How to Cut Dowel Butt Joints in Wood

What You'll Need
Drill Bit
Wood Glue
Tape Measure

Butt joints are joins that allow two pieces of wood to be joined together at their ends. A butt joint is simply a type of joint that can be used when making various types of wood working projects, like frames, drawers, and cabinets. When using a dowel to fasten the joint you can provide additional strength to the joint than when you use other fasteners.

The process of cutting a dowel butt joint in wood simply involves drilling holes into the wood, inserting the dowels into the holes, joining the pieces together and securing the joint with clamps. This how-to article for the do-it-yourselfer will explain each of these steps for creating a dowel butt joint in wood.  

Step 1: Purchase Materials 

The first step in the process of making a dowel butt joint is to purchase the wood needed for your project that requires the joint, including the dowels. You can use a simple hand saw or a circular saw to make the cuts in the dowels to the size needed for the joint or purchase pre-cut pins that are approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length. The longer the dowel, the stronger the butt joint.

Step 2: Drill Holes

You will need to drill holes into the adjoining pieces of wood that will form the butt joint. Drill two holes approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart from each other in the top corner of the bottom edge of the joint and the center inside bottom of the top piece of the butt joint. When formed, the resulting butt joint will look like an "L." You will need to drill the holes deep enough to conceal the dowels and form a tight bond when glued. A depth of about 7/16 of an inch for a 1 inch dowel should be sufficient to form a tight bond.  

Step 3: Cut the Dowels

After drilling holes into the wood pieces that form the joint, you need to cut the dowels (in the case where you did not purchase pre-cut dowels). Measure the dowel stick into 1 inch (or 1-1/2 inch if you desire longer dowels) sections and mark the pieces with a pencil. Take the stick to a circular saw and make the cuts to produce the lengths needed to join the butt joints. You can also use a hand saw to cut the dowels, making sure that you hold the end in place to keep the dowel stick from flying up while sawing the piece.

Step 4: Insert the Dowels

The next step is to place glue inside the drilled holes and place the dowels into one end of the wood. Join the pieces together and clamp the joint, using a wood clamp.