Best Dowel Jig Selections – Top Models For 2018 Reviewed & Compared

In woodworking, it’s imperative that you have all of the right tools for the job. For example, if you want to join two pieces of wood together on the same plane, it’s best to use dowels rather than screws or nails. However, how can you be sure that you’re getting your dowels inserted at the right angle without risking the integrity of the wood itself?

That’s where a dowel jig comes in.

These pieces are highly specialized for this kind of thing, which means that they are incredibly reliable. No matter what type of wood you’re joining or what purpose it will serve, having the right dowel jig can make a huge difference.

Today we’re checking out the top models you can find. Let’s see what they have to offer. 

Best Dowel Jigs comparisons 

9 Best Dowel Jigs - Reviews

1. Eagle America 445-7600 Professional Jig

Although dowel jigs are built for a single purpose, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few key components to consider when picking out the right model. Drilling and inserting dowels is not something that you can do without the proper equipment, so it’s imperative that you take the time to find the right jig to get the job done well.

In this case, we have the Eagle America Professional Dowel Jig. This particular model is designed to accommodate larger pieces, making it a formidable asset for any woodworker. Some jigs are built for thin slats of wood, but this one can handle both. According to the specs, it can go as small as 1/4 inches and go as high as six inches.

What’s nice about this jig is that it’s self-centering. The shape and position of the pieces help ensure that you don’t have to make a lot of adjustments when you’re getting started, so you can work faster and more efficiently.

The other thing that we appreciate about this dowel jig is the construction. It has hardened steel guides and anodized aluminum bushings, making it a reliable piece for any set of tools. You can use this jig for years to come and not have any problems with it. These metals are also rust and corrosion-resistant, making them even better for both professional and casual woodworkers.

What we liked

  • Durable hardened steel guides
  • Anodized aluminum components
  • Self-centering design for easier use
  • Thickness range between 1/4
  • and six inches
  • Ideal for miter, butt, and edge joints
  • Works as a mortising guide as well
  • Two guide holes for convenience
  • Can drill three hole sizes with one clamping
  • Includes two bushings each

What we didn't like

  • Challenging to make multiple holes of the same size with only two guides
  • In rare cases, the unit may not be centered correctly

2. Milescraft 13110003 Joint Pro Doweling Jig

When picking out the best dowel jig for the job, there are usually two problems that you can encounter along the way. First, many of them only allow you to drill one hole of each size. Even though there are multiple widths offered by the unit, there’s only one of each, meaning that you have to move the jig every time.

The other issue that you can have is that you can only work on one piece of wood at the same time. This can present a challenge because you have to make sure that the settings are precise on both joints so that the dowel will insert correctly. If they’re mismatched, you have to start over with a new piece of wood.

Fortunately, this jig from Milescraft is designed to correct both of these issues. While it’s not the perfect unit overall, it does make drilling more efficient, which is really great.

The way that this jig is set up, you can drill up to three holes of the same size without having to reposition it each time. This is because the different widths are laid out in rows, rather than in a line. Simply move the clamp to the row that you want, and you’re good to go. This does mean that it’s not self-centering, but that issue can be remedied relatively easily.

The other benefit of this model is that you can clamp two pieces of wood at once. Thus, you can drill each part at the same time and ensure that the holes will match up precisely. Overall, doing it this way will save you a ton of time and unnecessary headaches when creating your joints. 

What we liked

  • Durable steel construction
  • Two pieces allow you to work on two boards
  • Drill up to six holes at once
  • Offers ¼, 5/16, and ⅜ inch holes
  • Produces corner, edge, and surface joints
  • Can be secured to a bench top for better reliability

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, the metal may be a little jagged
  • Clamps can get off center over time

3. Woodstock D4116 Doweling Jig

As we continue to look through these various dowel jigs, it’s critical to keep paying attention to the various components and features you can choose along the way. This model from Woodstock is designed to be more compact and efficient than most other jigs, making it a viable option for woodworkers who don’t want to store bulky equipment.

As we mentioned above, one of the issues you face with some jigs is that you can only drill one hole of each size at a time. Fortunately, this Woodstock Jig corrects that issue by offering six bushings so that you can drill two holes in the same piece of wood without having to shift anything.

The other cool thing about this compact unit is that it’s also self-centering. This feature is critical because it helps ensure that you can match the holes on two pieces of wood. If it didn’t center, you would risk misalignment. Also, centering means that you have less of a chance of ruining the integrity of the piece by getting too close to the sides.

