How Many Dowels Per Joint?(Answered)

Working with woods can be difficult especially when joining them. The joint needs to be strong to hold each board together. However, the most concerning factor is regarding the number of dowels to use per joint.

And today we’re going to answer your question! How many dowels per joint?

After alignment of the two boards, you will need to add two dowels at least per joint. This is to make the bond but you will need more dowels if the joint is wide. The placement of the dowels is important. So make sure the dowels are kept at a distance that makes the joint strong.

If you’re still struggling to know how many dowels you should use and how it’s okay! We’ve discussed the details in our article.

Let’s put the handyman hat on and spill the beans!

How Many Dowels to Use Per Joint?

For every joint, you’ll require at least two dowels, maybe more if the joint is exceptionally broad.

If the boards are less than 6 inches wide, one dowel should be placed 1/4 of the way throughout the joint, and a second one should be placed 1/4 of the breadth in from another side.

The rule is to use one dowel for each two inches of cake.  A 16-inch or 18-inch cake, for example, will need about 8 dowels, whereas a 10-inch cake would take at least 6 dowels.

Because plastic dowels are bigger than wooden dowels, you could use less of them in your building.

How Strong Is a Dowel Joint?

Dowel joint strength can be tested in a board of solid thick wood. An apparatus was brought which will apply pressure on the wood, and the pressure gauge will show the readings.

Thick melamine-coated particles are used for the sheet good test. Along with the dowel joint, the test was performed on the biscuit joint for comparison.

A sheet good test was done on 5 inches wide samples. The sample of woods had both biscuit and dowel joints. Glue was applied to both joints.

Both the joints were clamped for 24 hours and they were glued to Titebond 1. The test is designed to show how much weight each joint can take before failing.

Both the solid woods failed in a similar fashion but the dowel joint in solid wood came out strong. The Dowel joint failed at 650 pounds pressure whereas the Biscuit joint failed at 350 pounds.

How to Use Dowel Joinery?

how many dowels per joint

For a strong durable woodworking joint dowels are used by putting them in holes. They are stuck with glue and the holes are perfectly placed on the board. 

Dowels are round-shaped objects which are cut and made from woods. To fit them in holes and use them as joints we have prepared a step-by-step guide. The 3 three easy steps are given below.

Step 1: Drill the Holes

For the doweling process to happen, first align the boards which are going to be joined. Make sure these are aligned in their final positions.

Each joint will require a minimum of two dowels or more for a strong bond. If the joint is wide for the boards then use more than two dowels.

By the way, here are our recommendations on the good quality dowel, check these out-

Now, make the holes. Holes should be done  ¼  distance edge-to-edge on both sides of the board if the board is 6 inches wide.

Hence, the dowels will be placed 11/2 inches from both corners of the edge. Add one joint if the gap between both the dowels is 4 inches or more.

So practically, you will mark the whole area with a pencil on both boards. Separate the boards and align each with the doweling jig to drill holes on the boards. 

Use a quality doweling jig for this job. In case you need one, here are our recommendations-

Step 2: Align the Holes

Before you drill on the second board, position the doweling centers into the holes drilled. Then align the second board and press it on the doweling centers.

As a result, it will create a perfect position for the holes to be drilled on the second board. Separate the boards and mark the areas of the holes on the second board.

 With the help of a doweling jig, drill holes precisely after you align the jig with drill areas.

Step 3: Install the Dowels 

When you are done drilling the holes, remove the doweling jig and the doweling centers from the first board. Handle the doweling jig carefully so that you do not injure yourself.

Put glue inside the holes of the first board. The amount of glue used should be less because too much glue may affect the positioning of dowels.

Before you apply glue on the second board, clean the excess glue on the first board. After carefully applying glue on the second board, position both the boards and push the dowels inside.

Here are our top choices of glues for this job. Check these out-

You’ll certainly be satisfied with their longevity and performance.

There you have it! A strong tight joint. Use a woodworking clamp to tighten the joint and wait at least 24 hours for the glue to be dried out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Do dowels add strength?

Answer: Strength is increased substantially when you use dowels. Try joining two pieces of wood sideways, and make sure the joint is done properly. You will see that the dowels increase the strength of the wood before the wood fails.

Question: Which are stronger, screws or dowels?

Answer: Dowels are stronger than screws. This is because the glue penetrates the wood surface and adds more strength to the holding power of the dowels.

Question: When should you not use dowels?

Answer: Dowels longer than 11/2 inches are not recommended to be used on edge joints. If the wood dries then the dowels might just open their way out of the joint. 


We hope you have developed a perception of how many dowels per joint are needed. We tried to be as comprehensive as possible.

Let us know if you were able to use it properly. Until then, take care!

Kevin Smith

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