear-free drill holes. You can use a dowel jig when you want to connect two planks with dowels.
By using the doweling jig, the holes for the dowels can be drilled exactly opposite each other, resulting in a dowel connection that fits perfectly.

With this 3way dowel jig, you can connect end to end, right-angle and T-shaped.

Is a dowel jig necessary?

If you have a lot of time and can measure and drill very precisely, then the answer to the question, Is a dowel jig necessary, is NO!

However, if you want the work to progress quickly, and you want to be sure that the dowel hole has been drilled very accurately, the answer is: YES!

However, I can recommend that you always use a dowel jig to achieve the best results. As you will discover in this article, a doweling jig is very easy to make yourself.

Watch the video here

In this video, you can discover how I made my doweling jig. After watching this video, you can go on reading this article and discover all details you need on how to make a dowel jig.

What do you need to make a dowel jig?

To prepare you for building this project, I have made a few handy lists.

In addition to a few personal protective equipment that I use*, I also list the materials as well as the (power) tools you will need to build this jig.

* Safety is always your own responsibility!

Safety first! protect yourself!

Materials I used for this 3-ways dowel jig

(power)Tools I used for this doweling jig










How to make a dowel jig step by step

Step 1 | Preparation

To make this 3-ways dowel jig you can download the free DIY dowel jig plans in this blog.

I applied the template of the base of this DIY dowel jig with a glue spray on the piece of wood. In my case, this was 15 mm thick white oak, a piece of scrap wood from a previous project. 

However, you can use any type of wood for this, but I recommend choosing a harder wood type. The wood you use for this homemade dowel jig must be able to take a beating.

Step 2 | Making the base

First, I drilled all holes in this DIY dowel jig.
Because I will be using 8 mm thick dowels, I designed this jig for this. Do you use a different type of dowels? Make sure to adjust the sizes of the drills.

Since the dowels I am using are 8 mm, I drilled the ends of the slots with an 8 mm drill. These slots must not be wider or the 3-ways dowel joint jig will not work properly.
So pay attention to the correctness of the width of these slots.
The hollow tube that I use as a guide for the drill has an inside diameter of 8 mm and an outside diameter of 10 mm.
The full round metal also has a diameter of 10 mm. So I could drill these 3 holes with a 10 mm diameter drill.

Because the hole at the end of the handle should be big enough to enter a button with washer of 24 mm diameter, I drilled this hole with a Forstner drill of 25 mm.

The extra mm that the hole is larger than the button ensures that the button can be attached or removed easily and quickly.

After drilling the holes, I could make the slots.
For this, I used my homemade router jig with which I can make perfectly straight cuts.
By aligning the line of the jig with the line on the template I was sure that the slot could be made perfectly in the center with an exact width of 8 mm.

After taking these steps, the base for this 3-ways dowel jig looked like the picture below for now.

Where the jig narrows to the handle, I rounded the corners. This gives the DIY dowel jig a modern look, but it is also easy to cut this inner corner if, like me, you don’t have a band saw available.

The round shape can be drilled out with a 40 mm Forstner drill.

The straight lines could be easily cut with the table saw and the crosscut sled.
To cut out the handle, it was easier to clamp the jig against the fence of the crosscut sled and raise the saw blade. In this way, there was a perfect connection obtained between the straight line of the handle and the previously drilled round corner.

I rounded the outside corners of the 3-ways dowel jig  with my drill press drum sander.

Once I trimmed the outer edges of the DIY dowel jig  to the lines on the template, I was able to remove the template. I did this with the oscillating sander and 80 grit sandpaper.

Then the edges were chamfered with a 45-degree bevel cutter on my palm router.
Be sure to make gentle cuts when using a bevel cutter. This can cause burn marks if you press the router bit too long or too hard against the wood.

After chamfering, I sanded the workpiece with 150 grit sandpaper, followed by grit 220.

Tip:

If you want to know more about how to determine the right sandpaper for your project, be sure to check out my blog: The perfect sandpaper grit guide for woodworking.

Everything you need to know about sandpaper can be found in this article. It will no doubt give you a better understanding of the proper use of sandpaper.

There is also a FREE downloadable guide available to help you determine the right sandpaper grit.

Highly recommended.

The base of the 3-ways dowel joint jig was now ready, and the hardware could be added.

The hollow tube that I used as a guide for the drill is stainless steel with an outer diameter of 10 mm and an inner diameter of 8 mm. The length of the part needed is the same as the thickness of the wood I used.

The round metal dowels have a length of 35 mm and a diameter of 10 mm.

I cut the metal parts  manually with my hacksaw, and trimmed the rough edges with the file so that there was no burr left.

Because a cut in metal is never perfectly square, I used the following trick:
I clamped the metal  in the drill press.
That is why it is important to remove all burrs with a file in advance, otherwise, the metal will end up diagonally in the drill press, and you will not get a square result.

By running the drill press and lowering the metal against a sanding board, the end of the metal could be sanded flat.
Afterward, I was able to make a chamfer by holding the file at a 45-degree angle against the rotating metal.

