Hand-Drilling Jigs for Confirmat Screws or Dowels

If you're doing more than an occasional piece, an entry-level low-end line boring setup beats any hand method, even with a jig. November 27, 2012

Iím wondering what kinds of jigs are available for the small shop for line boring for dowels or confirmats. I'd love a line boring machine but it's just not in the budget right now, and Iím just starting out. Also on the subject, what is the industry standard spacing between dowels/confirmats? I think I read 47mm on centers somewhere. Are that many really required to build a box? Also, for the small shop, what kinds/brands/features should one look for in a starter (but professional) line boring machine?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor Z:
As I understand it, the whole point of using dowels or confirmats is because you have the machinery for it. Without the machinery, I think it would actually be slower than the staple/screw method, or biscuits where hidden joints are needed. You can get a used single head boring machine for less than $1,000. Why not start there?

From contributor J:
Hafele sells a jig that you mount in a standard electric drill. They sell a bit that is long and tapered. Staple your box together and then use the jig. The jig has a shoulder on it that is centered at 3/8". When doing a partition we would use a straight edge and butt the jig against it. This really was not a bad system and could get some cases knocked together in short order. This hole worked great for a 7x50 confirmat screw. The line bore part of it there are jigs out there but look hard enough and you could find a used 13 spindle manual line bore machine with manual drill and a stop system that will let you drill endless left to right. The system youíre trying is based on the 32mm system. Blum hardware has a whole literature system regarding this system also true 32. Blum will give you all the setbacks necessary for the system in a PDF format. Any cabinet hardware company has this information for their products.

From contributor D:
We use doweling, but with CNC I would not want to use it until you are ready to step up to dowel drilling and insertion equipment. You will need some sort of line bore pretty quickly. The jigs would only do for an occasional cabinet. The Hafele Zentrix jig is a good way to hand drill confirmats. If you cannot afford that I would stick to using another type of screw.

I never did like the staple system unless you have something to line up the parts first. We used biscuits for years for alignment with confirmats for clamping. I have a hand doweling machine sold by Hoffman, expensive, with a fence to align on 32 centers, but still feel the biscuits are faster, you only need a couple to align before screwing or just increase the amount and add some Roo glue and clamps for finished ends.

Not sure where you read about 47 mm centers most all doweling equipment is on 32 centers so 32, 64, 96 etc. With dowels we use 5 in your typical upper cabinet and 8 in a base cabinet.

As far as line boring machines go most American made or European machines are good, Marcons are a little light. If you can find a used 21 or 23 spindle it would be better than a 13, faster and less chance of adding inaccuracy. Not a big fan of combinations but if you can find a used hinge machine with line boring attachment that might not be bad to start. I would not want to pay too much for the line bore attachment though because you can get a used 13 spindle for not much more, or even less sometimes.

From the original questioner:
This won't be for full blown cabinet construction. I do refacing/refinishing and occasionally need to add or modify a cabinet box here and there, nothing that requires big expensive machinery or massive investments in heavy duty equipment.

I reviewed the AWI specs for confirmats and you're right it's about 5" on centers which should be simple enough to do with a hand held jig for the occasional box. I've actually got one I bought from Richelieu for drilling for handles/hinges which has a line boring attachment. It's just 5mm pilot but should work for lining things up I think. I also watched a video online on how cases are built. I always learn better by seeing/doing and that helped a lot. Reading all the technical info helps it all come together.