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Dowel Table Set

A simple jig for drilling holes turns dowels into interlocking parts that you can assemble into several different sized tables of many sizes.

Dowel table set

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Miter box and handsaw, or powered miter saw
  • Cordless drill and driver bits
  • 1-1/4-in hole saw bit
  • 120- and 180-grit sandpaper
  • 180-grit sanding sponge
  • Painting supplies
  • Wood glue


  • 1 x 4 x 72 pine board, #1154
  • 1/2 x 36 square dowel, #27692
  • 3/4 x 36 square dowel, #27835
  • 1-1/4 x 48 round dowel (2 for small and large table), #19414
  • 3/4 x 48 round dowel (4 for small/medium, 8 for large), #19384
  • 1 x 18 round pine top (small table), #1016
  • 1 x 24 round pine top (medium table), #228499
  • 1 x 36 round pine top (large table), #1020
  • Aerosol satin polyurethane
  • Primer
  • Valspar Signature semigloss paint: Rushing Stream (#5005-10B), Can’t Miss Lime (#6011-10), Chickadee (#3002-1B)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown.

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Project Resources


To start this project, you must build a guide that allows you to drill holes in the edge of a dowel for interlocking joints. Take your time in building the guide, and drill the holes to be precise as possible -- you’ll be rewarded with a very fast assembly.

Drill Guides

Step 1

Cut the guide top/bottom (A) from a 1 x 4 pine board (Project Diagram, Drawing 1, & Drill Guide Cutting List), and cut the sides (B) from a 3/4-inch square dowel. Cut the bit guide blocks (C) from a 1/2-inch square dowel (you will need four of these per table).

Step 2

Drill a 1-1/4-inch hole in the jig top (A) 1-1/8 inches from one end. Then assemble the two drill guides with glue and screws.

Make a Base

Step 1

Place the stretchers in the drill guides.

Cut the 1-1/4-inch and 3/4-inch dowels to length for the table sizes you wish to build (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Slip the stretchers (B) into the drill guides so the ends are flush with the jig end that’s closest to the hole in the top and push the drill guide spacer into position between the dowels. Repeat for the other end of the stretchers (Project Diagram, Drawing 3) and (Photo 1).

Step 2

Drill the holes in the stretchers using the guides.

Clamp the drill guides and dowels to a work surface and drill the holes in the edge of the dowels in one of the guides. Drill the first hole, then use a scrap of the 1-1/4-inch dowel and slip it into the first hole to keep the dowels from moving, then drill the hole in the other jig (Photo 2).

Step 3

Unclamp the drill guides, remove the dowels and repeat to drill the remaining three pairs of stretchers for each table. Each time, you’ll use up a pair of spacers. Sand the dowels with 150-grit sandpaper.

Step 4

Assemble the sides with a square and spacers

Glue two stretchers to a pair of legs (Project Diagram, Drawing 4) to create the first table side assembly (Photo 2), and repeat to complete the second side. Cut four scraps 3 inches long for spacers and lay out the assembly next to a carpenter’s square for an accurate side assembly (Photo 3). Repeat to make the second side.

Step 5

Stand two table sides with the stretchers facing in (Project Diagram, Drawing 5) and clamp the remaining stretchers in place, resting these stretchers on the side stretchers. A spreader clamp helps hold the assemblies as you glue the remaining stretchers in position.

Finish the Table

Step 1

Spray two coats of aerosol polyurethane on the table bases. Sand between coats with a 180-grit sanding sponge. For the top, sand with 150-grit sandpaper and apply a primer. Lightly sand the primer and apply two coats of paint.

Step 2

Apply beads of construction adhesive to the center of the top stretchers and press the top in position, centering it in the table.