Pre-Glued Dowel Advice

Pre-glued dowels seem to hold well if holes are precisely drilled, but don't save a lot of time except in an automated setup. January 2, 2012

I want to try using pre-glued dowels and am interested in advice.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
A couple of years back I ordered 5000 pre-glued dowels thinking that their use would save us time with applying glue as well as cleaning up the excess from squeeze out. I found that we really did not save much time, as we had to either wet the dowel or squirt water (mist) into the hole receiving the dowel. I never could determine how much was just right. We hand apply all our dowels, so I guess the time saving would be more of a factor to someone using automated doweling.

I never found much confidence in using them either, as the layer of pre-applied glue is pretty thin. We really rely on the dowels to hold our shutter panels together, and any holes that were drilled a little large had to have glue applied anyway. I think they would probably be fine for drawer boxes or cabinet boxes that will not see the stress on joints that shutters do.

From contributor P:
I've been using them for about ten years. My initial concerns about the integrity of the thin glue coating were not supported by destruction testing of some test joints. They hold fine. I'm using them for casework (mostly melamine), rather than shutters or another application where they might be subject to more stress.

I sprits water to fill the holes (cheapo Home Depot sprayer works great), wait a minute or so, dump out water, insert dowel, clamp. I use uncoated dowels and glue on pre-finished material, as the water will lift the coating. Likewise for unfinished material that'll be stained - don't need any water rings.

From contributor S:

We tried them. Great for automated machines like drill/insert, but not so great for hand inserted dowels. Waiting for the water to absorb and dumping water out of holes took us more time than our glue bottles. If you want a nice improvement in your hand doweling, look at the Lamello metering bottles. They are expensive but super fast. We can put glue in all the holes in seconds. We also have a bunch of the rubber bulb type glue bottles with the dowel nozzle. Almost as fast, but not as accurate.

From contributor J:
I have installed several machines that use these dowels. If you are looking for a source, we always had great luck with Chicago Dowel.