Dowelling is an important aspect in conducting any millwork operation. Dowels are basically lag threaded studs which are used in fastening of two pieces of wood. This helps in keeping the wood in the same position. Unlike the normal studs, these have wooden screw threads at both the ends. Dowels are used in flooring, creating joints, furniture, attaching balusters to stairs and so on. Due to lack of a proper head a driver is needed to install a dowel.
As the dowel screws lack a head and with the need of a driver the installation becomes a tedious process. The screws are needed to be installed meticulously otherwise the overall impact of the furniture or the flooring may go into vain. With the popular trend of DIY people are now-a-days more inclined towards working things on their own than relying on others. Lots of videos and tutorials are available in teaching the installation but it is not everyone’s piece of cake. As the screws are required to be aligned properly into the holes so that the log does not move. When performed with proper care and precautions dowelling can be conducted easily. These are the few points you should remember before actually going on the task:
How To Use Dowel Screws
Size of the dowel screw
The dowel screws are available in various sizes. The perfect size matters as it will eventually decide the fate of your work. A smaller screw will not be able to hold the log or joints in place while a larger one will not fit. One size is not suitable for every action. What you can do is purchase various sizes of the screws ( if you are active in woodworking ) and check which suits you the best. Generally, the screw should not be more than half the width of the log. The shape of dowel is another issue along with size. A broader dowel is likely to break the board while a slimmer dowel will not hold the joints altogether. The best way is to check via trial and error. Select a dowel of specific shape and size which you think will work for you and check. It’s better to invest some time on preparation rather than ruining the work.
Do not fall for exotic dowels
As with the increasing demand from do-it-yourselfer’s the market is on high demand. Various shapes and sizes of dowel screws are available which are sold with such strategy as to entice the consumer. It may sound as perfect for you but can be heavy on your pocket. Always go for conventional dowels and the ones that are easily available. Perfection is the only key which matters in millwork. Hone your perfection rather than falling for the traps. Birch dowels are the classic kind of dowels which have been in practice since ages. A birch dowel of size 1 to 1.5 inches is sufficient for most of your woodworking. If you have an experience with woodworking than you can even go for plastic dowels otherwise birch dowels are the best choice for beginners.
Type of drill
Now, you have found the right dowel for you. You are sure of the outcome but it does not depend completely on the dowel screw. The other big thing to keep in mind is the drill. Just like screws there are numerous of drills in the market with both broader and narrow ends. The best option for you is to go for a narrow drill. Working with a narrow drill is easy because it provides a space to the dowel for keeping the wood in place. This allows a proper tightening of dowel and wood.
So, finally you are ready to go with your workshop kit. The preparation is over and you are all set to hit the road. The next step to this preparation is learning how to actually use a dowel screw. There is indeed no rocket science behind it and you do not need to fret at all. Here is a step-by-step installation guide for you to learn dowelling easily:
Steps To Use Dowel Screws
The foremost thing to do is certainly the measurement. You should measure each and every minute detail before going for it. Perfection can only be achieved by giving time to details. Most of the people attempt the mistake of not going on the details and measuring superficially. The best thing to do is carry a notebook and pencil with you while working. Draw a rough sketch of your work and write the measurements along with it. This will ensure that you measure everything and there is little or no risk of misjudgment.
Now, you have drawn a sketch and ready for measuring the logwood but how to actually do it? First of all, find the center of the logwood and mark it with the help of ink. If you are joining two pieces of wood then find the center of another wood as well and mark it. Measure the lengths with the help of a scale or a measuring meter and write it down in your notebook. Make sure that your marks on the wood are straight and not curved at any point. Double check everything with the help of a scale. Adjust the degree angles of the wood and join them.
Drill along the measurements
And so, you are done with the measurements and marking on the wood. The next thing to do is drilling which the core of dowelling. As mentioned earlier, you should always go for a narrow drill. A narrow drill will give you some space as well as easy to use at the same time. Drilling becomes somewhat easy with the help of inked measurements. Now, you just have to follow the marks with the help of drill.
First of all ensure that the logwood is steady and not moving. Make sure that your workstation is clear because it will eventually turn messy with the drilling. Place the logwood properly on the workstation and keep it steady with the help your one hand. Second, is to choose the right speed of the drill. Do not work in haste and opt for a high speed. Always go slow. Drill the holes in the wood by just inserting the tip of the dowel into it. Keep the speed slow and insert carefully. Do not move your other hand out of the vibrations otherwise, it will hinder the alignment of the wood.
You just have to meticulously place the drill on the marks, keep the speed slow and just insert the tip of the dowel. The dowel will work by itself and latch the wood accordingly.
Align the holes of the wood
The drilling part is now done and your wood is ready to be finally joined. The next thing to do is align the holes of the wood. Place the wood above each other by aligning the holes or according to your design. The key is to ensure steadiness while working. Keep the first wood steady with the help of a hand and tighten the dowel around it. Make sure that you do not move the second wood while tightening. You can take help of someone in case you find it difficult working on your own. Align the doweling jigs by matching the holes.
Glue the dowel screws
The dowel screws do not usually fall off if tightened properly. However, do not take this risk and purchase a good wood glue beforehand. Dust and clean your workstation properly. Clean the mess caused by the drilling on the logwood. Make sure that everything is clean before gluing the screws. Take some ample amount of the glue and spread it on the edges of the joints in each log. You can use a woodworking clamp to keep the logs in place if necessary. Wipe out the extra glue immediately with the help of a cotton cloth and allow it to dry. Usually, the wood glue takes few hours to dry. Leave it undisturbed for few hours.
Touch it up
Gluing is as important as drilling and make sure you do not spill even a drop of it in the hole. Spreading the glue in the holes leads to permanent fixing of the screw. You may need to unscrew the joints in future and keep this in mind before finally gluing the screws. Now, the glue has finally dried and your work is almost done. The next thing to do is giving a final touch up to your work. You can make use of paint, stain or polishes for the same. Spread the paint evenly on the surfaces and let it dry.
And here you are, ready with your masterpiece.