Rockler Dowel Drilling Jig Kit
$17.99 - $24.99
- Solid Durable Aluminum Drill Guide
- Adjustable with Modifications
- Easy to Use
- Plexiglas Is Breakable
- Adjustability Requires Additional Parts
- Pricey For Components
- Fixed Drill Sizes
Rockler offers a line of what I call “face indexing” doweling jig kits. This line includes 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ kits. While this review is of the 1/4″ version, it applies equally to all versions. Rockler sells the entire set of doweling jigs, but there is no discount for purchasing them together.
The cost of the jig is a bit high considering its limited use. However, it does include a nice drill bit and stop collar. The kit does periodically go on sale for 25% off. Just keep an eye on it using the Price Tracker.
I find the jig to be extremely accurate, although like other jigs it only works as well as your preparations. There are reports in other reviews that the glossy Plexiglas may allow the jig to slip while drilling. Personally I have not experienced this, but I can imagine it occurring if using a metal clamp. I would recommend using a rubber tipped clamp, like the Irwin Quick Clamps.
Similarly, some users have reported that the Plexiglas bends during drilling. Again, I have not experienced this, but I always clamp high up on the jig to prevent such problems.
Ease of Use
The jig comes with some short instructions on the back. But honestly, what instructions do you really need. Line up the two pieces you need to join, using a straight edge make an index mark down the center, and then line up the center line on the Plexiglas with the center line on the wood.
The hardened steel drill guide is heavy, beefy, and shows little chance of wearing out. After a fair amount of use mine are still perfectly round.
The same cannot be said of the Plexiglas portion. On the 1/4″ version, the steel drill guide dramatically outweighs the Plexiglas, I am sure this imbalance gets worse on the 1/2″ version. Some users have reported the Plexiglas portion breaking when dropped on the ground and it certainly sounds plausible to me. A few times when removing the clamp, I had to quickly catch the jig to prevent it from falling.
Needless to say, you will have to be careful not to drop the jig. In theory, if I ever broke the plate, I could replace it with some flat aluminum stock.
Out of the box, the jig is at best moderately useful. This is because the jig is fixed so that the holes are cut at a predefined offset from the face of the wood. This greatly limits when and where you can use the jig. However, the drill guide is attached to the Plexiglas using standard machine screws. These screws can be removed and shims placed between the Plexiglas and the drill guide to increase the offset.
Sadly, the screw mounts do not protrude all the way through the drill guide, so you will have to use an extra nut to keep the jig held securely together if you insert shims.
I will add some pictures of my altered guide eventually.
Although improvements could be made and there is a potential to easily break the Plexiglas, in the end I am happy with my jig. I would even consider purchasing the other two guides in the future.
If I ever break the Plexiglas, I will post a picture of my aluminum solution.