How to Fasten Wood With Dowels. Dowels are a great way to fasten wood to give it more stability than just using screws. Dowels are small, cylindrical pieces of wood that fit into holes at a joint of two larger pieces of wood. Using dowels to fasten wood works well in making shelves, cabinets and small wooden furniture.
Things You'll Need
Buy a few dowels at the local hardware store. Either buy long dowels to cut to size or buy precut dowels. The advantage to buying precut dowels is that they will be even, chamfered and will have slots cut to allow wood glue to escape. Dowels are usually 1/4 inch, 5/16 inch, 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch.
Drill holes for the dowel into one of the pieces of wood you want to join. Use at least two dowels at each joint. Use a drill bit that is the same diameter as your dowel and drill slightly deeper than half of the length of the dowel. The added depth will allow a place for the wood glue. Use masking tape to mark on your drill bit the necessary depth.
Mark the other piece of wood where you need to drill for the other dowel holes. Buy dowel centers at the hardware store that will make this easier. Dowel centers are small pieces of metal that fit into a dowel hole and have a point on the end. Press the other piece of wood against the piece with the dowel centers to make indentations that will show you where the center of the dowel should be and where you should drill.
Cut the holes into the second piece of wood. Be sure to leave a little room for glue in the hole. Use the same mark that you used on the drill bit for the first piece.
Insert the dowels and make sure that the holes line up and that the joint is flush before you apply glue to secure the joint. Cut a little off the dowels or drill the holes slightly deeper if you need to at this point.
Remove the dowels, apply glue into the dowel holes on one piece of wood and reinsert the dowels. Use a rubber mallet to make sure the dowel is all the way in. Apply wood glue in dowel holes on the other piece of wood and connect it to the first piece with the dowels. Use the mallet again to make sure the joint is secure.
Clean up any glue that leaked out and let the join dry before continuing work.
Use dowels as well as screws to reinforce a joint further.