Cheap dowels... grrrrr....

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Forum topic by MalcolmLaurel posted 164 days ago 435 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MalcolmLaurel's profile


210 posts in 255 days

164 days ago

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


2869 posts in 1119 days

#1 posted 164 days ago

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


216 posts in 1238 days

#2 posted 164 days ago

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

View MalcolmLaurel's profile


210 posts in 255 days

#3 posted 164 days ago

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


7425 posts in 2279 days

#4 posted 164 days ago

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


1348 posts in 815 days

#5 posted 164 days ago

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

1253 posts in 580 days

#6 posted 164 days ago

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

good luck

View lepelerin's profile


321 posts in 957 days

#7 posted 164 days ago

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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