Cheap dowels... grrrrr....

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Forum topic by MalcolmLaurel posted 03-16-2014 10:37 PM 1149 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MalcolmLaurel's profile


300 posts in 1828 days

03-16-2014 10:37 PM

So I’m working on a used live edge slab that I got cheap at a flea market last year, destined to be a coffee table that I’ll probably keep for my own cabin. Had to plug a couple screw holes from whatever it was originally fastened to, so I drilled them out with a 5/8” Forstner bit. The plugs will show but it’s going to be a rustic table anyway. Yesterday I stopped by the local hardware store and bought a dowel to make the plugs, and being in a hurry I didn’t look at it closely. Got home and thought, “boy, this looks kinda green…”, yup, poplar, with that ugly greenish color. So today I went back out to the other local hardware store and bought another dowel, wood type unknown (“made in China”) but not green, and brought it home… and it falls right through the hole! I measured it, and it’s about .600” diameter. Grrrrr… now I gotta take time out during the work week to try to find a better piece at a more distant lumberyard or borg store… and I guess I oughta bring the caliper with me…

-- Malcolm Laurel -

7 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2692 days

#1 posted 03-16-2014 10:50 PM

so buy a plug cutter and make one, or better yet, take an old piece of scrap about the right size and using a piece of 3/16” steel you have drilled an appropriate hole through, attach the piece of wood to your hand held drill and drive it through the hole in your steel.

I haven’t bought dowels in 3 years, once I figured out that this was much easier and cost a lot less.

As for the difference between .6 and .68? Almost a 10th of an inch is a big difference. If it says China on it it’s probably metric.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 2812 days

#2 posted 03-16-2014 10:55 PM

+1 on the plug cutter, and I recommend the tapered plug cutters

View MalcolmLaurel's profile


300 posts in 1828 days

#3 posted 03-16-2014 10:57 PM

5/8 is .625, only .025 undersize, but still too much.

I don’t have a plug cutter, but making a plate to size it makes sense. For that matter, I think I have some 3/4” dowels, I don’t have a lathe but I could chuck it up in my mill and turn a short length down to the appropriate size.

-- Malcolm Laurel -

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3853 days

#4 posted 03-16-2014 11:03 PM

If you put a slight taper on the dowel you can stick it in the
hole and cut the narrow end off until it fits snug. Making a
plug to fit by hand is little more forgiving this way.

View shampeon's profile


1885 posts in 2388 days

#5 posted 03-16-2014 11:09 PM

The poplar will turn brown after a while. I have no idea if that’ll match your slab, but it might make sense to leave the poplar dowel in the sun for a few days.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2154 days

#6 posted 03-17-2014 12:24 AM

a few ways make your own dowels
with a chisel
with a BS
With a TS

good luck

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2530 days

#7 posted 03-17-2014 01:32 AM

make your own, get a piece of steel, drill the appropriate size hole, and bingo, you can make dowel to your liking.
I just made 90” of dowels for a project I am working on. I did not want to end up dealing with undersized, oval or whatever crap dowel the big box store sells you. As of now I won’t buy dowels. Easy and cheap to make.

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