Friday, June 5, 2015

A Case for Dowels...

My latest book is complete and published, I can get back to woodworking now. Writing, editing, and publishing a book is such an intensive process, it demands total focus.

In many of my cabinet assemblies I use dowels to attach the sides to the top and bottom. The use of dowels gives flexibility to the design of the corner joint. For example, I can offset the side panels away from the edge of the top or bottom and in the process work the protruding edge of the top and bottom into a shaped contour,chamfer, rabbet, etc. The alternative would be to use specific corner joints which need to have the side panel and top or bottom panel intersect right at the very edge. An example of this would be a dovetailed joint, a box joint, or a rabbet and lip edge. If you've ever read up on James Krenov and his work, you will find that he embraces the dowelled corner joint for these very same reasons. This is where I received the inspiration for this type of joint and its virtues.

Creating the dowelled joint involves accurate measurement , but most importantly it involves the little jig you can see in the photo, the dowelling guide. This is a piece of wood with the exact dimensions of the panel I am dowelling, the length and thickness. The dowel holes are marked with arbitrary spacing and the dowel guide holes are bored out on the drill press. I use this dowelling guide to create the dowel holes on both of the mating surfaces, in this case the side panel and the top or bottom panel. There is some skill involved in aligning the dowelling guide to both surfaces since the holes for the dowels need to be perfectly aligned. Marking and orienting the dowelling guide to the correct edges becomes very important and I make many pencil marks in the process. The old adage, "measure twice , cut once" is better written as "measure and mark three times, drill once" for this process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder. Dowels are plenty strong for case work. In my opinion they are often more appropriate than dovetails which call attention to the intersections, detracting from the wholeness of the piece.
Bruce Mack