When it comes to working with wood, using the right size dowel for your project is something you should take seriously.
With so many different sizes and types of dowels available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
But, I’ll tell you…
If you learn how to select the right dowel size and type referencing the right size tables, you’re on the way to peace of mind when it comes to completing your projects.
In the following, you’ll get a complete rundown on everything you need when it comes to choosing the right size dowel, including how to measure dowel sizes, different types of dowels, and a comprehensive dowel size chart.
Ready to join me? (Sorry, this pun had to be done!)
What Is a Wood Dowel?
Wooden dowels are cylindrical fasteners or rods made from wood that are used in various woodworking projects.
These fasteners come in a ton of sizes and are commonly used to join pieces of wood together.
They’re especially handy in furniture construction, cabinet making, home repair DIY projects, and crafts.
You’ll find dowels as a popular choice because of their strength, simplicity, and versatility all without the need for nails or screws.
With their wide range of sizes and availability, wood dowels are an essential component in ANY project that uses wood.
You’ll encounter different wood types like maple, oak, and cherry. Each provides unique characteristics which we’ll cover further below.
Types of Wood Dowels
If you’re working on a project that involves joining or supporting wooden pieces, you’ll want to choose the right type of wood dowel to get the job done.
Let’s take a look at some common types of dowels and their features!
Plain Dowel Rods
Examples of wood dowel rods found on Amazon
Plain dowels are your basic, no-frills option. They’re typically made from hardwoods for strength and durability.
Also called doweling, this classic round dowel provides a smooth surface for woodworking projects and come in a wide range of lengths and diameters to suit a large variety of needs.
You’ll typically find these in 6 in., 12 in. 17.5 in. 36 in. and 48 in. lengths. You can then obviously cut down to the lengths you need.
This is the most popular choice for DIY home improvement and hobbyists.
Dowel pins or pegs are shorter, more precise versions of dowel rods.
They’re usually made of hardwood like birch or maple and are designed to help align and strengthen joins in wood projects.
You’ll find these often in parallel with properly sized screws. They are usually the “reinforcer” to help with overall stability.
Examples of wood dowel pins found on Amazon
A popular style of dowel pin are Fluted dowels.
These have grooves or ridges along their length, which improve glue distribution and help create a stronger joint when pushed into drilled holes.
Their design is best for heavy-duty applications, where strength is important.
These grooved ridges might be straight or spiraled, depending on the manufacturer.
This design also enhances resistance to splitting.
You’ll commonly find fluted dowels used in furniture construction and cabinet making made from either wood or plastic.
Regular sizes can range from 1/4 in., 5/16 in., and 3/8 in. for lengths and 3/8 in., 5/16 in., and 1/4 in. for diameters.
Metric dowels follow the metric system for measurements and are offered in diameters ranging from 5mm to 12mm.
These dowels are ideal for projects requiring consistency in size and are widely used in international woodworking applications.
Pre-cut dowels come in predetermined lengths for your convenience.
Standard dowel rod lengths are usually 20 cm, 30 cm, and 40 cm, though dowel pins often come in 1-inch or 1-and-a-half-inch sizes for imperial sizing.
This makes it easy to find a dowel that fits your project requirements without additional cutting or shaping.
You can find them in various wood species making them suitable for a wide range of woodworking applications.
When choosing a wood dowel, keep in mind factors like durability, strength, and resistance to splitting.
Whether you need plain dowels for basic joinery or fluted dowels for extra strength and stability, there is a type of wood dowel to fit your specific needs.
Common Wood Dowel Sizes
As I mentioned, choosing the right dowel size is crucial for ensuring the strength of your joint.
Your dowel size depends on the thickness of your joining wood.
Typically, the length should be twice the size of the drill hole, and the diameter can be half the thickness of the wood.
Here are some commonly used standard sizes for hardwood and softwood dowels:
- 1/4″ Diameter
- 5/16″ Diameter
- 3/8″ Diameter
- 7/16″ Diameter
- 1/2″ Diameter
- 5/8″ Diameter
Fluted or spiral groove dowels are available in fractional sizes between 1/4″ and 3/4″ in diameter, offering a better glue surface for stronger joints.
