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Make a Dowel Table

Turn a handful of dowels and two pine rounds into custom furniture you can use as an end table or nightstand. Then decorate it with an equally creative finish.

Collection of dowel tables

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Drill and Forstner bit set
  • Miter saw
  • Sander; 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper
  • Utility knife
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Tape measure


  • Quantities for all parts vary by table
  • 18-in pine round, #1016
  • 1-1/4-in x 36-in oak round dowel, #19434
  • 5/8-in x 36-in oak round dowel, #19383
  • 16-gauge, 1-1/2-in wire brads
  • Wood glue
  • Spray adhesive, #41209

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. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Project Resources


These tables require you to drill holes at 90 degrees to the surface. Use a drill press, if possible. Otherwise, create a drilling guide by drilling holes in a scrap 2 x 4 until you make one that’s 90 degrees to the surface on all sides as measured with a square. Hold this block in place where you need to drill a hole and use it to guide the bit just enough to start the hole. Except for the table shown with the burnt finish, these tables go together much the same way. We’ll include instructions for the burnt-finish table at the end.

Drill the Dowel Holes

Step 1

Align the pine rounds

Stack the two pine rounds upside down with the tabletop on the bottom of the stack, and use a square to align them. Then screw the rounds together with 1-1/2-inch wood screws.

Step 2

Lay out hole locations

Print the Dowel Table Layout Guides and choose a pattern. Find the center of the top round using a carpenter’s square and straightedge. Then mark the dowel pattern of your choice on the round.

Step 3

Tape off drill bit

On a Forstner bit sized to suit the holes in your pattern, tape the shaft about 2 inches from the tip to act as a drilling depth guide. Place the bit in your drill.

Step 4

Drill holes in the pine round

Using a drill press, drilling guide, or square, drill through one pine round into the round underneath. Repeat for each marked hole. Unscrew the pine rounds, and patch the screw holes in both pieces.

Step 5

Cut dowels to length

Bundle the dowels with the ends flush and cut them to a uniform 20-1/2 inches long. Sand each dowel smooth.

Assemble the Table

Step 1

Before applying a finish, tape about 1/4 inch of the dowel at the end you’ll insert into the upper pine round for a solid gluing surface later. Select a finish for the table and consult the instructions to see if the finish should be applied before or after assembly. (The table shown is unfinished for photography.)

Step 2

Place a few drops of glue in the holes of the pine round that will be the top of the table. Insert a dowel and use a square to make it 90 degrees to the round on all sides. Hold it in place for at least two minutes or until the glue holds it in position. Let the leg dry another 20 minutes and repeat for the remaining legs.

Good to Know

Take extra care to make sure each dowel is 90 degrees to the round. An angled dowel will make it hard or impossible to add the lower pine round.

Step 3

Rest the pine round on the spacers

From scrap 2 x 4s, cut three spacers 15 inches long. Slide the pine round over the dowels until it rests on the spacers.

Good to Know

By shortening the spacers, you can move the lower pine round farther up the legs, as with the table featuring a leather-look finish and black painted legs. Decide how much distance you want between the pine rounds before cutting the spacers.

Step 4

Drill reinforcement nail pilot hole

Drill a 1/16-inch pilot hole at an angle through the pine round and into a dowel. Drive a 1-1/2-inch wire brad into the hole and set the head below the surface.

Step 5

Turn the table on its feet and touch up any damage to the finish caused during the assembly. Then install floor protectors on the ends of the legs to suit the floor surface.

Drilling Different-Size Rounds

Step 1

Burnt finish table with offset rounds

The table shown with a burnt finish differs from the others because it uses an 18-inch pine round offset over a 24-inch pine round. To orient the pieces, first find the centers of both pine rounds. Then mark the hole locations on the 24-inch pine round.

Step 2

Place the 18-inch pine round on the unmarked face of the 24-inch round and align it with the hole markings as shown in the Dowel Table Layout Guides. Screw the two rounds together through the 24-inch round.

Step 3

Drill the dowel holes through the 24-inch round and into the 18-inch one. Apply the finish of your choice and continue with the remaining steps used for the other tables.