I needed ¼-inch round dowels. Easy enough, right? Not really, because the dowels you buy at the home store are not round; they are shaped kinda…like a…well, just not round, but they are more like…well, out of round. Not quite good enough for what I needed. Besides, the dowels I can buy around here are made of about three different species: oak, walnut, and poplar. Another little problem: The dowels available at the home store are usually (OK, nearly always) slightly oversize; this is not good enough for what I needed.
So, the question is: What’s a guy to do? Or what’s a lady to do?
Answer: Make your own, using the same (as in “identical”) wood you use for your project.
If I need a ¼-inch dowel, I start with a long stick (black walnut, in this case) just under 5/16-inch thick. I cut this at the band saw. Then I use an inverted block plane to make it octagon-shaped:
The rounded tip of the blank above, and also the octagonal shape created with the block plane, make it simple to insert the tip in a jig. Using a cordless drill I run the blank through a little jig to make a perfectly round dowel — in this case, a ¼-inch dowel:
The technique I used available in the Rob Cosman DVD titled “Wood-Hinge Box” – clicking on the link and buying the DVD will help support my work on this blog, as I will get a small commission from my Woodcraft Affiliate.
From time to time, a dowel will break; as a result, it is wise to prepare extra dowels, just in case this happens (normally, about 1 in 5, or 2 in five break):
Also covered in the DVD: instructions to build a very simple jig to allow accurate cutting of the dowels, to keep the edges perfectly
An added bonus of this jig is that precise dowel lengths can be cut, to be used later:
The result: nice, clean cuts:
The following 1-minute and 12-second movie might suggest what this is all about:
I will continue work on this “stealth” project. Shhh — don’t want to give away any secrets.
— Al Navas