Woodworking Jigs

Using woodworking jigs to do the following:

  1. Drill a hole through the long end of a dowel.

More woodworking jigs

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A large part of the fun you can have in making things with wood is making your own tools and jigs.

Some jigs are for a specific purpose, others can be put to more general use.

In my humble opinion, the workbench is one of those universal woodworking jigs.

Here is a link to Jim Barry's listing of workbenches and jigs.

Drill a hole through a dowel

I saw a video online about how to drill a hole through a dowel.

Clamp the drill upside down in the vice, and the dowel mounted in the drill chuck.

To align the drill in the vice, first insert it upside dowel in the chuck, then clamp it in the vice. Release the drill and insert the dowel.

The hole is drilled by spinning the dowel, similar in principle to a lathe.

Sounds simple enough, and it is. 

But what if the dowel is too big to fit into the drill?

Make a simple Clamping Jig

Sometimes not having a particular tool can lead to making something that is even more useful.

I needed a way to hold a 19mm diameter dowel, about 50mm long, in order to drill a hole through the long end.

I don't have a vice, so I had to make a simple clamping jig by drilling a hole into a block of wood.

woodworking  jigs tips and tricksJig to hold dowel.

This is how I did it. First you will need a bit of scrap two by four, which in this case measures about 38mm thick and about 75mm wide. Length does not really matter as long as it is long enough.

Drill a hole neat one end to the same diameter as the dowel. I used a spade bit, but I think a Forstner bit would have been better for reasons that will become clear later. 

The dowel should be a snug fit, but I also wanted to make sure it could be clamped, so I made a saw cut through the centre of the hole, and drilled another hole for the bolt that you can see in the photo.

Why the second hole? To give the saw cut a bit more flexibility when bolt is tightened to clamp the dowel.

This was the original intention – to drill the hole for the clamping bolt and the second hole to make it more flexible. Make the saw cut, clamp the piece in position, drill the hole with the spade bit, or Forstner bit if you have one.

Leaving the piece clamped in place, insert the dowel and clamp it with the bolt. Be careful not to move anything.

Remove the spade bit and insert the next drill bit. A brad point works better for drilling holes in wood, but I don’t think you can get them smaller than 6mm.

Here’s a few examples of what I made using different types of drill.

Starting from the left, that was a more common 10mm metalworking drill bit, as you can see it’s not quite in the middle.

Next is a brad drill bit, could be a little better with a proper drill press.

On the right is a 12mm spade bit.

These pieces are about 50mm long, just to see how it works.

A few thing I learned along the way:

With a proper drill press, I’m sure it would be possible to drill through longer pieces of dowel by drilling through one side then the other.

Forstner bit would be better because it would be more accurate to align the clamping jig.

Another tip is to mark the centre of the dowel with an indentation made by a centre punch.

How to find the centre of a dowel

To be more accurate, I would need a drill press.

All I have at this stage is a drill guide made by Wolfcraft, with a small modification to accept my  trusty Hitachi drill.

Share Your Woodworking Tip

Do you have any tips and techniques that you would like to share?