Screws vs dowels

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I'm starting to construct larger pieces (chests, display cabinets, night stands, etc.) and I very much like the "arts and crafts" style. I would prefer adhering to those principles and use dowels instead of screws as much as possible. But I don't want to ignore practicality either. Would I be better off using screws which are countersunk and then hide the heads with plugs? (This would, of course, be totally dependent on the dynamics of the attachment point in question.)
FoggyTown
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Dowels are cool...but require clamps. Screws are quick and one can hide the head with a plug.
Your call. (I use both.) I have found, however, that smaller spindles work better with dowels. There is a smaller chance of splitting the wood.
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Depends upon (among other things) how good you are, and how fussy you are.
Dowels require precise fits; screws are much less demanding. On the other hand, dowels are invisible, but screws are pretty obvious unless you do an incredible job of matching color and grain on your plug.
I use pocket screws where they can't be seen, but wouldn't consider using a screw with a plug where it could be seen. I only use dowels when biscuits or pocket screws aren't possible. But once I get my domino...!
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Ooooo . . . no, no, no! You misunderstand me. I have seen many arts & crafts pieces where the dowels are an actual feature - either by coloration, grain orientation or protrusion. Hiding them is something I do NOT want to do. Even if a screwed joint is necessary, I would make it so the plug is visible.
I guess the question I wanted to ask was, everything else being equal, is a dowel as strong as a screw?
FoggyTown
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"FoggyTown" wrote in message

Are you certain those visible components were not "pinned" M&T joints?

That depends ... what type of join/joint are you planning on using a screw?
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wrote:

I expect you are mistaken. They often have exposed tenons, but no furniture features conspicuous plugs or dowels. Are are are simply ugly.

Dowels are more rigid than screws, but screws will hold even if a joint is busted. Does that make them stronger or weaker? Years ago I built a rather shoddy TV stand out of scrap, always wondered how strong it was. When I replaced it with something nicer, I tested it. With 300 pounds of weight on it the glued joints gave way, but I actually had to hit it repeatedly sideways with a sledge hammer to get it to fail for the nails. (I haven't used a nail, except to hold a back on, for a while now)

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Toller wrote:

...
You might tell that to Sam Maloof and let him know he's been wrong all these years... :)
"There are many places in my furniture where a dowel or mortise-and-tenon joint just does not work because of the thinness of the wood; so I use screws. In effect the screw is a metal dowel. I am not a purist. .... I have no qualms about this."
--from Sam Maloof, Woodworker.
"...as an example, it's nothing more than an end grain to long grain glued joint, drilled through the rail with 3- to 4-inch screws pulling it tight. Then the screws are just plugged over with a rosewood or ebony plug for contrast. ..."
From Gary in KC, from having taken one of his classes on chairmaking...
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Should I see him I will tell him. Although the are likely to be unusual instances to the contrary, plugs are ugly. "If you can't make it attractive, make it conspicuously ugly"?
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Wade Lippman wrote:

Makes me wonder if you know who Maloof is???
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dpb wrote:

Ain't Maloof that old guy who can't cut a straight line, so he earns his living making rocking chairs for his wife?
<said with a straight face>
Bill 8-)
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Thank you for your opinion. That IS all it was, right?

Makes me wonder if anyone in here knows what "arts & crafts" is. Gothic revival? Medieval revival? One of the basic features is NO MECHANICAL FASTENINGS.
FoggyTown
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FoggyTown wrote:

I don't know about the fastenings but one characteristic ala Stickey was exposed joinery. Dowels aren't "exposed joinery".
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<snip>

I think that you've just answered your own question... unless dowels are considered Mechanical Fasteners..
mac
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No, a dowel is not a mechanical fastener. Screws, nails, brads, clips, etc. are.
Let me try restate the question.
In a project where screws would normally (and acceptably) be used to attach one piece of wood to another, is there anything lost (i.e. in strength or structural integrity) in using glued dowels instead of screws?
FoggyTown
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FoggyTown wrote:

It's certainly possible. Screws are metal, and have higher strength/size.
It's possible to invent scenarios where screws would hold better than dowels, because dowels of sufficient strength would not actually fit in the space required.
Chris
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Chris Friesen wrote:

That, of course, is the precise reason Maloof uses screws many places he does...
Given the tensile strength of steel, it would take a very large dowel to exceed it from a purely mechanical viewpoint. The screw will almost invariably pull from the wood by the wood failing long before the screw itself will fail.
That said, in most situations well-fitted long-to-long grain glue joints will be nearly as strong as the wood itself. Dowels can be used to increase glue area or for alignment. In most cases, it's the extra area that adds strength over the joint without them when there is added strength or they add the cross grain breaking resistance where otherwise there might only be a _relatively_ narrow long grain which could break along the grain (and not necessarily or even likely at the glue joint itself).
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: That, of course, is the precise reason Maloof uses screws many places he : does...
Yes, although ironically he uses drywall screws.
    -- Andy Barss
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Andrew Barss wrote:

At least initially...like anything else he does, I think he's pretty pragmatic -- before deep thread thin shank wood screws other than drywall screws were very common, they were about the only choice w/o a real specialty search...
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"dpb" wrote in message

Food for thought:
Old timey, wooden shutter frames around here were often made with M&T joints (one side, top and bottom, purposely unglued to facilitate replacing the shutters) and with a screw countersunk into the edge of the shutter frame and driven directly into the end grain of the tenons.
The screw hole was plugged to keep out the elements, but could be drilled out later if/when it eventually came time to replace the shutter slats.
It made for a helluva strong joint on big window shutters, even without glue.
Haven't seen them made that way in a long time, but it was once a common method in this part of the country.
As it is a very similar principle, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that was where old Sam got his idea for screwing his chair joints together?
There's not much new under the sun.
:)
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Swingman wrote:

Yeah, all the windows on the old barn use pins (essentially a 16d cut to length) for the same purpose. If need to make a new bottom rail, for example, just drive them on through, take it apart and do whatever...
I think the impetus for SM was that his pieces were simply too thin and he had a long vs end grain joint that wouldn't hold at all w/o a fastener. Being self-taught, he didn't know any better that he wasn't supposed to do that. Since they worked and lasted, it became his standard technique...
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