Everything in the shop has gone perfectly- the pieces are cut, sanded, trimmed and ready for assembly. Awww, nuts! You’re short on dowels, or you don’t have the right size.
This would normally call for the project to come to a halt as you get cleaned up, jump in the truck and head for the DIY store. Perhaps they have the dowels you need, perhaps not. Perhaps a local craft store has them, maybe.
Save yourself this headache by making your own custom dowels for your projects and never be short again.
Use your router. Cut a piece of small, square stock and a round over bit the size of the dowel you need. Gently trim each side, beginning and stopping about an inch from the end. This allows you to retain control of the piece while moving a flat work piece on the table.
When all four sides are rounded, sand and cut it to the lengths you need.
It’s a unique approach to saving everything- the cornerstone of repurposing.
Take a piece of heavy scrap metal and drill various size holes in it. These holes should be the same sizes as the dowels you need. If you don’t have a drill press or metal bits, a machine shop can drill them for you.
When a dowel is needed, keep in mind they’re generally made of soft wood. Take a scrap piece and cut it square to the size of dowel you need. For example, cut a ¾” square piece for a ¾” dowel. Clamp the metal piece horizontally in a workbench.
Take the scrap and hold it over the appropriate hole. Pound the piece through the hole with a mallet. And there you have it, instant dowels.
This method is old. It’s been around since before power tools. (Yikes!) It’s a little labor-intensive, but it does work.
Cut your square stock to the size of the dowel you need. Clamp it on the worktable either horizontally or vertically. With a wood rasp, remove the four edges. Switch to a wood file and begin shaping the edges to a round shape. Sand smooth and cut into desired lengths.
Of course, this will require a little skill and effort, but it does produce dowels.
If you have a lathe, fire it up. This is a perfect method to make dowels. Cut your square blank to the size of dowel needed, make a cross in the ends and mount in the lathe.
Adjust your speed to the hardness of the wood. Use the appropriate tools to shape your dowel. Remove from lathe, sand and cut into desired lengths.
Any of these four methods will produce custom dowels for your project. If you don’t posses one of the power tools mentioned, use a different method.
Notes to consider:
· Always follow the safety guidelines of any power or hand tools. Wear the appropriate gear.
· This article assumes the reader knows how to properly set up and use the hand and power tools mentioned in this article.
Source: American Woodworker Editors, “Make Your Own Dowels,” American Woodworker Website, 7 October 2009
Source: Staff Video, “Easy Custom Dowels,” Woodsmith Tips Website, no date given