I’m a big fan of Woodpeckers’ tools, and own quite a few of their layout and measuring pieces. I’ll probably be ordering a Woodpeckers router table setup from them sometime in the next 6 months.
You can find our past Woodpeckers tool coverage here.
They have a One Time Tool program where unique one-off designs, often problem-solvers, are made available to woodworkers in a preorder program. Once the preorder window closes, the tools ship out a few months later after sufficient machining time is found for the tools.
Some of Woodpeckers’ One Time Tools have evolved over the years, some are simply repeated, and some have yet to be available a second time.
I am generally defensive of Woodpeckers’ pricing. Their tools are often highly functional and built to high quality standards. They’re made in the USA, and in small batches. Producing these One Time Tools in smaller quantities means that certain costs are distributed over a fewer number of products.
That all said, their newest One Time Tool, The Ultimate Doweling Jig, is way too expensive. They say that the Jig’s on Steroids, but I’m thinking that this also applies to the price.
I am reluctant to start the discussion by being so unsupportive of the pricing, but the high pricing has really dominated my attention more than the features or functionality.
What Does it Do?
As a doweling jig, this new system is designed to make it easier for woodworkers to drill holes precisely where they need them.
Woodpeckers’ site shows how the jig can be used to place dowels in complex ways. There’s no way to achieve these results with many of the simpler and inexpensive jigs on the market.
It’s got beefy clamping jaws, and can be used for centered or offset dowel placement.
What Else Does it Feature?
It has an adjustable end stop and auxiliary work support.
An adjustable edge guide.
A beautifully effective hole spacing adjustment (you need to watch the video to see this).
It can be used to drill shelf support holes.
- 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ drill bushings and guide pins
- Metric bushings are available separately for $60 per size kit
- Edge guide
- Adjustable stop
- Extension rods
This is the main product intro video:
And this is a new “Behind the Design” video:
Pricing and Availability
$600 for the Ultimate Doweling Jig in a Case
$640 for the Ultimate Doweling Jig in a Systainer Style CASE
5mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10 mm bushing sets: $60 each
The ordering window ends 8/29/2016.
Shipping ETA: Feb 2017
More Info(via Woodpeckers)
Compare(DowelMax System via Amazon)
There are a lot of parts and pieces to this product, each requiring machining and finishing. From the design video, the clamps are made using Acme rods.
I can appreciate that this is a product designed around a purpose, with seemingly no compromises. It costs what it costs.
But $600 for a doweling jig seems like a lot of money.
And what if you want to drill 5/16″ holes? 5/8″? 3/16″? You can’t – it only comes with 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ bushing sizes. Smaller, larger, or intermediate sizes simply aren’t an option.
I have a project coming up where I need 5/16″ holes drilled down the middle of 2″ stock. 5/16″ through-holes, and then counterbores for socket head screws. If I had this jig, I would still need something else.
I have several other tool storage accessory projects coming up where I’ll need to drill centered and off-centered holes. I have a simple doweling jig, Woodpeckers’ center gauge plus doweling jig components (I didn’t want to pay extra for a bigger case), and I also splurged on a Bridge City Tools drilling jig.
The Bridge City Tools jig was partially inspired by an interest in checking out their quality. But it was also done with the fact that Bridge City Tools’ products have high resale value. When I’m done, if I want to recoup the investment, I could probably sell it for near what I purchased it for.
Bridge City Tools operates on a batch production process, similar to Woodpeckers’ One Time Tool process, but with waiting lists and the knowledge that many of their tools will be available again sometime in the future.
I can definitely see the utility in this Ultimate Doweling Jig. This jig looks amazing, there’s no doubt about that. And some of the features are certainly clever, such as how the dowel spacings are adjusted quickly and easily all at once. But if you ask me, $600 can be better stretched a lot of other different ways.
If this was priced lower, or was better equipped to be a Bridge City Tools-like Ultimate Drilling Jig, I’d have ordered one on Day 1.
