Review: JessEm Doweling Jig – FineWoodworking

Master kit. The full kit includes dowel plates, drills, and indexing pins for 1⁄4-in., 3⁄8-in., and 1⁄2-in. dowels.

JessEm Doweling Jig,, $238 for master kit; $143 for 38-in. kit

I’ve used doweling jigs a lot over the years, and JessEm’s new system is the best I’ve tried. Like others, it includes a base that clamps to your work, with evenly spaced steel bushings that guide a drill bit. And there are bushing plates for 1⁄4-in., 3⁄8-in., and 1⁄2-in. dowels. But this jig goes a lot further than that.

First, the jig and its accessories are beautifully machined, and the drill bits—a weak point with most doweling jigs—are top-class, cutting without tearing, and ejecting chips smoothly.

The perfect machining makes fence alignment very precise, with detents at popular offsets, letting you place dowels at various distances from the edge, or use more than one row of dowels in thicker stock.

Side-to-side alignment is just as good, with four valuable ways to do it. There’s a centerline mark that aligns with a pencil mark. There are also precise index pins that will align the jig with the last hole you drilled, allowing you to drill a row of evenly spaced holes. And there is a center notch that aligns the jig with another dowel, for panel glue-ups. Of course, you also can align the square end of the jig with the end of a workpiece, or offset it with a combo square.

I made a variety of joints with this jig, and each one came out as precise as the last, with the workpieces lining up perfectly. JessEm also sells dowels that fit the holes exactly.

While the fence plate is easy to clamp to most workpieces, the jig is even more versatile when combined with JessEm’s joinery workstation. At just $150, the Baltic-birch platform makes clamping faster and easier for all sorts of applications, including angled joints. It also accommodates JessEm’s new slip-tenon system, which I reviewed favorably in FWW #306.

A center mark linesup with a pencil mark
Base plate is accurate and versatile. There are lots of ways to align the jig. A center mark lines up with a pencil mark (above); a notch on top lets you align one row of dowels with another (below); and indexing pins let you drill an endless row of perfectly spaced holes.

a notch on top lets you align one row of dowels with another


Accurate alignment from the edge as well.
Accurate alignment from the edge as well. The plate has precise detents at 1⁄8-in. increments.


Clamp it in a vise.
Clamp it in a vise. The jig and a workpiece can also be clamped in a vise, and the drill bits work beautifully.


Perfect results.
Perfect results. Each joint Christiana produced was accurate, with JessEm’s dowels sliding in perfectly.


JessEm workstation is a no-brainer.
JessEm workstation is a no-brainer. For faster, more versatile setups, add JessEm’s handy workstation.

—Asa Christiana.
Photos: Asa Christiana
From Fine Woodworking #310.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply
Shopping cart