Rounding Plane / Dowel Maker attempt #1: Wooden body

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Blog entry by llwynog posted 02-15-2012 09:23 PM 24979 reads 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Rounding Plane / Dowel Maker attempt series Part 2: The blade »

I own a die and tap to thread wood but the diameter is 3/4” and this is a dowel size I can’t find locally.
I have thus decided to try and build a rounding plane / dowel maker to create my own 3/4” dowels.

A rounding plane is is like a giant pencil sharpener with a cone shaped inlet and an outlet bored to the exact size of the desired dowel.
I never held such a tool in my hands and the only ressource I have is an old Fine Woodworking article I remember which gave 2 guidelines :
  • The cone base is roughly twice the diameter of the exit hole.
  • The blade is angled 75 degrees.

Before I record the details of the building process I want to say that I am fully aware that there are some alternatives to rounding planes (router jigs, lathe, or contraptions such as Mathias’ but I am a sucker for specialized hand tools and I would like to avoid using power tools for this task.

Here is the blank of wood that will be used for my (first) experiment :

On the picture you can see the layout lines. The exit hole has already been bored to the proper size (19mm) and a neighbour kindly turned the cone to the proper entry diameter (43mm) on his lathe. The cone shape is not as straight nor as perfect as it should but we will see later if this becomes an issue.

Now starting to saw the body at 75 degree angle (4 screw pilot holes were drilled before sawing to make registration easier) :

And continuing with a different saw as the first one was not deep enough (but ensured a more accurate start) :

Finally crosscutting to free the blade holder :

Here is the result with the body and the blade holder separated :

The blade holder needs to have a chunk removed to let the shavings come out. On the next picture, I kerfed the waste to make it easier to chisel out. (did not take a picture of the resulting chiseled out part but it will probably make it to some later stage pictures).

Ok, that’s it for the initial shaping of the woodent body. I hope the irregular cone shape will not jeopardize the tool’s usability.

Next post will be about the blade shaping.

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

10 comments so far

View SASmith               's profile


1849 posts in 2316 days

#1 posted 02-15-2012 09:49 PM

Very interesting. Looking forward to the next segment.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2444 days

#2 posted 02-15-2012 10:15 PM

:-) its a pencil scharpner you make … sort of

you can use a hollow side escapementplane too :-)

but ceep on coming with the next installment .. looking forward to it

take care

View Brit's profile


6345 posts in 2172 days

#3 posted 02-15-2012 10:45 PM

Great blog. I’m looking forward to the next installment. Love the saws too :-)

Can I ask how you made the tapered hole in the blank at the beginning?

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Sodabowski's profile


2301 posts in 2162 days

#4 posted 02-15-2012 10:48 PM

Been there done that but the crude way (two holes and a chisel with a clamp). Works nice, so yours will most certainly work very well.

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View canadianchips's profile


2196 posts in 2326 days

#5 posted 02-15-2012 11:13 PM

These are some of the toys I use when making threaded dowels.
I will be watching you build yours. I am always interested in home made tools.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Wayne's profile


196 posts in 1922 days

#6 posted 02-16-2012 04:36 AM

Cool! Ill be watching!

View llwynog's profile


287 posts in 1908 days

#7 posted 02-16-2012 06:09 PM

Thank you everyone for your interest.
I am making this up as I go along so I give no warranty that the final product will work/be usable…

Thank you especially Canadianchips for the pictures, I would love to have a close look at such tools.

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

View llwynog's profile


287 posts in 1908 days

#8 posted 02-16-2012 06:15 PM

@Andy : The blank was screwed on a lathe plate then bored to 3/4” diameter and the cone was free handed on the lathe. The side of the cone is decently straight but the junction between the truncated cone and the bored hole is not as crisp as it should. I am considering hand shaping it to correct the shape if this prevents the tool from operating successfully.

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

View stefang's profile


15491 posts in 2663 days

#9 posted 03-29-2012 05:49 PM

I have a method of making dowels that I learned many years ago from a Fine woodworking mag. reader’s tip. I blogged it as shown below. Cheap, quick, accurate and easy. I hope you like it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View llwynog's profile


287 posts in 1908 days

#10 posted 03-30-2012 05:44 AM

Thank you Mike,
Looks like a good technique for smaller dowels.
My goal with the rounding plane is to cut dowels of 3/4”(19mm) and more in diameter and these are sizes for which I do not own metal cutting drill bits so I cannot give it a try.

interesting technique to remember though.

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

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