Author Topic: YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig  (Read 19086 times)

pjamesd

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YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig
« on: February 13, 2009, 06:51:12 PM »

Has anyone made Phil's doweling jig. I'd like to make one, be interested in hearing from anyone who has.

Paul

phil (admin)

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Re: YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2009, 09:04:15 AM »
I've made one.   ;D

After writing about my "sliding doweling jig" (based on a jig I saw in Fine Woodworking), I heard from a number of people that complained that: (1) They had difficulty drilling perfectly straight holes that are 1-1/2" deep and (2) They've had trouble locating the spacers I use as bushings.

I've also thought long and hard about doweling jigs and how I could improve my design. To make it more universal, so that it could be used in table stretchers and face frames and cabinet carcases alike.

While I was doing my thinking, I discovered that Rockler now sells an inexpensive doweling jig (only $9.99 as of this writing). Here, this one:

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=18059&filter=dowel%20jig

It is simply a hardened drill bushing with two 3/8" holes, attached to a transparent guide featuring center lines. Rockler seems to really be pitching it for face frames.

So I purchased a couple of them to experiment with, and I've come to the opinion that it actually ideally suited to all sorts of doweling tasks. With a little modification, that is.

The clear plastic guide has got to go. First, it is too slippery and when clamped to the workpiece is inclined to allow movement while drilling. Second, I don't like referencing from the center of the holes of the guide. I prefer to reference from the edges of the steel bushing instead.

So I made three new hardboard guides to replace the original transparent guide. Each board is sized according to its use: (1) This first guide is for face frames, and is 1-3/4" wide and 4" long. All my face frames are 1-3/4" wide, and the steel drill bushing is 2" wide. So using the edge of the steel drill bushing as a reference won't work. BUT, by attaching a 1-3/4" wide hardboard guide, I can now use the edge of my shop-made guide as a reference. I simply align the edges of the guide with the edges of my frame member, clamp, and drill my two holes. I don't think it could be any faster.

(2) The second guide is for edge-drilling cabinet pieces, and is 2" wide and 4" long. It is a little redundant, as the 1-3/4" wide guide would have sufficed. At the time, I supposed the extra width would help in gripping the workpiece. But with the use of the non-slip stair tape (see below), that really isn't a concern.

(3) The third and final (so far) guide is for face-drilling cabinet pieces, and is 2" wide but only 2-1/4" long (so it extends only 3/4" below the bottom of the steel drill bushing). This allows me to drill face holes in cabinet pieces.

Each of my shop-made guides has non-slip stair tape covering it entire face. The non-slip tape extends all the way under the steel bushing. This tape provides a death grip that prevents the bushing from moving while drilling.

While doing cabinets, the two pairs of outside holes (flush front and flush back) are easy, just align to the edge of the steel drill bushing, clamp, and drill. For holes in the center of the panel, simply use your combination square to locate the steel bushing. You can easily drill four sets of two holes with a single combination square setting (one referencing the front edge of the piece, one referencing the rear edge of the piece). If you need more, use two combination squares, or make a jig that references from previously drilled holes.

I've included some pictures showing the unit in its various configurations (under use), and some of the results. I'm extremely happy with the outcome. Edges are perfectly aligned, and it requires minimal effort to achieve excellent results. Cost is nominal, and the design is flexible enough that I can easily add spacers for things like offset joints.

I'm happy to have another alternative to joining wood that is strong, flexible, and very inexpensive.

I have concluded that a drill bushing with two holes is actually ideal when it comes to flexibility. You'd think two holes is going to require excessive repositioning. That, four or five holes would be wiser. In reality, though, I don't often want to run a line of four or five holes in a row, you don't need that many closely spaces holes in a cabinet joint. And for something like an apron to leg joint, it is easy to get four holes with a single move of the jig, and the holes are arranged symmetrically in the joint. And for face frames (where two holes is obviously ideal) you don't struggle with a bulky jig that wants to fall off the frame member while you're trying to clamp it.

phil (admin)

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Re: YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2009, 09:11:45 AM »
If you still want to make one of the sliding jigs, I'd suggest starting by locating the spacers (used as bushings).  Once you have those, practice making perfectly perpendicular holes in the block that holes the bushings.

But I honestly think you can't beat the Rockler jig.  Two holes is better than five!

