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Re-usable, Economical And VERY accurate Baseboard alignment Dowels
We’ve often looked at alignment dowels offered to modelers and most have been based on the classic pattern makers dowel, which uses three screws to secure the dowel and socket. That raised an eyebrow as:
- they are really too expensive and...
- They are actually very hard to use… Patternmakers are highly skilled artisans and use either non-grained materials or specially chosen very fine-grained timber, not the much lower quality coarser timber generally sold in DIY stores, so getting proper alignment into grained timber with that form of dowel is nearly impossible for the amateur carpenter.
We therefore set out to create something that was built really well, economical, accurate and easy to use. This is the result:
Our dowels are computer-designed to mate perfectly and made from a hard, durable alloy. Tolerances are very tight and the male and female mate precisely unlike similar items sold for furniture which are very sloppy. They are anodized to give protection for long life and are very, very easy to install properly first time.
For the average layout, we recommend one pair per 300~350mm of width and each joint will usually need two pairs of dowels.
The actual spacing depend a little on rigidity of materials but even the best material moves over time if not supported so if the boards are wider than say 6~700mm, OR if there is a lot of track to keep perfectly aligned… then add a third set for best results!
The Dowels are sold as follows:
- Starter pack - part # DCB-BDKit
- This contains two pairs of dowels and a set of the drills necessary to install them properly. For those who already have a full tool kit, and so do not need the added drills… the included drills are:
- 19mm Spade bit (for the flange area)
- 13mm spade bit (for the Barrel)
- 3mm drill (for the pilot hole)
DCB-BDKit - 2 pairs of Alignment Dowels & all drills
Dowel pack - part # DCB-DWL
This pack contains four pairs of dowels and no drills.
DCB DWL - 4 pairs of Alignment Dowels
Installation is better done after laying the wooden track-bed but before laying the track. Take your time to get this right and you will have perfectly aligned track every time.
- lightly clamp the boards together with at least two clamps so that they are touching properly but not totally rigid.
- Now fix or clamp a piece of flat, straight timber at least 300mm long across the joint where tracks will cross - if multiple tracks cross, use at least two of these as they will guarantee that top surfaces are properly aligned. If you can’t clamp, temporarily screw them firmly in place with 2 screws per side.
- Tighten up the clamps that hold the two boards together.
- Decide where each Dowel should be. On a 600mm wide board we recommend 100~150mm” in from each side, and about 50mm from the top of the board end material. This will be where we drill the pilot holes... so be accurate.
- Also mark two other positions about 75mm away from the Dowel marks and a little lower down. These will be for securing bolts and can be anywhere you like that will give easy finger and tool access to tighten / remove as needed.
- Holding the drill properly at 90 degrees to the surface, referring to the marks you have made, drill pilot holes at each position - go right through BOTH boards using a 3mm drill.
- Separate the boards. You can now drill the counter-bore for the face of the dowel. Using the 19mm spade bit, carefully drill the outer face of each board about 3mm deep– Just enough for the flat face of the dowel.
- Once the two counter-bores are done, you can drill for the shank of the dowels. Again make sure the drill is at right angles to the board faces and drill right through the board.
- Drill the remaining holes for the securing bolts. Make these about 1mm larger than the bolts you have chosen so they are an easy fit… there is no longer any need for these bolts to fit snugly as all they’ll do in future is hold the boards together… no point in making things harder than they need to be!
- Install the dowels. Tap them into place (We also add a wee bit of PVA or similar glue to the ribs on the barrel just to hold them firmly—they will stay put and still be able to be removed at a later date if you do this.
- That’s it!... Fit the boards together, add the securing bolts and run a finger across the joint. If its less than perfect, use a power sander to give you a perfect board to board transition, and your baseboards are ready to go!