Dowel sizes and quality

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 10-20-2011 04:56 AM 2010 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 3073 days

10-20-2011 04:56 AM

I needed some 5/8 oak dowels to make some wooden pegs that would be used to hang things. I knew before I bought them that they would be too big to fit into a 5/8th hole and I was right. I’ve had this problem before.

My solution is to mount the 5” pieces of dowel into the chuck on my lathe and set up my 5/8” tenon cutter in a Jacob’s chuck in the tail stock. I can only clean up and correct about 2” of the dowel, but that is enough.

The amount of material that I shaved off varied, but some of the fatter pieces measured .65 (i.e. .025” bigger than they should be.

I appreciate the problem with expansion and contraction of wood as the season changes. However, I think this should be the contraction (skinny) time of year.

I also acknowledge that I just picked up these oak dowels at the local Menards. I assume there is better quality elsewhere, but when you need a dowel, you need a dowel and Menards is convenient.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

9 replies so far

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3433 days

#1 posted 10-20-2011 05:33 AM

I have found that a bull nose router bit will make super dowel rods. You can match the dowel to your project and you can also cut the dowel slightly smaller or larger than the hole diameter, thus you can custom fit the dowel.
Not for everyone, but it does produce a great dowel out of desired lumber.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3674 days

#2 posted 10-20-2011 05:53 AM

They save a lot of retooling costs sharpening the cutters a few extra times ;-)) Reminds me of about 10 years ago we could not get a rigid conduit nipple that a lock nut would screw onto. I’m not sure if the Chinese were saving wear and tear on their dies by barely scratching the surface of the pipe and calling it a thread or if the dies were totally worn out and they kept using them? :-(( Either way, I hope they got them all back and shoved where the sun never shines ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ksSlim's profile (online now)


1276 posts in 2888 days

#3 posted 10-20-2011 06:00 AM

Easy enough to mill your own utilizing scrap stock with appropriate round-over bit in router table.
Or you can resize off the shelf dowels using a steel plate drilled to exact size needed. Taper end to start through plate, apply mallet, presto proper size dowels.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3090 days

#4 posted 10-20-2011 06:12 AM

can you throw those 5” pieces in the chuck of your drill press and sand them down a little before putting them on your lathe and shaping them?

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 3034 days

#5 posted 10-20-2011 04:06 PM

Dependng on how long your dowel is, you can also get a washer with the right size hole in it and hammer it through. This will shave it off and will be the right size.

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2957 days

#6 posted 10-20-2011 07:00 PM

At least they were too big; I have cut dowels down three times and they were still too small.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View pintodeluxe's profile


5659 posts in 2812 days

#7 posted 10-20-2011 07:06 PM

That is one reason I went to square pegs. Easier to make and always fit correclty.
I have also encountered dowel variation with 1/4” pre-made dowels, but usually smaller than the stated size.
Sounds like you came up with a good solution.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2656 posts in 2920 days

#8 posted 10-20-2011 11:50 PM

I have hundreds of old drill bits of all sizes so I just drill the hole to match the dowel. Tapering would work well also.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2689 days

#9 posted 10-21-2011 04:22 AM

I usually make all my dowels with a roundover bit in the router table but ksSlims tip will work vey well to resize dowels quickly. Sanding never worked very well .

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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