Wood Dowel Size Charts
This chart gives you an idea of what’s available for doweling sizes (marked with an “X”).
Lengths range from 6 in. to 48 in. with diameters going from a thin 1.8 in. to the thickest 2 in. Note the most common stock lengths are 36″ or 48″.
|Rod Length (in)||1/8″ (in)||1/4″ (in)||3/8″ (in)||1/2″ (in)||5/8″ (in)||3/4″ (in)||7/8″ (in)||1″ (in)||1 1/8″ (in)||1 1/4″ (in)||1 3/8″ (in)||1 1/2″ (in)||1 5/8″ (in)||1 3/4″ (in)||1 7/8″ (in)||2″ (in)|
This next chart shows which size dowel pin to use based on the thickness of the joining board.
Note that the drill holes are typically the same size as the dowel diameter.
|Board Thickness||Dowel Pin Length||Dowel Pin Diameter||Drilled Hole Diameter|
|1 1/8″||1 1/8″||5/8″||5/8″|
|1 1/4″||1 1/4″||3/4″||3/4″|
|Board Thickness||Dowel Pin Length||Dowel Pin Diameter||Drilled Hole Diameter|
|12.7 mm||12.7 mm||6.35 mm||6.0 mm|
|15.9 mm||15.9 mm||7.94 mm||7.5 mm|
|19.1 mm||19.1 mm||9.53 mm||9.0 mm|
|22.2 mm||22.2 mm||11.11 mm||10.5 mm|
|25.4 mm||25.4 mm||12.7 mm||12.0 mm|
|28.6 mm||28.6 mm||15.88 mm||15.0 mm|
|31.8 mm||31.8 mm||19.05 mm||18.0 mm|
Note: Metric units are not exact, so the drilled hole diameter may be slightly different from the dowel pin diameter to ensure a tight fit.
Using the Wood Dowel Sizes Chart
When you’re using a wood dowel sizes chart, you’re really just looking at a couple of factors.
First, use the diameter column to gauge how much strength you need for your connection based on the thickness of the two materials.
For example, when joining 3/4″ stock, you might pick a 3/8″ dowel diameter.
Remember, the dowel diameter should be no more than half the width of the board if you’re going larger.
Next, consider the length column. Dowel pins usually come in 1-inch or 1-and-a-half-inch sizes with some kits having a much larger assortment.
Other Wood Dowels
Let’s check briefly a few other types of these fasteners, especially as it relates to wood type.
Hardwood dowels are known for their durability, strength, and resistance to splitting, ’nuff said!
They’re made from popular hardwood species like maple, birch, oak, and cherry.
You’ll want to use these in projects that require sturdy joinery, such as furniture making, outdoor, yard/garden, and construction where weight bearing is important.
In terms of sizing, you generally use great diameters for further holding power.
Softwood dowels are known for their flexibility and easy workability.
They’re made from coniferous trees like pine, cedar, and even bamboo and balsa wood, which makes them a little bit easier to work with.
The softness of these dowels allows for easy shaping and manipulation, making them ideal for intricate woodworking projects and delicate joining methods.
Think crafts, STEM projects, and other DIY hobbies.
When it comes to sizes, you can find softwood dowels in diameters ranging from 1/8″ to 3″ and lengths of 36″ and 48″.
While metal rods and poles are mostly used in our modern-day world, you’ll still find some authentic flagsticks made from wood dowel rods.
Flagsticks are made from durable wood, ensuring both longevity and visual appeal.
These and pennant sticks often use a standard dowel size of 1/4 inch in thickness. This size ensures stability and durability for flag poles and wooden flagsticks without being too bulky.
Additionally, the length of the dowel depends on the size of the flag or pennant being displayed.
For smaller flags, like those used for decorative purposes, a shorter dowel length of around 12 to 18 inches is just perfect.
For larger flags, such as those used in parades or during national holidays, go for longer length dowel sizes of 24 to 36 inches (or more) to properly display the flag in all its glory.