To fix the drill guide and the two metal dowels in the 3-ways dowel jig I used epoxy glue. After curing, this glue will make a solid connection between the wood and the metal.

I always mix the two components of epoxy glue on a piece of painter’s tape. This way I can always check through the unused glue on the tape whether the adhesive has hardened sufficiently. After that, the tape can be easily removed and the unused epoxy glue can be cleaned up.

Step 3 | The knob

To make the button, I used my mini button maker jig.
Not wanting the center hole to be visible at the top of the knob, I drilled the center hole halfway through the wood.

More details on how to make this button, and also the free template for making this jig can be found on this blog.

After making the button, I enlarged the center hole  with a 15 mm Forstner drill. That is more than enough to glue the head of the bolt to this button.

The depth of the hole was slightly deeper than the thickness of the head of the bolt. The result was that the head of the bolt is below the surface of the wood.

To ensure a strong connection, the bolt was, just like the metal parts, attached to the wood with epoxy glue.
Because the bolt could be pushed deeper than the surface of the wood, epoxy glue could be added on top of the bolt head. Like that, the epoxy glue covered the head of the bolt completely, which results in a solid connection.

Step 4 | Adjustable stop block

While the glue, that is there to connect the parts, had to harden, I got to work to make the adjustable stop block for this wood dowel jig.

On the template that you can download in this blog, you will also find the template that you can use to make the stop block.

Stick this on the piece of wood you want to use with spray glue.

In this stop block, A hole must be drilled in the center, in which a T-nut can be attached.

The T-nut allows you to connect this stop block to the base of the 3-way dowel joint jig thanks to the button.

I made the hole in this stop block in 2 steps.

The first step was to drill a shallow hole with the same diameter as the T-Nut. In my case, I made this hole with a 24 mm Forstner drill.

The depth of the hole should be just a little deeper than the thickness of the T nut. When you apply it, the T-nut will be flush with the surface of the wood.

The second step was to drill a hole all the way through the wood with a 10 mm drill bit.

Using my vise, I pressed the T-nut into the drilled hole.
Be sure to put something, such as a piece of plywood or cloth, between the vise jaws and the wood. This way, you can be sure that the vise will not damage the wood.

Step 5 | Assembling

All parts for this 3-ways dowel jig are now ready, and you can start assembling.

Before I assembled all parts, I applied linseed oil on the wood. It saturates and protects the wood so that this wood dowel jig can last a long time.

To apply the linseed oil I always use a stainpad wood stain applicator.
It does not fluff like a cloth, spreads the oil evenly, and does not drip.
I highly recommend the stainpad wood stain applicator for your workshop.

Once you have used the stainpad wood stain applicator, you will never use a rag or cloth to apply oil again.

After applying the oil you can mount the stop block on the base of this homemade dowel jig and this 3-ways dowel jig is ready for use.

Below I will briefly explain how you can use this 3-ways dowel jig to make a dowel joint between two pieces of wood. It is possible to do this in 3 different ways.

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How to use a dowel jig?

A dowel jig is easy to use in 7 simple steps:

  • Place the boards you want to connect with dowels against each other.
  • Mark a line that crosses the two boards.
  • Line up the dowel jig with the mark and drill a hole.
  • Apply wood glue to each hole.
  • Now put dowels in the holes of 1 board.
  • Connect the two boards by sliding the dowels into the holes.
  • Clamp the boards until the glue is dry.

As I mentioned in the intro of this article, you can use this doweling jig in 3 different ways.
Below, I discuss the 3 different methods with which you can make dowel joints with this jig.

Method 1

The first method is for when you want to connect 2 boards together with dowels.
Clamp the 3-ways dowel jig on the narrow side of the board where you want to place a dowel and drill a hole just a little deeper than half the length of the dowel.
In the same way, drill as many holes as you want to place dowels.

Once you have placed a dowel, you can slide the 3-ways dowel joint jig with the hole that guides the drill over the dowel.
By sliding the stop block against the board, you determine the distance at which the dowel stands compared to the edge of the board. Once this distance has been set, it should never change.

Now place the board with which you want to make the connection back to back against the board where you have already placed the dowels.
By placing the homemade dowel jig with the slot in front, over a dowel, just as far as the stop block is on the plank, you can now drill a hole exactly opposite the dowel.

Method 2

Set the stop block just like in the previous method.
Instead of placing the board on the short side, you can now place it flat on the workbench.
Now place the board with the dowels on top of the board where you want to make the holes and place the 3-ways dowel jig with the stop block against the edge of the board, and the slot over the dowel.

In the same way, you can drill the holes and connect the boards at right angles.

Method 3

If you want to place a board at right angles to the center of another board, you can use this method.
You do not need the stop block for this, so you can unhook it from the 3-ways dowel jig.

Mark a line at the center where the board should be. 

Place the board with the dowels on the front of this line, with the dowels pointing towards the line.
Now place the homemade dowel jig with the slot over the dowel and move the jig until the drill guide is above the marked line.
Now you can drill a hole at the exact place where the dowel should be. Repeat this step for each dowel you want to place.


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