Pattern Makers Dowels

Posted by Alan on 26th April 2014 in Erik's Railway |

Pattern Makers Dowels are precision location devices originally used for the accurate alignment of two halves of a mould used for casting molten metal. These days, railway modellers use them to ensure that the boards of their layouts line up so that trains don’t derail when crossing joints.

Pattern Maker's Dowels, separate

The two parts of a set of pattern maker’s dowels, male and female, with three countersunk screw holes each

Pattern Maker's Dowels, joined

The two parts of a set of pattern maker’s dowels joined, showing the pip that is used to mark the second board for drilling.

These two images are the best I could find on the internet, and far better than anything I could take myself. They’re from Pete Degnan’s Blog¬†where he explains very well how to install them accurately. Trust me, it’s a right royal PITA if they’re even fractionally off. It’s as black and white as it working perfectly, or not at all.

How do I know this? Yep, you guessed it. I had to install mine twice. My advice? Follow Pete’s detailed instructions, not your instinct, or your father’s advice. It doesn’t matter how accurate you think you can measure something repeatedly, there’s no substitute for doing it once and cloning that.


  • Tony Scott says:

    Hi Alan
    I know it’s a fair while, but I saw a post of yours from 2014 about pattern makers dowels. I live in Australia and they are very hard to find the steel ones. Can you tell me who you obtained yours from please?

    • Alan says:

      Hi Tony

      Unfortunately not, as the supplier has long since gone out of business, and I’m no longer using them. To be clear, there was no dissatisfaction, just no need. The group I’m a member of using laser cut board kits with pre-drilled alignment holes, so the dowels were really superfluous. In addition, and this is the Law of Unintended Consequences, I’d purchased 1″ diameter dowels (or at least the mounting points) and these absolutely do not fit into a 25mm laser-cut hole!

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

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