furniture making and flat pack furniture with cam dowels

Hi,
I've noticed that all flat pack furniture, regardless of what it is, follows the same general construction: two rigid sides, a rigid top, and a flimsy back. I guess they use a flimsier piece of wood for the back to save money? The top of the sides and the bottom of the top are drilled to accept dowels and/or cam dowels, like these: http://www.screwfix.com/p/cam-dowel-24mm-pack-of-50/93435
One day, when I find time, I would like to have a go at making my own furniture. I know it won't be as quick or as cheap as buying flat pack, but where's the fun in that ?! I'm sure there must be a good book I could buy about this. Can anyone recommend one?
I can see that I would use a forstner bit to drill the hole for the cam lock and a pillar drill to accurately drill the holes for the dowels and cam dowels.
I don't have a pillar drill at the moment. I do have to drill through bits of wood for various projects and sometimes my holes are not as perpendicular as I would like, so I think a pillar drill would be useful. I have used google groups to search for old posts about pillar drills and I have found a few recommending a 500w motor but looking at Axminster, most of them seem to be lower than this, around the 300W mark, unless you go for an expensive floor standing one. Is that the only way to get the bigger motor?
Machine mart sell "Clarke metalworker" models but I'm only interested in woodworking. What's the difference? MM also list different tapers for different models. I've heard of Morse tapers but what are the other types and what are the advantages /disadvantages of them?
And one last question about the furniture, if drilling a hole into the top of a side piece, is the best way to rotate the table 90 degrees and clamp the piece to that? That could be difficult if you want to build a tall wardrobe/bookcase/etc. as you would need the drill to be taller than the piece. I don't suppose there is any other way, such as a drill that rotates!
TIA
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On 04/05/2012 11:18, Fred wrote:

Making your own flat pack would certainly be a labour of love! It's all about jigs and gadgets, some of which might take ages to make, and only a few seconds to use. This catalogue would be worth a look

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I have a gadget somewhere which fits on a hand-held drill and ensures it drills centrally on the edge of a panel, and parallel to the long sides.
Pillar drills are not expensive and well worth having if you have the space especially if you do much drilling. Almost essential if you need to drill thicker metal accurately.
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On Fri, 04 May 2012 12:06:11 +0100, newshound

That's a possibility. Any idea what it is called?

No metalwork planned, only wood at the present time.
Thanks.
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On 04/05/2012 11:18, Fred wrote:

...
Why would you want to make your own flat pack furniture? Its main purpose is to save storage space in warehouses. If you want to make your own furniture, a 1/2" router and a dovetail jig will make a much better job.
http://www.trend-uk.com/en/UK/productgroup/45/routing_jigs.html
Colin Bignell
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On Fri, 04 May 2012 12:17:10 +0100, Nightjar

Hi,
I know that dovetailing is the proper way to do it but I thought I'd start simple and work my way to the cleverer stuff later!
Thanks.
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On 04/05/2012 14:10, Fred wrote:

Actually, you are proposing to do it the other way around. A router and a dovetailing jig is the simplest way.
Colin Bignell
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On Fri, 04 May 2012 15:25:16 +0100, Nightjar

Thanks. I'll give that another thought then. Where did you get your jig from? I thought dovetail jigs cost more than the routers!
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On 07/05/2012 21:55, Fred wrote:

The posh ones do, but a basic one can be had for 40 or so.
If you want cheap easy joins, then have a look at something like a pocket hole jig...
A bit corny, but you get the idea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaSWZJFZQh8

Or biscuit jointing is also very cheap once you have the machine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJt5NRZH7_U&feature=related

--
Cheers,

John.

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On 04/05/2012 11:18, Fred wrote:

As others have said, it's very difficult to get the same accuracy with knife and fork methods which mass production factories can achieve with elaborate jigs.
The only advantage to the end user of this type of construction is that it can sometimes (but not always if dowels and glue are also used) be dismantled again should you wish to do so.
If you *don't* see a need to dismantle it, you will get a far better job by using a different method of construction. Dovetails have already been mentioned, but dowels[1] or biscuit joints[2] are also ok, and are far easier to get right than the method you suggest.
If you are going to use any method which involves glue, it's a good idea to have some sash clamps to hold everything together until the glue has dried.
[1] You can buy a dowelling jig like this for a few quid, making it easy to drill accurate dowel holes in both pieces http://www.toolstation.com/shop/Hand+Tools/Carpenters+Tools/Dowelling+Jig/d10/sd150/p22284
[2] A biscuit jointer such as this will cost a bit more, but has quite a few uses. [I bought mine when it was on offer at 40-odd quid!] http://www.screwfix.com/p/erbauer-erb900-900w-biscuit-jointer-230v/65190?cm_sp=Search-_-SearchRec-_-Area1&_requestid 88851
--
Cheers,
Roger
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wrote:

I'm not planning to dismantle anything but who knows what the future holds, so dismantability I suppose would be useful. OTOH I could cross that bridge if I ever came to it.

