Understanding cross dowels made easier

I was at my cousin’s during the weekend trying to help him with 6 dining chairs that had broken. He had bought 4 replacement steel chairs and yet was looking at means to repair the existing chairs.  Fortunately for him, only the joining screw hardware was broken which made it a lot easier to fix the issue. At this juncture, I thought it made sense to write about the hardware that is used to make flat pack ready-to-assemble furniture. Note : Most furniture in India, particularly dining chairs and tables, that are delivered and installed at home free of charge is made of these screws, called CROSS DOWELS

Allen key cross dowels are much like the regular bolt and nut, except that they are designed to look more elegant. The name “Allen key” comes from the fact that it was originally manufactured by Allen Manufacturing company. The cross dowels serve the same function as nails or screws. However, they can be easily removed from / put back into the wooden surfaces making it ideal for knock down furniture.

Cross Dowel
Allen Key Cross Dowel
Fixing cross dowels is quite simple and all that it requires is a pilot hole drilled through both the wooden surfaces that are being fixed. This pilot hole will house the screw / bolt. For the nut, another hole is required that is drilled across the surface of one of the wooden substrate. This hole will run perpendicular to and directly across the earlier pilot holes drilled.

Cross dowel installation
How to install cross dowels
As illustrated below, the screw is driven through the pilot holes "a" and "b", while the nut is placed through the hole "c". As the screw is tightened through the nut, it brings the wooden surfaces together and holds them tight and secure. And naturally, unlike screws and nails, it can obviously be seen that the bolt is easier to remove and fix as needed.

Knock down furniture
Cross Dowel Installation
Most furniture that is home delivered and then installed at home is ready to assembly furniture and is built using these cross dowels. Don't believe me ? Just go across to your dining room and check out for the allen key heads.

Ready to assemble chairs
Knock down dining chairs
I know this is kind of a heavily technical post. Nonetheless, thought it is a very useful tip as most households have flat pack furniture and there may be a need in the near future to fix a broken chair. If you did like this post, remember to leave me a comment.

- Somu 
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  1. Oh! so, it's called cross dowel!

    thanks for posting this info. although i can easily figure out the way a piece of furniture is constructed, i find it very difficult to procure the necessary hardware as i do not know proper names. if a salesman can understand my drawings in the air then it's good, otherwise i often return home empty handed.

  2. Hi Criminal... Glad you now know it is called a cross dowel... I knew how the hardware looked. But never knew what it was called. I remember the time when I used to google to figure out the right term for it... Even today, when I walk into a hardware store (in Chennai that is), cross dowel is something they do not understand. I always take a sample with me for reference. Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you around again.

  3. Where can i buy cross dowels in India?

    1. HI Rahul, check out at the hardware store. If not you can check out any tools shop around your area. I could not find it in any of the local hardware stores in Chennai. I was told I have to go to Parrys corner, which is like a whole sale market, to find it. Since it is the other extreme of the city, I havent bothered to go there yet.


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