Would you use stock 3/4" dowels or turn your own from Maple?

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Forum topic by Underdog posted 09-08-2014 09:52 PM 1126 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1207 posts in 2211 days

09-08-2014 09:52 PM

If you had a solid maple framework project that required about 120” of 3” long x 3/4” diameter dowels and needed to withstand a good deal of pressure (it’s a form for pressing sheetmetal), would you just buy stock 3/4” dowels from the hardware store or turn them from solid maple?
Why or why not?

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

15 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


19259 posts in 2032 days

#1 posted 09-08-2014 09:57 PM

Buy them, first of all I don’t have a lathe. Second round wood is round wood. It’s sort of akin to buying rough sawn or S4S wood. There’s nothing wrong with S4S. The only thing that would make me turn my own, if I had a lathe, is if I needed a particular wood species that I couldn’t buy. That being said, a friend makes all of his own at the router table. Maybe I’ll start making my own. Does that help? I bet not.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View hairy's profile


2780 posts in 3708 days

#2 posted 09-08-2014 10:10 PM

The dowels I have bought seem to run a little undersize, if that is an issue.

I don’t have a link, but Capt. Eddie ground the side of a wrench to cut,and size in one step. It is pretty sweet!

I agree about the router table, that would be faster than a lathe.

-- My reality check bounced...

View Wildwood's profile


2450 posts in 2310 days

#3 posted 09-08-2014 10:11 PM

Confuse do you need 120 each 3” long or do you need both 120” and 3” long x ¾” dowels?

Would buy them even if had to go on line to buy them.

-- Bill

View English's profile


660 posts in 1653 days

#4 posted 09-08-2014 10:27 PM

I would go to Woodcraft and get maple Dowel !!

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1856 days

#5 posted 09-08-2014 10:34 PM

Manufactured dowels are fine for most work but if you can split your own out of straight grain stock and either drive though a doweling plate or turn on a lathe you will end up with much stronger ones. It’s a matter of just how strong do you want those dowels to be and if they are worth the effort for making your own.

The key is to rive the blanks off of straight grain rough wood rather than cutting them off on a saw so you get completely straight grain that results in very strong dowels. Otherwise if you don’t think it’s worth riving them I would just buy them already made.

View Underdog's profile


1207 posts in 2211 days

#6 posted 09-08-2014 10:39 PM

To clarify:
I’m wondering if maple would be stronger than the stock dowels, or whether it doesn’t matter whether they’re made of poplar or whatever..

Also the final length of each dowel will be 3”. I need about 120” total dowel stock. I figure an hour and a half to turn 15 seven inch pieces using the wrench trick.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View CharlesA's profile


3342 posts in 1973 days

#7 posted 09-08-2014 10:43 PM

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View firefighterontheside's profile


19259 posts in 2032 days

#8 posted 09-08-2014 10:45 PM

Most places I go to have poplar and oak dowels. Have to go to hardwood supplier for anything else. For a 3” piece I think poplar will be plenty strong.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View shampeon's profile


1860 posts in 2359 days

#9 posted 09-08-2014 10:47 PM

There’s dowels and then there are dowels.

In my experience, quality maple dowels from a hardwood dealer are straight-grained, just slightly bigger than their spec, and pretty inexpensive. Hardwood dowels from a Borg are not nearly as consistent.

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

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 1805 days

#10 posted 09-08-2014 11:05 PM

I think you should buy them. There’s a lot more engineering that goes into a structural dowel, like glue grooves and chamfered ends, than a simple cylinder of wood.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

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8487 posts in 2752 days

#11 posted 09-08-2014 11:11 PM

The link CharlesA mentions above is cost effective in my book

to purchase them and get on with the project.

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2444 days

#12 posted 09-08-2014 11:44 PM

I would buy them because im to lazy to make them.

View mahdee's profile


4006 posts in 1943 days

#13 posted 09-09-2014 12:18 AM

Make them… It is sooo easy. get a steel plate about 3/8”... Cut a 3/4” hole in it. Use a 5/8 bit to almost go through the existing hole. You should end up with a sharp edged 3/4” hole that you can drive your stocks to get your dowels. I wouldn’t go past 8-10” at a stick.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2866 days

#14 posted 09-09-2014 12:54 AM

The oak store bought dowels should give you the strength you are looking for.

When I need dowels that aren’t readily available (Hedge,Jatoba, etc), I make em on the router table:
Quick, easy, inexpensive. All you need is a fence and a roundover bit with a radius half the diameter of the required dowel (3/8” roundover will make 3/4” dowel).

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

View JAAune's profile


1846 posts in 2492 days

#15 posted 09-09-2014 03:31 AM

Compare the cost of buying vs shop rate to make them then go for whichever is most cost effective. I’d buy the dowels because I’m a slow wood turner. I’ll only turn if I need something I can’t buy.

-- See my work at and

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