Dowel Basics


(Woodworker wannabe here)
I had a blowout on my recliner the other day. I preceeded to unstaple the upholstery to find out that a crossmember had developed a split and the attached bracketry came undone. To fix the issue, I swapped all the spring retainer clips, and two metal brackets onto a new piece of wood. The ends needed to be drilled to accomodate two dowels per end. The old ones were 3/8" OD dowels with some kind of spiral cut in them. I went to look for some of these at Home Depot and I found I had two options. I could buy a three foot hardwood dowel for 79 cents or for a dollar-fifty I could buy some fluted, precut dowels in a bag. I bought the ones in the bag, thinking the flutes may be better at holding glue.
What's better; the smooth dowel or the fluted dowel or the spiral-cut dowel? What drill size would you use on a 3/8 OD dowel? Is it better to drill the nominal size, a slight press fit, or a loose fit?
I drilled the holes using a 23/64 drill bit, slathered the fluted dowels in Elmer's glue, and assembled the pieces using a furniture clamp. It's still curing so I don't know how well the hold is going to be, so while I am waiting, I figured on getting your dowel filled opinions.
Relz
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wrote:

Fluted. Drill 3/8. An overworked topic for discussion, but no stress, and glue is stronger than wood. The dowel is basically a guide. The wood/glue/wood bond holds it together. The snug-fitted dowel would be a large factor in shear stress if there was no glue ...but there is.
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Relz wrote:

The flutes/spirals are to permit excess glue to escape. You can split what you are doweling if smooth dowels are tight and there is too much glue. __________

I don't use dowels much but when I do I drill the nominal size. If I have a dowel that is actually that size (most are not) I use a handscrew (clamp) to very slowly push it in....the excess glue is actually forced through the pores of the tropical hardwood dowel and comes out the top. ____________

It should be fine.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
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