Dowel drilling and use guidelines
A quick guide to dowel clearances and practices, including drilling depth, diameter-to-edge ratios, and dowel selection. 1998.
by Jon Elvrum
What are the proper clearances to observe when boring dowel holes?
1. The distance from a dowel edge to the edge of a panel should not be less than the dowel's radius.
2. When drilling into the end of a board, plan for 2/3 of the dowel's length to be inserted. When inserting into the face of a board, target 1/3 of the dowel's length. If wet glue is used add 1 mm to the bottom of each drilling. Because of a cantilever effect, the dowel strength is increased. If you use pre-glued dowels (water activated) this additional depth is not required.
3. Use straight flute dowels, not spiral dowels in sub-strater panels such as MDF or particle board. Use spiral grooved dowels in hardwood. There are illustrations available in a past WOODWEB article (you can find it by searching the archives on the phrase "dowel"), and in a Custom Woodworking Business article titled "System Drilling" (published last year).
Jon Elvrum, Director of Distribution and Sales at Ritter Manufacturing in Antioch California, is also a well known author and consultant to the cabinetmaking industry. He has written numerous articles on the 32mm cabinetmaking system and production woodworking in general.
Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?
Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
KnowledgeBase: Adhesives, Gluing and Laminating: Glues and Bonding Agents
KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Commercial Cabinetry
KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Custom Cabinet Construction
KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: General
KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Residential Cabinetry
KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: General
KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous: Woodworking
KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base
KnowledgeBase: Panel Processing
KnowledgeBase: Panel Processing: General
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in
any manner without permission of the Editor.
Review Woodweb.com's Copyright Policy.
The editors, writers, and staff at Woodweb.com try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at Woodweb.com after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.
865 Troxel Road
Lansdale, PA 19446
Copyright © 1996-2021 - Woodweb.com