Dowels vs Biscuits Joints — Uses, Strength, and More

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Woodworking has seen some remarkable advancements, and the methods for joining pieces of wood have evolved significantly. Two contemporary solutions that have gained prominence are dowels and biscuits. But what sets them apart?

In this comprehensive comparison, I’ll provide you with a detailed analysis of the characteristics of both dowels and biscuits. This will empower you to make an informed decision about which option best suits your woodworking needs.

Biscuit Joints: What To Consider and When To Use

Biscuit joinery is a simple yet effective way to join two pieces of wood together. Using a biscuit jointer, matching slots are cut in both pieces and filled with glue before the specially-shaped “biscuits” fill out these spaces for an even flush surface. 

However, careful measurements must be made to ensure perfect alignment in a biscuit joint. You can find affordable tools for this particular task.

Festool Domino: A Biscuit Joiner

The Festool Domino biscuit joiner breaks the mold of traditional biscuit jointers with its unique cutting mechanism and strong mortise-and-tenon joint. 

Festool Domino

This Biscuit power tool provides a remarkable alternative to traditional woodworking techniques by quickly and easily creating fully rounded mortises in one plunge motion.

Its revolutionary design makes it stand out from any other tools on the market, making it essential for achieving exceptional results when joining a biscuit joint together.

Will Biscuits Make Wood Joints Stronger?

A biscuit joint is a wood joinery technique designed to quickly align pieces of wood with minimal effort but not provide structural strength, like making a picture frame. 

For strong joints in carpentry projects, turn to time-tested techniques like Mortise and Tenon, Dowel, or Miter joints/mitered joints; all superior options for strengthening the connection between two pieces of timber.

Are Biscuits Joints Strong as Screws?

A biscuit joint is typically a stronger joint than screws because a biscuit expands, creating a more secure hold in the wood. 

biscuit joint

However, depending on the materials used and application needs, there may be times when using screws is preferable. 

Dowel Joints: What To Consider & When To Use

Doweling is a technique used to create strong and durable connections between two pieces of wood. Wooden dowels are inserted into drilled holes, glued up, and clamped while they are set. 

This method creates an extremely solid joint unlike any other construction process, so some consider it the strongest available joint. It’s perfect for furniture makers, toy designers, or anyone wanting shelving projects with quality reinforcement without nails or screws. 

Additionally, using this type of joinery helps maintain the natural grain pattern in your project for a more professional finish.

making a dowel joint

For any woodworking project, a doweling jig is an essential tool for making wood joints, ensuring proper alignment and precision.  

A dowel joint comes in diverse sizes to suit the specific requirements of each job; the corresponding size guide can be found on many doweling jigs or any self-centering jigs. 

Do Dowels Make Strong Wood Joints for Furniture?

Dowels are a highly suitable option for crafting furniture because of their exceptional strength and ability to resist splitting, bending, or cracking.

Thanks to their reliable performance under pressure, dowels also offer a reliable solution for connecting various components of furniture, contributing to its overall stability and functionality.

Their cylindrical shape makes them easy to work with, and they can be drilled into pre-drilled holes or hammered in place using a mallet. 

Dowel Joint

Available in hardwoods such as oak, birch [1], and maple; dowels provide a strong joint when used alongside glue or other adhesives for construction purposes.

How Heavy Dowel Joints Can Handle?

When using 3/4 inch and-grain hardwood pieces, a single dowel joint can safely hold up to 150 pounds. Adding additional dowels increases this weight limit. 

However, if the wood is not in good condition or unglued, then it should be assumed that the capacity of the joinery will decrease significantly. 

Although best suited for light to moderately heavy objects, Dowel joints are a strong visual connection with an aesthetic appeal when used correctly.

Can You Glue Dowels?

When looking to make bond two workpieces or a snug and sturdy joint with dowels, using the best wood glue is often the best choice. 

joining wood pieces with dowels

When it comes to your woodworking projects, it’s essential to think about two key factors: the size of your dowel and the type of material you’re working with. 

There are situations where you might need to use specific adhesives to ensure a robust connection between surfaces that aren’t exactly the same or between two pieces that have an uneven shape.

These considerations will help you create strong and reliable joints in your woodworking endeavors.

Disadvantages of Dowel Joints

Wooden pegs used in the joint connection can be prone to splitting, reducing stability and increasing the risk of breakage or failure.

Compared to other joinery methods, dowel joints can be tricky and time-consuming to assemble. It’s much harder to adjust once they are in place since the precise alignment of pegs and holes must remain intact. 

Dowel joint

This method also requires a hammer for each peg as well as careful placement due to the number of elements involved, making it longer than many other assembly processes.

Comparison of Dowel and Biscuit Joints: Is There a Better Joint?

Biscuits are an essential component of creating strong and durable edge joints when joining multiple planks, such as those needed for a tabletop or shelf. 

By aligning the planks in place and providing extra gluing surfaces than without them, biscuit joiners offer long-lasting hold over time, all with ease! This birch or compressed wood can be found in various sizes. 

Biscuits offer users an additional gluing surface to improve and add more strength, providing neater alignment when joining two pieces of wood lengthwise or crosswise.

Although more time-consuming, dowels are a better choice for joinery requiring extra shear strength than biscuits can give. 

wooden dowels

Examples are edge-joining tabletops or shelving boards. Instead of needing the extra amount of holding power that dowels deliver, biscuit joints typically suffice due to today’s effective adhesives.

When it comes to selecting the right joinery method for a project, both biscuit and dowel joints offer advantages. Biscuits provide some more strength without compromising alignment, while dowels generally result in higher levels of strength. 

Depending on your needs and preferences, either of the two joints can be suitable; just pick the one that best suits your specific application!

What’s the Strongest Wood Joint?

The mortise and tenon joint is the strongest joint connection available. Mortise and tenon joints have been used for centuries in furniture-making, cabinet building, and other carpentry projects requiring a robust bond that can withstand heavy loads.

The least strong wood joints are the butt joints, which consist of two workpieces placed one on top of another with nothing more than nails, screws, or glue to hold them together. 

book case joined with dowels

While easy and suitable for both inside and outside use, a butt joint lacks strength as it can easily splinter apart.

In What Way Can You Make Strong Wood Joints?

Dowel joints are among the strongest form of joinery for wood. They consist of drilling holes into mating pieces and inserting a dowel peg that extends out at least two inches from each material, ensuring tight-fitting joint assembly when securely glued in place.

See Also: Mortising and Straight Router Bit Comparison


As a woodworker, having the skills to use different materials and joinery techniques can make your job easier. Biscuit joints provide seamless alignment and strength, while dowel jointing allows for greater accuracy when fastening small components together. 

When comparing biscuits vs. dowels, it’s crucial to get acquainted with both choices and select the one that aligns best with your project’s specific requirements.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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