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I am building porch railing, and I'm considering using dowels to attach the pickets so that no nailing is required.

For 2x2 pickets:

  • What size dowel stock should I use?
  • How long should each dowel pin be?
  • How tight should they fit into the hole?
  • Should I glue the dowel pins at all?

Also, dowel stock is available in oak and pine. Oak costs twice as much, but is it going to do significantly better in an outdoor application? I am pre-priming and painting every piece of lumber.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

To answer your last question - oak will last significantly longer than pine. It can be left untreated and will harden.

If you do use oak then dowels will be the ideal fixing mechanism as metal, particularly iron, will stain the wood.

See the answer to this question on dowel sizes for what size dowel to use.

They should be quite tight and if you get it right, there'll be no need to glue them.

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