Simple Dowel Maker Jig




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This is a quick and simple build - but it works great, is very functional and easy to adapt.

This is not my original idea. I have seen many variations around, but I have never seen anyone built with a washer before. Most other jigs/dowel makers use a steel bar of somekind.

I made this because I was in need of some dowels for another project, and I put this togheter for that purpose. it worked better than I expected.

This takes less than an hour to make.

I used the following parts and tools.


  • Block of wood (2x4) around 20 cm long or so.
  • Washers (construction washers used for framing or deck construction). Get the square ones if possible. I used a 9 mm washer in this instructable.
  • Wood screws.
  • Wood to make dowels from (with straight grain and no knots)
  • Some wood screws.


  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Bandsaw
  • Block plane
  • Knife
  • Pen
  • Drill (with at least 13 mm chuck).
  • Sanding paper
  • 3 mm drill bit (HSS for steel)
  • 10 mm drill bit (HSS for steel)

Thank you for reading this instructable! Feel free to ask me anything, and I will answer as soon as I can.

Please consider to follow me here! It will fuel me to make more and better instructables like this! Thanks! :-)

There is also a small video - if you want to see the steps in motion pictues here!

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Step 1: Start With the Parts

I used a small cut off (2x4). Around 20-22 cm long. I can put several sized washers in the same block to make different sized dowel. I will add more later. For this instructable I will make a 10mm size.

Start with a smaller sized washer. The washers usually have odd sizes not to catch with your screws or bolts. So use a size 9 mm washer for making a 10 mm dowel maker jig.

Step 2: Place the Washer

Place the washer adn trace around it with a pen.

I figure there will be a lot of force with this design on the washer. The torque will come from the dowel turning inside the washer and some fibers may catch.

I made a small recess in the block with a chisel to make the washer fit inside.

Step 3: Fasten the Washer

After that, I will make a small hole (3 mm).

To stop the drill from wondering off, I make a small indent with a screw and hammer (in the washer) where I want to make the hole.

After the hole is made. I use the larger 10 mm drill bit to make a countersink in the washer. You can see it in one of the picture.

Then I secure the washer with an ordinary wood screw.

Step 4: Make It Look Sharp

Now I make the center hole of the washer the final size. I use the same 10 mm drill bit and drill trough the washer and wood.

With the same technique (making an indent) I countersink 3 holes around the center holes.

The outer edge of these holes need to overlap the center hole. This will create a very sharp edge that will grind and cut away the wood, when it is forced into the center.

If this jig gets dull. You can do a few more turns with the drill to make the edges sharp again. Or make an new washer if needed.

Step 5: Adding a Second Screw

Lastly I will add a second screw to the washer, securing it to the wooden block.

Step 6: Preparing the Stock

If you dont have a bandsaw, you can ofcourse make your stock in anyway you like. This works for me. I make the stock aroind 11 mm x 11 mm.

I use a blockplane and round over the edges. Making the stock as round as possible.

I use a knife to make one end of the stock pointy. This will make the start of the cutting go a lot easier.

Step 7: Using the Dowel Maker Jig

I clamp the jig in my vise and secure the stock in my drill (right in the chuck).

Push the pointy end into the hole. When it catch the wood, it will start cutting, scraping and scale the wood. After you get the dowel started it doesnt require as much force.

Also it depends on how much wood it needs to cut of.

Step 8: The Dowels Are Done

Cut of the ends of the dowels.

The result is very smooth and consistent. My first dowels were made of pine. A soft wood. But it worked well with oak too.

If needed, you can sand them a bit too. Just led the drill rotate them and hold the sanding paper in the other hand.

Now I need to add other sizes to the block with other sized washers, so I can make more dowels when needed. :-)

I also think this is a great way to make arrows (arrow shafts). I will try this in the future.

Here is that small video again!

Thanks for reading my instructable - please consider following me here!



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    14 Discussions

    Marcel Hebert

    11 months ago

    Hey Dekeros, great video and great idea.
    I live in Canada we also mix Imperial and Metric, Timber and Fasteners are imperial.

    1 reply
    dekerosMarcel Hebert

    Reply 11 months ago

    Hi there! Oh, I do love Canada! :-) I have never been there, but it seems like we have much in common (being both on the 60th parallel north and all)! :-) Interesting that you have both systems too there. Haha - thanks for the comment, it is very much appreciated! :-)


    Reply 11 months ago

    Hi there! Big thanks for the question! :-) I don't think this is any good adaption for making tapered dowel. Becasue this way you will have one vertical cutting edge, that is straight, making everything that passes the same size. To make a tapered dowel, one would need a tapered cutting edge, or sanding edge. I will continue to think about this, ofc :-), but I cant see this dowel maker jig with the washer being the best starting point. Sorry! Thanks again!


    11 months ago

    You don't have to be limited to the 1/2" drill chuck size. Just get an adapter that takes a socket tool (or make one). Then you can fit a socket that takes the size of dowel timber you want to use to make the dowel. By the way. Your work bench is nearly as untidy as mine!

    1 reply

    Reply 11 months ago

    Haha. Yes, it is beyond messy. I dont like it, and I will have to face it soon. :-)

    That was very clever with the socket tool/adapter! That might work quite well, and something I will have to try! Big thanks for that buddy! :-)


    11 months ago

    Nice instructable - as noted - the video shows it all. I just did a bunch of work with dowels and wish I'd seen this earlier. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 11 months ago

    And thank you for your nice words! Much appreciated! I know the feeling all to well - finding a thing or a technique just when one is done with the project. :-) Thank you again and have a great day! :-)


    11 months ago

    Interesting concept. It makes me rethink how I can design a dowel cutter to make 3/4" and 1" dowels on the ends of tree limbs/branches to build outside yard furniture. You can buy them. But they are maga-expensive. So I will redesign my idea to make my own. Thanks for the post and idea.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thank you! and great idea that you have (If I understand you correctly) you want to make the dowel jig rotate around a piece of wood right? It would be awesome, and please share with us how it goes. :-) Thanks and again!! :-)

    Kink Jarfold

    11 months ago on Step 8

    Just in time. I was wondering how I was going to make some small dowels for a project I'm contemplating. I saved this. KJ

    1 reply
    dekerosKink Jarfold

    Reply 11 months ago

    Haha. Big thanks my friend! U know I appreciate it! :-)


    11 months ago

    nice job. The only shortcoming is limitation of drill chuck size-- 1/2" mostly. It appears not to matter where exactly you place the 3 points near the hole to make the sharp cutting points since you did not provide dimensions. Your video says it all. If using 2x4 materials I figure you are in USA. If so, why all the metrics?

    1 reply

    Reply 11 months ago

    Hi there! I really appreciate you checking this out and commenting! Much appreciated! You are spot on the the the placement of the holes. It seems that they doesnt need to be placed in any exact position as long as the outer edge cross the inner circle to make sharp edges. I dont know If this would work better with four holes. I will try that in the future. :-)
    I had some questions regarding the limitations too, and it is limited to the size of the chuck. So 1/2" seems right. I dont think mounting a larger piece would work even if one made one side of the stock thinner to fit the drill chuck. The force/torque needed would not work.
    Regarding the measurement - I'm from Sweden. The thing is, we use metrics - yes. But not always in carpentry. We mostly use the term 2" by 4" and such for most timber, nails and such. This is really strange indeed. Also we gladly mix them like "I need 1,2(m) 2x2". And thats what I did in this instructable. We usually just don't say 45 mm x 95 mm. Sorry for the confusion. I really have no idea why this is, and I cannot find any good source on this matter. :-)

    Thanks again - and sorry for the long reply! It was just such good questions :-)