Doweling Machine Choice: CNC or Not?

When is it worth having CNC capability in doweling operations? December 2, 2011

I would love to get advice based on shops that utilize a doweling machine.

1. Do you think CNC doweling machine is necessary over the older non-CNC dowel drilling and insertion machine?

2. If you own a non-dowel insertion machine (Gannomat Optima 25), is it worth the upgrade to CNC or is it just more trouble than it's worth?

3. Should all doweling operations (vertical and horiz) be done on the doweling machine to eliminate the headache of calibrating the CNC nested based router for vertical with the doweling machine for horizontal? Or is this trivial?

4. How well do the dowel glue and insertion machines work in conjunction with a basic drilling machine?

5. If you were to add doweling to your operation today, what's the low cost entry machine you would consider? CNC, non-CNC with insertion, or drill with manual insertion?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor C:
We are buying an Omal 1300. We will be writing parametric programs - with “if” and “then” statements. Just walk up to it and drill and dowel. No bar code reader, nothing needed.

From contributor B:

We have used a Gannomat Mentor to bore for a few years. We now use a CNC bore and insert machine. Ours also does vertical boring.

1. A CNC machine is faster, more accurate, and easy to use.

2. It is not more trouble than it is worth.

3. I can't answer because we bore on one machine and don't have a nested based machine but I would think using the nested machine to bore vertically makes a lot of sense.

4. Don't have experience can't say.

5. There are a lot of good low cost machines. I would consider the support that comes with the machine. Other than that I would stick with strong name brands. I buy the best I can afford - you get what you pay for.

From contributor G:
1. Yes.

2. More trouble, changeover can be cumbersome and time consuming.

3. We feel a horizontal is all that is needed. Accuracy on the router is great and the inserter can be easily made to match the router. We looked at the vertical options but don't envision going to doweled drawers any time soon.

4. I don't understand what you are asking.

5. The insertion only machines seem pointless when cost justifying a drill and dowel insertion machine. Non-CNC was not considered by us. The H-49 we are looking at is far more affordable than the rest we have looked at and is American made.

From contributor S:
If the machine is only for dowel drill/insert I would not go with CNC. The CNC costs more, is slower and is a lot more complicated if it breaks down. I know that some say CNC dowelers are faster but I think it depends on your construction setup. We never change/move the bits on our doweling machine. Weather it is a wall, closet, kitchen, or office cabinet we do not change anything. This means doweling five holes takes about ten seconds. No barcodes, no parametric rules, no screen to select the pattern just a simple machine that drills all the holes very fast. If you have to move the holes it is a lot faster to move the drill/insert heads on the manual machine (they are located with pins) than to write a new boring program in the PLC of a CNC machine.

From the original questioner:
Speed is definitely important and I agree with you - the more electronics, the more possibility of repair. I will attend AWFS and see if I can't get to the bottom of what's best for us. In this economy, cost is a huge factor so CNC may just be too expensive.