Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Rocky Mountains, USA
It suspect it will depend on what you mean by "precise", and to no small degree on the diameter and length of the "dowel"
With a bit of practice and a sharp skew it's possible to turn a cylinder perhaps to within a thousandth of an inch or so, if it's not too skinny and not too long, but the task becomes rapidly more difficult as the diameter decreases and the length increases.
A 2" diameter dowel 6" long is one thing.
A 1/2" diameter dowel 18" long is a whole different critter.
In general, a freehand technique capable of surprising accuracy is to line up the tool rest absolutely parallel to the lathe bed, then by gripping the tool consistently it can be used it to register the tool position for the final light cuts.
Last edited by 9thousandfeet; 07-10-2015 at 06:56 PM.