I’m not really seeing the advantages of this aside from the variable spacing. The Jessem and Dowelmax jigs do effectively the same critical functions as doweling jigs: They register off one face and have repeatable spacing.
Outside of that, shelf pin holes? Where’s the repeatability on this? There’s no hard 32mm stop. Otherwise you might as well just build a quick jig that has your set spacing for consistency.
That and the price of this already hits Festool Domino tier pricing. The Jessem and Dowelmax options don’t even hit that price point but they do the doweling function just as well as the Woodpeckers jig. One could argue about spacing as well, given the Jessem and Dowelmax have preset distances to optimize strength, whereas the Woodpecker’s variable spacing function… I would question the usefulness of even beyond just shelf pin holes.
I agree I have a jessem, and it is a great tool.
I would also purchase a Domino before purchasing this jig, and it has even more uses…
I agree that, typically, I think Woodpeckers One Time Tool prices are quite high but reasonable given the quality and capabilities (regardless of whether I see myself getting use out of it). Their doweling jigs haven’t been of any interest to me, but it’s easy to see what a well thought-out design this is; the “behind the design” video endorses that. But, yeah, the price is out of line, IMO. I’d think $300-400 would be more reasonable.
Given all of the iterations they went through, though, I wonder if this project simply got away from them. “If we just change this, it’ll be ready!” And then the realized a different flaw that really had to be fixed. Repeat the process a few times until they get it right. Finally, satisfied, they did the math and realized just how much they’d have to charge to meet their margins.
Also, since they’ve had some other doweling jigs available before I wonder if they looked at the market and how many they could sell, and realized that their would be fewer purchasers because of so many other sales. Further raising the price to cover all costs.
What he said ^^^
Buy a Festool Domino if you are considering this.
It’s a great idea in theory – but again excution is just not there.
why aren’t there more bushing options for other holes – why are they only metric?
is it made well – sure looks like it – couldn’t you make it out of steel cheaper? wouldn’t be as pretty right.
Thing is people will buy it no question.
Your last statement is probably true. And usually it is the people that won’t actually use the jig that will buy it, or they won’t know how to use it so they’ll just stick it on the shelf and let it gather dust. Case in point, an older friend of mine bought the top of line GoPro, said he couldn’t figure out how to use it, so he never did and to this day it sits in its box.
I agree with all the previous statements.
I own quite a number of Woodpecker tools, I know I am paying a premium, but I enjoy using premium tools and they make my jobs easier. However at $600 I would NEVER even consider this jig. Never. That pricing is absolutely ludicrous. As already mentioned, there are many other tools in that price range that would be far more productive and useful. Heck, my most expensive miter saw with (free) stand was less than that and it gets used day in and day out to accomplish amazing woodworking and make me money.
I don’t know, maybe Woodpeckers is just getting a little too proud of themselves.
I assume that there is a pretty decent profit margin built into the tool. When they first announced it – they did not include the 1/2 inch guide bushings – but then added them on at no additional cost in response to potential buyer comments. A very nice gesture – but probably their profit margin is still pretty good.
I too would not buy one – already have a Dowelmax which is used very infrequently since I purchased my Festool Domino XL. While $600 does not come close to the amount I have invested in the Domino machine, a full range of cutters, add-ons from Seneca Woodworking and RTS Engineering – I agree with others that $600 is a bit too pricey for this jig considering the alternatives.
BTW – Woodpeckers had made another pricey One-Time-Tool to work with the Domino machines:
I saw the tool in an email a while back and immediately deleted it. I am a proud owner of many Woodpecker tools and possess several in my shop and truthfully the measuring tools are phenomenal but this is much like the guide rail one time tool. The price far outweighs the benefit for my small shop.
Anyone else getting tired of being flooded every month with advertisements for Woodpeckers One Time Tools from every possible vendor?
I’ve bought few in the past and found some to be marginally useful but not worth the price. Now I refuse to even look at them because of their spammy marketing practices.
