Choosing Between Dowel Rods and Biscuits for Door Joints
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Q: I recently had to repair an exterior wood storm door and thought it was a perfect excuse to try a biscuit joiner. I disassembled the door and found that it was held together with hardwood dowels. After replacing the dowels, I was wondering if there is any rule of thumb as to when to use dowels or biscuits.

Applying wood banding to plywood with biscuits Biscuits work well for applying wood banding to plywood, but don't work as well for high shear strength applications.

A: I’d look at a couple of things. Are you trying to reinforce the joint or simply align the parts? Because of the deep penetration you can get by inserting long dowels, they’ll provide more joint shear strength than biscuits. My primary application for biscuits is as alignment aids. However, dowels can be much fussier to work with. You can’t beat the side-to-side adjustability and ease of installation with biscuits.

A second consideration is the size of the parts you’re assembling. Even the #0 biscuit — the smallest conventional size — needs a slot about 2" long. This won’t work on a face frame with 1-1⁄2"-wide rails. The more recent face frame biscuits, and other specialty sizes, can help solve this problem, provided you’ve got a machine that can cut the smaller slots they require.

posted on October 1, 2008 by George Vondriska
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2 thoughts on “Choosing Between Dowel Rods and Biscuits for Door Joints”

  • Judy

    I need 2 dowels 16" long , with center radios 3.3/4"
    tapers to 2.3/4" radios or 1/2" at the ends. For bar stools. I can send you a picture or a sample .
    Can you help?

  • Genell Renshaw
    Genell Renshaw March 31, 2015 at 2:41 am


    The dowels we carry online wouldn't work for your project. It sounds like you need something custom milled or you might want to invest in a tapering jig if you need a large quantity of these.

    If you would like help figuring out what options you have feel free to call us at 1-8oo-260-9663 or shoot us an email at

    Best of luck on your bar stool project!

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