8 Best Dowel Jigs 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
In many cases, the best way to create a joint is to use a dowel, but trying to drill matching dowel holes freehand is incredibly difficult. Dowel jigs simplify the process by giving you an accurate, easy to use tool that provides dependable results. However, sorting through the many brands can be challenging, and there can be a significant difference between models.
We’ve chosen eight different dowel jigs to review, so you can see the difference between them as well as any special features one might have that another doesn’t. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide to help you learn more about how these tools work.
Join us while we take an in-depth look at housing material, wood stock size, dowel size, ease of use, and more to help you make an informed purchase.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Wolfcraft 3751405 Pro Doweling Jig Kit||
|Best Value||Milescraft 1319 Handheld Dowel Jig||
|Premium Choice||Eagle America 445-7600 Self-Centering Dowel Jig||
|Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig||
|Milescraft 1311 Doweling Jig||
The 8 Best Dowel Jigs – Reviews 2021
1. Wolfcraft 3751405 Pro Doweling Jig Kit – Best Overall
The Wolfcraft 3751405 Pro Doweling Jig Kit is our pick for the best overall dowel jig. It features a compact design with durable aluminum construction. It’s lightweight and easy to set up and even comes with a complete instruction manual explaining each step of the doweling process. It can all work with material from 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches thick, helping you create 1/4, 5/16, 3/8-inch dowel holes for your projects. The jig has 2 parts that help clamp the wood to keep your project secure while you drill, and 3 steel depth stops to ensure accurate drilling depth and maximum versatility. It comes with 60 fluted dowel pins to help you get started immediately.
The only complaint we have about the Wolfcraft 3751405 Pro is that the drill stops use slotted screws instead of hex screws, so it’s harder to get a tight grip on the drill bit.
2. Milescraft 1319 Handheld Dowel Jig – Best Value
The Milescraft 1319 Handheld Dowel Jig is our pick for the best dowel jig for the money because it’s fast and easy to use. It features a unique design in which 4 pegs work to self-center the jig, so there is no need for measurements or markings. Chambers cut into the device help you to line up your dowels, so the boards go together accurately. You can use it with lumber from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches thick, and it will help you make holes for 1/4, 5/16, 3/8-inch dowels. Steel bushings help to ensure long life.
The biggest problem we had with the Milescraft 1319 was that the handle wasn’t always at a convenient angle. The jig is all one piece and centers itself using the plastic feet, which often puts the jig handle at a less than ideal angle to hold it while drilling.
3. Eagle America Self-Centering Dowel Jig – Premium Choice
The Eagle America 445-7600 Self-Centering Dowel Jig is our premium choice dowel jig. This accurate jig is suitable for 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2-inch dowels, which adds 2 larger sizes than our other top models. The anodized aluminum body is lightweight yet durable enough to last many years, and the bushings use hardened steel to protect them from wear. You can use any wood from 1/4 to 6 inches thick, which is a wider range than our top models, and it features 2 self-centering holes with 2 bushings each.
The biggest problem we had with Eagle America was that it wasn’t very accurate out of the box and needed calibration. Luckily, this is one of the few tools that allow calibration, and once adjusted, it worked perfectly; however, it wasn’t as great on edge to surface joints as our top choice.
4. Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig
The Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig can work with wood up to 2 inches thick and can create 2 parallel holes without moving the jig. It can make holes for 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2-inch dowels and comes with 6 hardened steel bushings, 2 for each of the 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8 sizes. It’s self-centering and made from durable aluminum.
We like using the Woodstock, and the only problem we had with it was that the largest 1/2-inch size hole was slightly too small and would grab the drill bit, so we could not use it for 1/2-inch dowels.
5. Milescraft 1311 Doweling Jig
The Milescraft 1311 Doweling Jig is unique in that it allows you to clamp both boards simultaneously and can create up to 3 holes without moving the jig. It is suitable for making holes that fit 1/4, 5/16, 3/8-inch dowels, and can work with wood between 1/2 and 1 1/2 inches thick. It’s made from durable aluminum and includes detailed instructions on creating several different joints.
The downside to the Milescraft 1311 is that it demands a high degree of accuracy from the user when setting up the project. This slightest inaccuracy when aligning the boards will result in a flawed joint. There are also 4 screws holding the guide in place, so it’s tedious to change between projects, and the screws are soft and easily stripped. It’s a decent dowel jig, but it will take some practice to become skilled at using it.
6. AUTOTOOLHOME Self Centering Doweling Jig
The AUTOTOOLHOME Self Centering Doweling Jig is a self-centering jig made of aircraft-grade aluminum for extreme durability. It provides for accurate positioning and features a hardened steel center block to resist wear from drill bits. It also includes 6 hardened and steel bushings with smooth moving threads for precise depth control. It can work with round or square wood up to 2 1/2 inches thick and is suitable for making 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2-inch dowels. A large steel clamping screw allows you to apply as much pressure as needed.