Oh, and I should also mention that I never use brad-point bits for drilling dowel holes.  I find conventional metal bits work better.  I think if brad-point bits had perfectly centered points, they'd work better.  But most of them don't.

pjamesd

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Re: YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2009, 03:27:17 PM »
Hey Phil,

Well, I'd say that got the ball rolling. Naturally I've got questions. I know you must have thought about referencing off a second edge 90 degrees to the reference edge you use, how come you decided not to? Maybe with something that flips down that you could use or not use , like the Genie utilizes. 

The drill bushings I use now are the ones Lee Valley sells where you drill a 5/8" hole for an insert and screw in whatever size bushing you want. But the bushings are only 3/4" high and not the greatest for doweling. So what would be a good source for say 1 1/2" long bushings? I want to experiment with some other dowel jig designs. Before I build you sliding version I'll give the Rockler's a try.

Also, I've used hardwood dowel rods in the past, but they vary in size and are often not even round; I invariably end up chucking  them in the drill press with inconsistent results. So what do you recommend as far as dowels, do you use the expansible? I'm going to order a pair of those jigs from Rockler tonight, might as well get some dowels to go with them.

Thanks for the great response to my question, I'm excited about trying this. And thanks for the tip on the brad point but as well, that's what I had been using.

Regards,

Paul
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 06:40:41 PM by pjamesd »

phil (admin)

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Re: YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2009, 07:07:34 PM »
Hey Phil,

Well, I'd say that got the ball rolling. Naturally I've got questions. I know you must have thought about referencing off a second edge 90 degrees to the reference edge you use, how come you decided not to? Maybe with something that flips down that you could use or not use , like the Genie utilizes.

I lost you.  I'm afraid I don't know what a Genie is.
 
The drill bushings I use now are the ones Lee Valley sells where you drill a 5/8" hole for an insert and screw in whatever size bushing you want. But the bushings are only 3/4" high and not the greatest for doweling. So what would be a good source for say 1 1/2" long bushings? I want to experiment with some other dowel jig designs. Before I build you sliding version I'll give the Rockler's a try.

I was simply using spacers that I purchased at my local Ace hardware store.  They are a mild steel, but they could be hardened if one wished.

Also, I've used hardwood dowel rods in the past, but they vary in size and are often not even round; I invariably end up chucking  them in the drill press with inconsistent results. So what do you recommend as far as dowels, do you use the expansible? I'm going to order a pair of those jigs from Rockler tonight, might as well get some dowels to go with them.

I use 'em all.  I'd love to claim to be a dowel purist and that I only use expansible.  But I typically buy in small quantities and buy whatever the shop I'm in has on hand.

Thanks for the great response to my question, I'm excited about trying this. And thanks for the tip on the brad point but as well, that's what I had been using.

Regards,

Paul

I love doweling jigs because they allow an average woodworker (I strive to be average) achieve rock-solid, great-looking joints.  Doweling jigs needn't be expensive, and once one is in your hand your mind starts thinking about new ways to use it, and ways to improve it.

So I look forward to hearing some new and improved doweling jig ideas from you!   ;D

pjamesd

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Re: YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2009, 01:19:03 PM »

My mistake, the jig is called the Joint Genie, it's a doweling jig.

http://www.joint-genie.co.uk/home_page.html

Pretty clever idea, don't know how convenient attaching the jig with screws would be but some good ideas.

When we were talking about drill bushings and you said you had gotten spacers, not sure what you mean?

phil (admin)

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Re: YO!! Making Phil's Doweling Jig
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2009, 03:23:09 PM »

My mistake, the jig is called the Joint Genie, it's a doweling jig.

http://www.joint-genie.co.uk/home_page.html

Pretty clever idea, don't know how convenient attaching the jig with screws would be but some good ideas.

When we were talking about drill bushings and you said you had gotten spacers, not sure what you mean?

Okay, I know what you're talking about now.  I remember seeing that some time ago.

The edge reference he uses is nice.  But I find it doesn't take much to use the flat edge of my combination square to align with the edge of the workpiece.  And because the Rockler units do two holes, I work from both edges of the workpiece.

So for that piece he was drilling, I'd align the Rockler jig to the left edge, clamp, and drill.  Then I'd align to the right edge, clamp, and drill.  So I reference off both edges at times.

For my jig, I didn't use hardened bushings.  The drill guides I used were actually spacers, found in the hardware isle of my Ace Hardware.  They have an O.D. of 1/2", and I.D. of 3/8", and a length of 1/2".  They are about $1 each, and I just glue 'em in.

If you want to harden them, just hit 'em with a little torch until they are red hot, then quench in water.

Although I did quite a bit of drilling with the unhardened bushings and never felt like I needed to harden them.  I did harden some just to find out of I could.  But it was more for fun than anything else.