This jig offers five hole widths, and it can accept wood blocks up to two inches thick. We appreciate that it also works with round or square pieces, which enables you to do more with one single device. Although we wish that it could work on thicker wood parts, it’s perfect for framing.

What we liked

  • Durable steel and aluminum components
  • Holds wood up to two inches thick
  • Six hardened steel bushings provided
  • Five hole sizes available
  • Self-centering model
  • Drill two holes without moving the jig

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, the holes may be misaligned
  • Pieces may get stuck and have to be lubricated

4. Grizzly G1874 Improved Dowel Jig

When it comes to woodworking equipment, you want to find a brand that delivers quality and reliability. Grizzly is one of the more well-known companies out there, and they offer some of the finest parts and gear available.

In this case, we have another compact and lightweight dowel jig. This model is actually really close to the Woodstock unit, although the reliability of this piece is much better overall. Because it’s Grizzly, you know that you can trust it to work.

When looking at the technical specs, this jig is perfectly suited for frames and other thin woodworking projects. This is because the unit can only accept pieces up to two inches thick. However, what makes it more versatile is the fact that it can work on round, square, or irregular parts equally well, so don’t assume that you have to be using the best pieces each time.

As with the Woodstock Jig, you can drill two of the same hole at once. We really like the quality of the bushings, and the convenience of this feature helps you work more efficiently overall. And, because it’s self-centering, you can align each piece of wood quickly and not have to worry about the parts fitting together.

There are five hole sizes available, and the jig works well for all kinds of joints - butt, miter, and edge. 

What we liked

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Stainless steel and aluminum components
  • Self-centering design for convenience
  • Five hole sizes available
  • Handles stock up to two inches thick
  • Six hardened steel bushings included
  • Allows you to drill two holes of the same size

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, the unit may not center itself precisely

5. WALFRONT Self Centering Dowelling Jig

If you really like the idea of having a portable and lightweight dowel jig, then you will want something like this model from Walfront. Even compared to other compact designs like the Grizzly, this is one of the lightest and easiest to use pieces you can find.

Because of its size, you can work on a wide variety of joints. Whether you’re trying to do a butt joint (two flat ends at 90 degrees), a miter joint (two angled ends at 90 degrees), or an edge joint (two pieces on the same plane), it’s easy to do with this jig.

The only significant issue that we have with this model is that it doesn’t have extra large clamps. Unlike the Woodstock or Grizzly units, the width of the sides is a lot smaller than you might think, so you may have to use a vice or separate clamp to keep it in place.

One of the best things about this dowel jig is that it comes with nine different bushings. They are broken down into three sets of three sizes each, meaning that you can drill up to three holes at once without moving the jig. As we mentioned, some lower-quality models only offer one hole, so this is an incredible upgrade.

The construction of this jig is also excellent. It uses hardened steel for the bushings, and it has anodized aluminum for the gear itself. It also has a coating that helps prevent rust and corrosion, ensuring that you can use this jig for a long time. 

What we liked

  • Anodized aluminum components
  • Nine hardened steel bushings
  • Wear-resistant materials
  • Corrosion and rust-resistant coating
  • Compact and ultra-lightweight design
  • Works on pieces between 5/8 and two inches
  • Self-centering model is more convenient
  • Drill up to three holes at once

What we didn't like

  • The clamp is not as secure as other models
  • Sizes are in millimeters, so conversion is necessary

6. Jessem Model 08350 Dowelling Jig

This next jig is an all-inclusive model, meaning that it comes with almost everything but the dowels and drill. Otherwise, you’re pretty much ready to go as soon as you get this piece, making it a viable option for many woodworkers and carpenters.

Drilling multiple holes at once is not an issue with this jig. You get three sets of bushings to allow you to drill ¼, ⅜, and ½-inch holes. What makes this unit even better is that you can adjust the placement of these holes in ⅛-inch increments, making this one of the better options out there.

We like the size and weight of this jig. It’s hefty, and it’s solidly built, meaning that you can get a lot of mileage out of it. Also, the guides are laser-engraved, so you don’t have to worry about numbers getting rubbed off over time.

To make this dowel jig a complete starter set, it also comes with drill bits for each hole size. Although we can’t speak to the durability of these bits (you may prefer higher-quality options), it’s nice that they’re available should you need them. 

