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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How do you guys cut dowels? I've tried the drilled hole through a steel plate and the dowels came out very rough and oddly shaped.
 

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make dowels, or cut to length?
I've tried the drilled hole through a steel plate
that part is confusing... as i have seen guys make dowels by driving a wood square through a round hole in a steel plate to make dowels, is that what you are trying to do?

i make dowels on the router table, 4 passes with the a round over bit. made many that way... trick is if you need a 1/2" dowel, you need to start with a 0.500" x 0.500" square
 

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How do you guys cut dowels? I've tried the drilled hole through a steel plate and the dowels came out very rough and oddly shaped.
I make it easy, I don't use dowels. They offer little to no strength and have limited glue surface. I prefer M&T, or loose M&T.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am going to use 3/8" dowels to draw bore the mortise and tenons on my bench base.

Yes. I drilled a hole through a mild steel plate and reamed a wooden down through the plate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What is the benefit of making dowels vs. buying them or cutting round stock to length?
1. I don't need to leave the house and search out 3/8" hardwood dowels
2. I can learn this for the future
3. I can make them from any wood I want
4. I expect they are cheaper
 

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1. I don't need to leave the house and search out 3/8" hardwood dowels
2. I can learn this for the future
3. I can make them from any wood I want
4. I expect they are cheaper
Something to check next time I’m buying wood. I would think round stock is less expensive than square since its less material but I'm not sure.
 

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There are better dowel plates available than just the "Hole in a steel plate". You can also make a jig using a plane blade and a block of wood. (Like a pencil sharpener).
It can be difficult to find the right wood for a premade dowel (matching your work).
If it's for covering a fastener hole, try a plug cutter. Then you can match grain.
 

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I’ve had the same experience. I think the mistake I made was taking too big a bite. I drilled several slightly smaller holes and got a better result. How did you prep the stock? I would go with 1/4 square stock and round the corners off.

I’ve also tried chucking in a drill the dowel plate will burnish the surface.

I’ve made dowels on the router table. The trick is to leave about 1” of the ends square so it registers on table and doesn’t roll. Might be a bit sketchy for a 1/4” dowel?
 

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Veritas dowel cutters. Clamp the in the vice and then spin them with a drill.

One thing I have found is that a sharp blade is critical and the speed and feed rater is too. Otherwise you end up with some really mangy looking dowels.

I make them periodically and while it took me a while to get the hang of it I really do prefer to make my own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Both of these look like valid options. I need to check what size round over bits I have.
Thanks!
 

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Check out You Tube. I've seen several videos there that show how to make dowel cutters; some more complex than others. Most seem to be better than the "hole in steel plate" one.
 

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I don't do much with dowels. Store bought ones tend to be a metric size nowadays that don't fit well with imperial drill bit sizes and , at least in my experience, they tend to be as oval as they are round. Must be due to moisture issues they face being mostly manufactured and shipped from southeast Asia. The rare times I need a dowel, it's usually showing and made of walnut or some contrasting wood so I couldn't buy it anyway, at least not quickly . I cut a square piece of whatever on the tablesaw a bit bigger then the dowel size I need. Chuck it in the drillpress and , with a rough grit of sandpaper hand held, round it off untill it fits tightly (light hammer fit) in a predrilled hole in a piece of scrap. Not that hard , takes 5-10 minutes and a lot cheaper/faster then buying tooling that I'll rarely use again. I'd only tool up if you needed to make a lot of dowels on an ongoing basis, a few here and there then the drillpress or maybe the lathe, although that's more setup than it's worth. My penny and a half, and that's what it's worth. Best of luck.
 

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I've had pretty good success making 3/8 inch walnut dowels by drilling a series of holes in a piece of 1/4 inch steel. I cut the walnut to a little larger than 3/8 by 3/8 on the table saw, use a plane to knock off the edges a little and a pencil sharpener to make one end a little pointy. I generally start in a hole that is 2 or 3 sizes bigger than 3/8 and use a handheld drill to spin the stock through the hole, then go to the next size smaller and repeat the process until I get it to 3/8.

Drilling the steel, leaves a pretty sharp lip that cuts the wood well. I can generally reuse the larger holes several times but I drill a new 3/8 hole after making about 4 feet of doweling.

Also, the feed direction in important so the wood gets cut and doesn't split. Much the same as reading the grain to use a hand plane.
 

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Nope. The vendor/manufacturer starts with square stock and has to go one more step. So same amount of starting material, plus the cost of the next step.
While your logic is sound and makes perfect sense to me, one data point says you are incorrect. Square dowels are actually slightly more expensive than rounds...

Home Depot 1" round pine dowel = $5.75 for 48" or $0.119 per inch
Home Depot 1" square pine dowel = $4.84 for 36" or $0.134 per inch

Not sure why this would be the case, any ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
While your logic is sound and makes perfect sense to me, one data point says you are incorrect. Square dowels are actually slightly more expensive than rounds...

Home Depot 1" round pine dowel = $5.75 for 48" or $0.119 per inch
Home Depot 1" square pine dowel = $4.84 for 36" or $0.134 per inch

Not sure why this would be the case, any ideas?
Likely just sales volume and the 3' vs 4' sizes.
 
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