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I'm having a hard time making dowel holes on the butts of my pieces. I have a Milescraft Jointmate, which honestly isn't helping me a lot. The pegs which center the holes are too distant to fit into the butt of my lumber (2x5cm).

So I will probably buy a decent self-centering jig from China, but shipping usually takes long and in the meantime I need a shop made a jig to get me through in the meantime.

Problem is, I can't find metal bushings around here in Brazil. How can I make a decent jig without these? Would it be helpful to be make the holes as long as possible in the jig, or maybe replace the bushing with threaded inserts?

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    Just drill holes in the wooden 'fence' and use those directly. If you pick a harder hardwood you can get numerous projects (months of use) out of a wood-only jig of this type. – Graphus Jan 31 '19 at 18:05
  • Just built one out of cedrinho (Erisma uncinatum), no bushing or whatsoever, it's softwood but I'll test it and see if it lasts at least a couple of weeks. Thanks @Graphus – Eric Omine Jan 31 '19 at 19:17
  • In case it's of help to you in the future, the word softwood generally refers to the wood from conifers, as opposed to just "soft wood" which can be from any type of tree, including hardwood species. The best example of this is the one given most commonly, one of the softest woods in the world is balsa and that's technically a hardwood LOL – Graphus Feb 1 '19 at 7:58
  • Heh. And we confuse things more by using terms like "soft hardwood", of which you give an example of. – jdv Feb 26 at 16:23
  • See if there are any amateur metalworkers in your real-life or online area who would be willing to trade making some bushings out of tool steel, maybe in trade for some woodworking. – jdv Jun 25 at 13:41
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I can't find metal bushings around here in Brazil.

Bushings in commercial jigs would be made from tool steel to give a long service life (months or longer in commercial use, decades in typical use by a home woodworker).

For a shop-made jig though anything that adds wear resistance can help, so a bushing can be any suitable metal pipe with the correct internal diameter1. Although copper is quite soft it's worth using if nothing else is available, ditto aluminium. Brass is better. Steel is best of all naturally, including stainless and mild steels.

If suitable pipe for a bushing can't be found and you want to reinforce then a surface plate of metal will also add useful strength.

How can I make a decent jig without these?

For light/occasional use and one-off jobs drilling jigs made from wood only work fine. Even softwoods can be used and give a useful lifespan. I made a pocket-screw jig from this plan from pine or possibly a type of fir, I can't tell which, and after numerous uses it hasn't worn much (but I am careful not to lean the drill when using it).

Harder wood is better of course. If you want to make a jig that lasts longer it is worth using a good strong hardwood, and since jigs of this kind only require a small piece even a really nice species that you wouldn't normally consider for a workshop jig can be used — very short offcuts that would be suitable are generally not of much use otherwise.

There are numerous dowelling jigs posted on YouTube2 if you haven't seen any already, here's a good one but there are others worth looking at, including some self-centring types.


1 If you're buying pipe online internal diameter is often shortened to ID in technical specs, and outside diameter to OD.

2 As well as guides on how to make dowel plate so you can quickly and easily form custom hardwood dowels. These two jigs make a very useful pairing for do-it-yourself dowel joinery.

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