At least ToolGuyd gives some useful analysis and user comments on these tools.
PS. Love my Domino – even though it was more money it’s a much better value.
Woodpeckers has simply lost their mind on pricing, just like Bridge City, Snap On, Matco and a few others. Somebody must be buying their stuff. They’re all still in business!
I wonder if some people will buy it just to show. The see my toy costs more than yours
I haven’t had a need for a tool like this but as I’m closer to retirement I am thinking more about woodworking tools. But at this price I don’t think I’m interested in any projects that I would have the need for a tool like this. WAY to PRICEY for me !!!
Is that a typo? 600 dollars for a doweling jig? I know that “Woodpeckers” is a high end company that most people can’t even think about but this is a joke I hope. 6oo buck? Wow
I don’t necessarily think that Woodpecker’s sets out to price-gouge on some of their one-time tools. They likely have a method to set a price based on their development costs plus what they calculate production costs will be on a small run and an acceptable profit. Maybe if they estimate that demand will be low (say for this dowelling jig) then the price will necessarily be higher than for a better selling item. In any event – this dowelling jig set may be priced OK based on costs to develop and produce – but its is still way too expensive based on my perception of value – but then again I drive a Honda not a Bentley.
that’s why I made my comment about the making something out of steel instead.
I don’t think they go out of their way to be extra expensive but they sure don’t bother with trying to lower the price either. you don’t have to anodize the AL – you could use a cheaper material with equal success – etc.
but – they do make quality pieces – I won’t say they don’t but you could make quality and be cheaper.
to be fair… this is what… maybe a lb of aluminum? material costs are pretty much irrelevant. Perhaps if it was cast instead of machined…
It has alot of little pieces, and I am guessing none of them are off the shelf, so if you want 20 some parts machined in a run of only 500 or so… its gonna cost a pretty penny.
Ive seen a few of these one time tools that seem nice, even if I am too cheap to consider buying. But this is too much like a bread maker, too specific, too limited.
I have some doubts about this. I’ve seen products come back at substantially higher prices and it seems to coincide with their new facility. One example is the 7″ bevel gauge offered last month at $110. In 2012 this was offered at $70. I believe the design is unchanged.
I continue to purchase from them, but on a smaller scale. I have no problem paying for a tool that’s functional and aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes I’m finding better alternatives at the prices they are asking or essentially the same thing for far less.
People who complain about items made overseas can’t have it both ways. Frankly, I don’t even think this item is expensive at all for a limited run product made with American labor.
Smartphones cost this and my family buys new ones about every two years.
Definitely agree with you there.
I use my tools for my livelihood and hate it when a tool breaks or loses it’s functionality sooner than latter. It means more costs purchasing a new one and downtime.
We all hate cheap tools made overseas and complain about the loss of American jobs but when it comes to paying up people are aghast at the costs of a tool produced stateside and opt for the cheaper alternative that has been outsourced.
Geez. When the fark did it become so expensive just to work wood? While I’m sure this jig is built to last a lifetime, it’s price does not reflect it’s usefulness.
I can see how they justify the costs. The number of iterations they went through is a lot of R & D time and effort.
Most consumers only see the final product and use that to make a judgement on pricing without realizing the work that went into thinking up the item and then bringing it into a tangible functional object. Things just don’t happen.
Sort of like the pharmaceutical companies inventing new drugs. The amount of time to R & D a new drug, get it tested and approved, and market it involves a lot of upfront investment and lost interest on capital.
The dowel spacing should have incremental positions that lock in place rather than a continuous range of positions. What happens if the bushes shift a small amount between doing the rail and stile. The dowel holes won’t line up. Looks like a great product but way too expensive to justify buying it.
John in Jax
This really rocked me backwards! I like quality, but there is no way I can in good conscience spend $600 for a doweling jig. I think they are aiming their marketing at folks who “just have to have the best” where best = most expensive. Shoot, I’ll go make my own jig(s) first. After all, we’re just trying to accurately place drill holes…