Introduction: Drill a Hole Lengthwise Through a Dowel

Picture of Drill a Hole Lengthwise Through a Dowel

I am working on a project that requires that a through-hole be drilled lengthwise through a dowel. (The resulting tube will be used as a cam collar for a wooden camshaft I'm making.)

I had to make several of these, and the techniques that I found online didn't work well for me. Here's my Instructable that shows what did work for me, in three easy steps.

Step 1: Build a Jig

Picture of Build a Jig

Take a piece of scrap board, and a few inches from one end drill a hole the size of your dowel. (3/4" in my case.) Use a drill press if available, to ensure the hole is drilled perpendicular to the board.

Saw a slot about 1/4" wide from one end of the board up to the hole. (I used a table saw to do so.)

Step 2: Insert Dowel in Jig

Picture of Insert Dowel in Jig

Mark the center-point of your dowel. (There are some good Instructables that show how to find the center-point of a dowel.) Use a punch to indent that center-point; this'll help guide the drill bit in the next step.

Insert the dowel into the jig. It will be a bit loose, so tap in some shims to tighten up the fit.

Step 3: Drill a Through-hole

Picture of Drill a Through-hole

Put the jig on top of a piece of scrap wood and clamp it to your drill press table, lining up the dowel's centerpoint with your bit. I'm using a 25/64ths bit, because I want the opening in the dowel to accept a 3/8" dowel snugly but loose enough for the dowel to rotate.

Now use another clamp to squeeze the jig's "jaws" -- the arms on either side of the slot. This serves to grip the dowel hard in the jig, so that it doesn't spin once you start drilling.

Drill the hole. The jig holds the dowel at 90 degrees, and keeps it from spinning.

You'll end up with a nicely centered hole through the length of the dowel. This works well for bushings, stop collars, and cam collars for animated or moving toys, and any other instance where you want a precise wooden "tube."


Wefneck (author)2015-04-15

I have to do this all the time for different projects, thank you this will be super useful.

hchute (author)Wefneck2015-04-15

You're welcome! Thank you for the comment.

SiliconFarmer (author)2017-11-04

Check option 5 in this Instructable: This is how I was taught to do it. This technique gives you the hole in the center pretty easily.

mrmetallica (author)2016-02-20

i need to do this but about 24" long.would this work for that lenght .ideas welcome.

good idea by the way.

twighahn (author)mrmetallica2016-09-19

how would one drill a hole through a longer dowel?

KimberlyS27 made it! (author)2015-10-13

Thank you for this jig! I make drop spindles for spinning wool into yarn and trying to drill 8" and 10" lengths of 1/4" dowels by hand was resulting in a lot of wasted dowel pieces. The bit on the handheld drill would constantly drift in the direction of the "spongier" grain of wood, thus putting my hole off center, ruining half of everything I attempted to drill. I wanted to figure out a jig on my own, but didn't know where to start as I'm a few rungs beneath an amateur wood worker. Now, as you can see, nearly every single piece was a success! Thank you!

WoodieWannabe (author)2015-09-30

Good idea. I've got a similar, but "longer" problem - I need to drill a 20mm hole lengthwise through a 1200mm dowel (that's a roughly 3/4" hole through a 47" dowel, I think, for the non-metric people here). I'm planning to make a hollow spiral shaft for a standing lamp - the dowel already has a smallish "pilot hole" which I formed when I glued up the shaft from 4 pieces of timber (and turned round on the lathe). Any tips and ideas, ladies and gentlemen?

cybergod (author)2015-04-16

I would have thought it easier to drill the inner hole, fill with plaster (soft and easy to remove later), then once set, use a hole saw for the outer diameter. Finally, drill out and scrape the plaster. Just my thoughts.

hchute (author)cybergod2015-04-16

I'm not sure -- it might be worth a try. I find that hole saws are a real pain for smaller discs, like the 3/4" diameter dowel show here. In my experience I often have to destroy the cut-out just to get it removed from the hole saw. So I think I prefer to start with a dowel of the desired size, and then cut the inner hole out of the dowel.

1710hammer (author)2015-04-15

Excellent. Wish I had the shop for this and projects that needed it!

hchute (author)1710hammer2015-04-16

Thank you! I was pleased that I was able to pick up that benchtop drill press for less than $200. It's been invaluable.

cmehan (author)2015-04-15


I'd like to see the camshaft when completed.

hchute (author)cmehan2015-04-15

Thanks! I'll post the camshaft soon, maybe as another Instructable. It's part of an "automata" moving display -- you turn a crank handle, and a bunch of cams make a series of figures move on a little stage, with different actions.

tomatoskins (author)2015-04-15

That's a handy looking jig!

hchute (author)tomatoskins2015-04-15

Thank you!

EvolvedAwesome (author)2015-04-15

Good idea

hchute (author)EvolvedAwesome2015-04-15


WildOne1985 (author)2015-04-14

Minor misspelling in the instructable title.

hchute (author)WildOne19852015-04-15

Whoops -- thank you! Fixed it.

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