After a little more than a week of use, I am happy with my Dowelmax. It took me some time to decide that the Dowelmax was something that I wanted. I first heard about it four years ago and, at that time, I put it on my long “tools to investigate in the future” list.
Then early in 2007 I did a lot of research on both Festool’s new Domino and the Dowelmax deciding that I wanted to get one or the other. Not only did I read about them, but I tried them. I have a friend who let me try out his Dowelmax briefly and a group of Hafele Canada reps came to my shop where they demonstrated the Domino and other tools in the Festool line to about 20 of my fellow woodworkers. In the end, I decided that:
_ -both the Domino and the Dowelmax are very accurate, well designed, and well made
_ -the Dowelmax is at least as easy to use as the Domino
I was sure that either one would do the job for me and that I would be happy no matter which I acquired. Since the Dowelmax is about one third the price of the Domino and since it made in Canada rather than Germany, this made my decision easy. The Dowelmax went right to the top of the tools that I would like for Christmas.
My wife, Margaret, called Jim Lindsay at Dowelmax in Vancouver, had a long chat, and ordered the Dowelmax, and I opened it Christmas morning. I experimented with many different test joints and they all worked well. Then last weekend, I did my first real project –attaching a solid oak face frame for a display cabinet to a oak plywood carcass. 32 dowels spread over 13 feet had to be in the right place for a single glue-up.
They were in the right place and the face frame fits very well.
As part of my research, I spent a couple of hours looking at the DVD where Jim illustrates how to use the Dowelmax. At one point My 5 year old grandson, Ethan, was in the room with me and wanted to know what I was watching. When I told him it was about a tool that helped joining pieces of wood together, he said that he wanted to watch. I thought that he would listen and watch for about 30 seconds but, no he watched and entire segment and got right into what Jim was showing. Here for example, you can see that Ethan is using his hands to simulate what Jim's hands are doing on the DVD.
As you might gather from this, Ethan is quite interested in woodworking and he spends a lot of time with me in my shop.
Before closing, I thought that some people might be interested in a simple jig I built to help set the drill collar to appropriate depth. I found that, with my face frame, I needed to drill holes at depths of 3/8”, ¾”, and 1-1/8” and that, having only one drill bit and collar, I was switching back and forth. This was tedious to measure each time, so I made the set of measuring bocks shown in the picture below:
The Dowelmax documentation does not say much at all about depth setting. Under Tips in the booklet shipped with product, it mentions briefly that different depths must be set sometimes. I have been in contact with them and they do plan to say more about this in a soon to be published update of the booklet.