I suppose using wooden dowels only halves the number of holes.
I've never made biscuit joints. I always thought they would be hard to do for some reason.

That must be what newshound was talking about. The description says "E, L, and T" joints. Sorry for being thick; what do they stand for?
TIA
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On 04/05/2012 14:17, Fred wrote:

Dowels without a jig are actually quite difficult. Even with one, you have got to be spot on in two axis at once.

Biscuits are about the easiest and fastest jointing method out there. They also give you some positioning latitude in one axis when assembling.
http://www.diyfaq.org.uk/powertools/biscuit.htm

Well, T would be one plank meets the middle of another at 90 degrees - a T shape.
L would be a square corner...
As for E, both of the above perhaps!
--
Cheers,

John.

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I have a dowel kit which I've had for years, which is very simple to use. You drill the holes in one side (8mm, IIRC). Then you insert brass plugs in the holes, which have a flange so they won't go right in, and a spike sticking out which marks the centres of the matching holes to drill. Very quick and easy.
--
Andrew Gabriel
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
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On Fri, 4 May 2012 19:13:40 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@cucumber.demon.co.uk (Andrew Gabriel) wrote:

Sounds ideal, thanks, I'll look out for one of those.
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On Fri, 04 May 2012 19:24:07 +0100, John Rumm

Sorry, I was expecting them to stand for something (egg, lettuce, tomato) rather than something so simple!
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It's always worth finding a Youtube video that gives a lot more information that the instruction sheets. A similar product.... <
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhm8V3N_LNw

<http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Wolfcraft-Dowelling-Dowel-Wood-Jig-Drill-Guide -6-8-10mm-/390226448890?pt=UK_Home_Garden_PowerTools_SM&hash=item5adb4f11 fa>
--
Alan
news2009 admac myzen co uk
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On 04/05/2012 13:11, Roger Mills wrote:

You can buy a drill guide like this http://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster-axminster-drill-guide-prod22269/ which gives surprisingly good results. Axminster also have a good selection of doweling jigs.

Another option is to screw it together & use a plug cutter to hide the screws. http://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster-axminster-tin-coated-tapered-plug-cutters-prod452385 /
--
Dave - The Medway Handyman www.medwayhandyman.co.uk

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On 04/05/2012 11:18, Fred wrote:

That and it only needs stop the frame from "racking" and stuff falling out...

There are plenty to choose from. You may be better off with a book on basic techniques first though... possibly something like "Woodworking with the Router" is quite a good one.

I think you may be creating a problem that you don't actually need to solve. Cam and dowel fixings solve the problem of how to make a strong joint in cheap chipboard, that can also be flat packed and assembled later. Its not a joint you would normally use on "real" furniture since there are plenty of better options available if you don't need something that is going to be packed up as a kit and assembled by a non skilled operative later.
For easy joint making in your own furniture, have a look at options like pocket hole jigs or a biscuit jointer.
For example, see how I assembled these:
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Small_bookcase
(cam and dowel fixing could be done with a home made jig - or for that matter there may be commercial ones available - but will be done on big computer controlled machines in a factory normally)

Yup they can be useful...

MM have some with larger motors:
http://www.machinemart.co.uk/shop/product/details/cdp401b-drill-press?da=1&TC=SRC-pilar%20drill

None. You probably won't find a "woodworking" specific drill press - they will all do both. Bigger beefier ones being better suited to some woodworking techniques.

I would say for woodworking and general drilling you can pretty much ignore it. Many modern pillar drills have a protruding tapered bar that mates with a tapered socket on the back of the chuck. Hence its only really of any use for fitting a chuck, and that will hold all your bits. Some higher end machines will have it the other way around with the female bit of the taper fitting in the head of the drill, and male bit on the chuck. This allows the option of taking the chuck off the head, and fitting a drill bit with the same taper directly into the head. Handy for very large blacksmith drills, and also for when you need spot on centring accuracy. (a three jaw chuck will not give precise realignment when you take the bit out and put it back again - but its at a tolerance level that is not going to bother a woodworker)

Using the pillar drill to make yourself a jig would probably be easier. All you really would need is a block of wood with an accurately drilled hole through it in the middle, and another couple of holes in the middle at either end. Glue some dowels into the end holes. Then slap it on your edge with a dowel either side of the panel and rotate such that they are both touching one side each. Your centre hole through the block is now dead centre on the panel and you can use it to drill a square hole.
--
Cheers,

John.

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On 04/05/2012 13:13, John Rumm wrote:

I drew one for you:
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title ge_drilling_jig
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Mon, 07 May 2012 13:57:03 +0100, John Rumm

Thank you. Very kind of you.
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