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Pro Tip: Don't use 1/4 Pine dowels from HD

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Forum topic by Underdog posted 04-20-2018 12:51 PM 678 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Underdog

1189 posts in 2181 days


04-20-2018 12:51 PM

I’ve been putting together nine Model T cars/trucks from Norm Marshall’s “Great American Wooden Toy Book”.
I’d started with some 1/4” Birch dowels from Ace Hardware, and they were a pretty consistent diameter, and ROUND.

When I ran out, I stopped at HD and picked up some 1/4” Pine dowels.

What a frustrating exercise in futility! First of all, the dowels weren’t round AT ALL, they were OVAL shaped! Second, the hard, pitch filled annual rings make it nearly impossible to sand to anything like a consistent round. So the first couple of times I tried to peg the fenders on, the dowel got stuck, and broke if I tried to pull it back out. I wound up pounding them out with a punch and hammer. If they didn’t get stuck, then the oval shape just does not fill the round hole correctly, and I had to use some wood putty to fill the holes…
ARG.

I went over to Lowes and got serveral 1/4” beautifully round Poplar dowels last night. And they were a pleasure to use.

Lesson learned. Don’t use oval shaped dowels made out of Pine.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA


10 replies so far

View doubleDD's profile

doubleDD

7703 posts in 2189 days


#1 posted 04-20-2018 12:56 PM

I agree with this problem. I’ve seen this at a few different stores. I learned my lesson like you the hard way. Now I carefully choose each one I purchase.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

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Knockonit

454 posts in 348 days


#2 posted 04-20-2018 01:04 PM

I”Ve found just about anywhere you buy dowels you have to look them over real well, seems the quality of roundness and smoothness is lacking. I usually buy at rockler or wood workers, and they too on occassion have crappy dowels, especially some of the hardwood ones.

haven;t purchased any from hd or lowes, or ace, will definetly take a look next time
thru.
thanks
Rj

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GR8HUNTER

4725 posts in 858 days


#3 posted 04-20-2018 02:42 PM

next time take your drill bit gauge along to store with you that’s what i do different manufactures have different size cutters …GOOD LUCK :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

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Woodknack

12369 posts in 2526 days


#4 posted 04-20-2018 02:43 PM

Luckily I haven’t run into oval dowels but I take pocket calipers to measure because some stores sell metric as inch sizes and they are too small. It’s obvious with calipers though. I might drill a dowel plate and start making my own.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Vince's profile

Vince

1153 posts in 3575 days


#5 posted 04-20-2018 04:01 PM

I get my dowels from Woodcraft and they have always been round

-- Vince

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MrUnix

6935 posts in 2345 days


#6 posted 04-20-2018 04:47 PM

I got my last batch of 3/16” dowels from the local Chinese take out place :)

Turns out their chop sticks were exactly 3/16” and perfectly round (except for the last inch or so where it tapers to a point). I needed 44 2” pieces for a bi-plane baby mobile I’m making for my daughter who is expecting, and they fit the bill perfectly… and the price was right (free)!

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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Steve Peterson

391 posts in 3228 days


#7 posted 04-20-2018 08:10 PM

Buying dowels at either of the big boxes around here is a crap shoot. Most appear to have been cut from green wood and left to shrink and warp. Finding a straight one is nearly impossible.

Every once in a while there will be a fresh shipment with a few good ones and I try to stock up. They are cheap enough to buy several even without any plans for them.

-- Steve

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Rick S.

10571 posts in 3178 days


#8 posted 04-20-2018 11:51 PM



next time take your drill bit gauge along to store with you that s what i do different manufactures have different size cutters …GOOD LUCK :<))

- GR8HUNTER

Good idea Tony. Thanks.

Rick

-- (Rick S.)... "Don't Worry About What People Think! They Don't Do It Very Often Anyway!"

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Underdog

1189 posts in 2181 days


#9 posted 04-21-2018 12:32 AM



Buying dowels at either of the big boxes around here is a crap shoot. Most appear to have been cut from green wood and left to shrink and warp. Finding a straight one is nearly impossible.

I’ve heard that one reason dowels aren’t round is that they have been created using a molder- using two half round knives that must line up perfectly. And naturally the the “round” is only as good as the setup guy or the operator. And from experience, I can tell you that there are a lot of operators/setup folks who don’t care too much about what comes out of the other end of the molder.


Every once in a while there will be a fresh shipment with a few good ones and I try to stock up. They are cheap enough to buy several even without any plans for them.

- Steve Peterson

Good tip. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m looking at dowels.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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Pjonesy

248 posts in 972 days


#10 posted 04-23-2018 03:27 AM

I had the same problem and that is why I came up with my solution on how to make perfectly round dowel with my router. I did do a blog on this a while ago and also put a short video on youtube showing how it is done.The good thing about making your own is you can make them out of the timber of your choice.
So far I have made dowels this way ranging in size from 3/32” to 3/4”
Here is the link to my blog http://lumberjocks.com/Pjonesy/blog/97970 unfortunately the pictures are no longer available because photobucket want to charge me a fee to use their site now.
This is the link to youtube to see it working. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xb-RftuBdE

-- Peter New Zealand

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