While the AUTOTOOLHOME worked well enough, we found that it didn’t grip the project very well and required excessive tightening, often with pliers’ help, to get it to hold the project without sliding. It also needed some adjustment out the box to make it self-centering, and it’s quite expensive for what you get.
7. Rockler Corner Key Doweling Jig
The Rockler Corner Key Doweling Jig is unique in that it’s for creating decorative joints. Unlike most dowel jigs, this tool drills from the outside of the joint leaving the dowels exposed for an artistic appearance. It drills dowel holes at a 45° angle and creates holes for 1/8, 1/4, 3/8-inch dowels. A clear alignment window and molded reference lines make it easy to align your project and drill with confidence.
The downside to the Rockler Corner Key is that it’s only suitable for smaller decorative projects and is not well suited to general purpose joints. It also does not come with any clamps, so you’ll need to purchase those separately.
8. HF tools Doweling Jig Tool
The HF tools Doweling Jig Tool is the last model of dowel jig on our list to review, and it’s suitable for making holes for 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2-inch dowels. It includes 5 metal bushings and works with wood up to 2 inches thick.
Unfortunately, we did not find the HF suitable for our workshop. Each bushing was too small and would grab the drill bit preventing it from drilling into the project. If you have the tools in your workshop, you may be able to bore them out slightly so you can use this jig, but it seems like a lot of work for the few dollars saved. It doesn’t self-center either, and it’s hard to align the holes, so you will also need to try to calibrate it or use wedges.
In this section we’ll take a look at some things you should consider before purchasing a dowel jig.
When Do I Use a Dowel Jig?
You use a dowel jig when you need to join two boards together using dowels. The dowel ensures that the hole you drill to hold the dowel is at the correct position and depth. The housing keeps the drill bit straight while a stopper prevents the bit from going too deep. Guides also help you drill the matching hole so the two boards can join.
Trying to drill these holes without the dowel jig’s help would likely lead to an angled dowel and a misaligned and compromised joint.
Metal bushings are the part of the tool your drill bit passes through to contact the wood. These bushings are hardened steel to resist wear from being in contact with the drill bit. Different size bushings will allow you to create holes suitable for different sized dowels. Most of the brands on our list allow for at least three different dowel sizes, with the 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8-inch size being the most popular. However, you can find dowel jigs that allow you to accommodate a wide range of dowels to suit any project.
Maximum Material Size
The maximum size of the material your jig can accept is the next thing you want to consider before making a purchase. Most of the jigs on our list can accept material between 1/2 and 1 1/2 inches thick, which should be more than enough for joining most boards in the home workshop. However, like pushing size, you can find tools that will accept smaller and larger pieces of wood if you need it for your project.
Most dowel jigs are self-centering and automatically use posts or legs that protrude from the bottom to line up the device. While most of them are fairly accurate, if you are a perfectionist, you may find some of these tools are slightly off-center when you create the hole. Many of the jigs on our list allow you to calibrate them if you find they are not centered correctly.
While the tool needs to center itself correctly, it must also allow you to create a hole in the second board that lines up with the first, so the two can join correctly. Some jigs make lining up the board easier than others, and we tried to mention any tools that were difficult to use in our reviews.
While the bushing material is the most vital, the housing material is also important in terms of weight and durability. Most of the dowel jigs on our list are aluminum; however, some use other materials like plastic or steel.
There are two varieties of the drill stop. The first type looks like a bolt and slides over the drill bit and fastens with a screw. This second type screws into the top of the dowel jig, and you can adjust in-depth by how far you screw it in.
There are several joints that you can use any dowel jig to help create, and if you are new to woodworking, a proper set of instructions explaining these joints is an essential part of your purchase. Most of the tools on our list include some simple instructions, and we tried to point out those with detailed information.
Choosing Dowel Size
Using your Dowel Jig
When choosing your next dowel jig, you can’t go wrong with our choice for the best overall. The Wolfcraft 3751405 Pro Doweling Jig Kit allows you to drill to the most popular dowel sizes. It has a durable aluminum body, comes with 2 clamps to help keep your project in place, and includes 60 dowel pens for you to get started immediately.
Another smart choice is our best value. The Milescraft 1319 Handheld Dowel Jig is like our top pick in many ways but decreases costs by using a plastic housing material. It worked perfectly for us, though, and we think it would make a great addition to any woodshop.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over these reviews and learn something new from our buyer’s guide. If we have helped you find your next tool, please share this guide to the best dowel jigs on Facebook and Twitter.
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 8 Best Dowel Jigs – Reviews 2021
- 2.1 1. Wolfcraft 3751405 Pro Doweling Jig Kit – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Milescraft 1319 Handheld Dowel Jig – Best Value
- 2.3 3. Eagle America Self-Centering Dowel Jig – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig
- 2.5 5. Milescraft 1311 Doweling Jig
- 2.6 6. AUTOTOOLHOME Self Centering Doweling Jig
- 2.7 7. Rockler Corner Key Doweling Jig
- 2.8 8. HF tools Doweling Jig Tool
- 3 Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Conclusion