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What is a Dowel Joint?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 16, 2024
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A dowel joint is a wooden joint that is partially or totally held in place by the addition of small round wooden rods called dowels. A dowel construction can provide added stability for the joint of two wood pieces. This kind of joint is popular in many kinds of woodworking.

A dowel is a thin wooden cylinder. Dowel rods of various length sizes are used for all sorts of wooden banisters, fences, and similar constructions including items like towel racks or newspaper holders. Carpenters and woodworkers use much shorter dowels in a dowel joint.

Woodworkers can actually make their own dowels with the aid of a dowel plate. Pushing wooden rods through these sized apertures creates usable dowels for a project that requires a specific circumference. Beechwood is a popular material choice for the short dowels used in dowel joint construction.

Carpenters routinely “prick” boards to prepare them for a kind of construction where dowel pins are effective positioners. Then they bore out appropriate holes for the dowel pins. One of the final steps involves gluing the dowel pins so that they adhere to the two joined pieces.

Dowel joints can be a simple line of dowel pin spaces, or a double line for larger joints that need stronger support. Dowel joints are useful in making tables, chairs, and other furniture, as well as cabinets and much more. Dowel joint construction is part of authentically historic woodworking technique.

Woodworking enthusiasts can find guides for many different kinds of dowel joint projects online or in print. Although many dowel joints are used for flat, 90 degree joints, there are also many other types of projects that rely on dowel joint technique. One of these is a mitered frame, where dowel pins hold a forty five degree joint. Angled joint systems for elaborate banisters, walls, frames or other projects can also use a set of precisely angled dowel pins to help hold structures together over time.

Many builders generally think of dowel joint construction as a woodworking technique, but dowel pins can also provide support for joints in metal machinery and other equipment. Metal dowels are machined to fit a specific frame or structure. Metal dowel pins are also a way to hold concrete frames or structures in place. Planners of large concrete projects may also take advantage of dowel joint design to provide more stability for the safety of public users.

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Discussion Comments

By anon295274 — On Oct 05, 2012

This piece of information was very helpful for my DT prep. It would help if there would be more info on the dowel joint.

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