We woodworkers all picked old-timey advice from whoever taught us the basics of the craft. You know, adages like “Measure twice, cut once”? One I often heard is, “It’s all about the joints.” Now there are about as many joint types as there are species of wood, but the best kinds don’t use nails or screws. A doweled joint is a fairly simple method of building strong joints without extra fasteners: simply drill a hole in each side of the joint, insert a dowel, and glue the two sides together.
I said “simply.” I must’ve been kidding…
Lining up holes on the two pieces to be joined a doweled joint is no picnic, and doing it well requires hard work and maybe a touch of artistry. There are a couple of ways to make this task easier, though. One’s a doweling jig, and another is the Best Way 25860 Dowel Center Set. A set is one pair each of 4 common dowel sizes (1/4, 5/16, 3/8 and 1/2 inch diameter) of centering pins. A pin is a short cylinder the same diameter as a standard dowel, which has a little collar to keep it from sliding completely into a drilled hole. At the center there’s a sharp cone-shaped projection. The pins are made of plated steel; and are nice and hard so they'll stay sharp.
You use dowel centers by drilling your holes in one side of the joint and slipping in the proper size centers. Line up the other side of the joint and press the two sides together. Those sharp points will transfer the dowel locations from the drilled piece to the other half of the joint. Then you “just” drill a set of holes in the second workpiece with your drill press.
Dowel centers are good for settings where jigs don’t perform well, like joints that fall in the center of large items or for repairs on non-square items. The only problem I’ve noticed with them is that they’re so little they have a tendency to disappear.
Since a set only includes two of each size; you might want to get two sets, since two dowel pins aren’t always enough. Best Way also sells them in single-size sets with four in a package.