What we liked

  • Durable CNC machined aluminum
  • Makes ¼, ⅜, and ½ inch holes
  • Three sets allow you to drill multiple holes at once
  • Built-in alignment slot
  • Drill bits included for convenience
  • Adjust dowel placement in ⅛ inch increments
  • Drill guide engraved on the piece

What we didn't like

  • Alignment can be tricky
  • Drill bits are not as high quality

7. Rockler Dowl-it 1000 Self-centering Doweling Jig

Rockler Dowl-it 1000 Self-centering

Like Grizzly, Rockler is another woodworking brand that is synonymous with high-quality parts and materials. Also, like Grizzly, we are looking at a compact dowel jig that fits over the edge of a wooden piece. This one is similar to the models that we’ve already seen, but it has one critical difference.

So far, all of the dowel jigs on this list have had bushings that insert into the holes. The purpose of bushings is to allow you to drill multiple holes at the same time without having to move the jig. However, in this case, there aren’t any, so you can only drill one at a time.

That being said, this is still a heavy-duty dowel jig that will last for years without any problems. The steel and aluminum components are resistant to rust and corrosion, and the self-centering design makes it easy to work on a variety of pieces. You can use wood up to two inches thick, and the vice grip is strong and reliable. 

What we liked

  • Compact and lightweight model
  • Self-centering design
  • Six drill hole sizes available
  • Durable solid steel construction
  • Plated clamps prevent rust and corrosion
  • Works on round or square stock
  • Accepts pieces up to two inches wide

What we didn't like

  • No bushings provided
  • Can only drill one hole of each size

8. Rockler Complete Doweling Kit

If you like the Dowl-It, but you want some extra add-ons, then you will want to get the complete kit from Rockler. The jig itself is the same design as the 1000 model, but you get some extras that can make your life a lot easier.

First of all, there are two dowel centers to make sure that you mark your holes correctly. These components help overcome the fact that this jig doesn’t have any bushings, so you can work faster and more precisely.

Second, it comes with glue to hold your dowels in place. This glue is ultra strong and reliable. Finally, this kit comes with a collection of dowels to help you get started. As far as complete kits go, this one is great because you can begin joining pieces immediately - all you need is a drill.

What we liked

  • Compact design
  • Six drill hole sizes available
  • Durable steel and aluminum construction
  • Self-centering design
  • Rust and corrosion resistant materials
  • Works on pieces up to two inches thick

What we didn't like

  • Heavier than other models
  • No bushings provided

9. SINOCMP Universal Doweling Jig

Our final model is another dual-action jig, meaning that you can work on two pieces of wood at the same time. Overall, we really like this kind of unit because it can help you work more efficiently. As long as you can center your cuts (i.e., if you have a dowel center), then you shouldn’t run into any problems.

What’s really great about this kind of dowel jig is that you can do a lot more with it. Most of the models we’ve seen attach to the end of the wood, which means that you can only use them for L-shaped or edge joints. While these are going to be the most common for dowel work, it helps to have more option. Because the clamps here can go higher than two inches, you can make T-joints as well. If you’re a professional woodworker, then you will get a lot of mileage out of this jig.

The other excellent feature is the fact that you can drill up to three holes at once, making it much faster than other units. Just move the wood to the size you want and drill away. This kit also comes with depth stop collars so that you can make sure you’re not going too deep in the wood and cracking it from the inside.

Overall, you will love working with this dowel jig, as long as you have a means of centering your holes. Also, you may need to use brace pieces to avoid damaging the final product, so keep that in mind. 

What we liked

  • Durable, lightweight aluminum construction
  • Hold two pieces of wood at once
  • Drill up to three holes as needed
  • Works with a wider range of wood thicknesses
  • Set of dowel pins provided
  • Depth stop collars included to prevent over drilling
  • Three aligning clamps for convenience and versatility
  • Works for edge, T-shaped, and
  • L-shaped joints

What we didn't like

  • Vice grips may damage wood when held too tightly
  • Not self-centering

This great video created by - paulsmessyworkshop

Final Verdict 

As we’ve seen, dowel jigs come in all shapes and sizes. However, if you’re looking for the best model for your needs, it’s imperative that you get the right dimensions and features to keep everything working smoothly.

When it comes to compact jigs, we like the models from Grizzly and Woodstock. These units are similarly built, and they are perfect for fast and efficient operation. You can use them for frames or other thin wood pieces, and they will continue to work well for a lifetime.

If you need something a bit heftier and larger than that, we really like the Universal Doweling Set from SINOCMP. This set offers everything you need and more to get started, and the fact that you can work on multiple pieces of wood simultaneously means that you will be able to work faster overall.

The construction of these jigs is impeccable, and they will offer reliability for years to come. 

Sean J. Stone
 

Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

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