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dowels are TOO tight. What to do?

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Forum topic by spaids posted 1885 days ago 2953 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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spaids

699 posts in 2291 days


1885 days ago

I have 1/2” dowels and a 1/2” forstner bit. The trouble is the dowels are VERY tight. I only need them to go in about 1/4 inch deep into the 1/2” forstner drilled holes.

First: is this common? My forstner bit set is a super el cheapo and I’m wondering if thats the root of my trouble.

Second: It is what it is so hows the best way to deal with it? I guessing sanding the ends of the dowels till the fit is the best way to go. Got any ideas for making this fast and or easy?

Thanks

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--


39 replies so far

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2586 days


#1 posted 1885 days ago

Either sand or get a new 1/2” bit.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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SCOTSMAN

5243 posts in 2183 days


#2 posted 1885 days ago

try a half inch drill lip and spur is good and see if that helps.You need to make the hole bigger the dowel can’t be made smaller realistically easily so keep trying with a standard drill. Actually I never heard of anyone using a forstner for dowels although it’ should work fine what made you go down that route in the first place

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View SplinteredBoard's profile

SplinteredBoard

59 posts in 2204 days


#3 posted 1885 days ago

Waid,
What did you do to get the walnut ‘bar’ centered on the middle of the back dowels? Did you get those together? Or are you just trying to get the dowel ends into one of the pieces first?

I would probably try sanding, but even then, there’s no room for expansion when you finally get them in the mortises.

Have you tried taking a sharp chisel to the ends? I’m not saying that’s the best way to go, but I’ve done it in the past. Yeah, it looked messy, but I got them in the mortises.

Again, though, think about the bar you have to slip over half of the dowels in the back…

-Rick

-- Splintered Board Podcast - Woodworker Un-extraordinaire

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 2342 days


#4 posted 1885 days ago

It’s usually better to have them a little on the tight side, especially if you’re only driving them in 1/2”. Could be your dowels and not your bit. Most of the dowels you buy are imports and they are closer to a metric size than standard.

View spaids's profile

spaids

699 posts in 2291 days


#5 posted 1885 days ago

Scotsman: I a complete uneducated and inexperienced newcomer. So I just try the first thing that comes to mind. I needed flat bottom 1/2” holes and grabbed a forstner bit. If there is a better way I’d love to learn.

Rick: I’m good with that bar in the back. I took a piece of 1/4” dowel and wrapped it in sandpaper and chucked it up in my drill press. Since that back piece has holes all the way through I just slipped it on on the little dowel and sanded the inside of the wholes.

So is this the result of a cheap forstner set?

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

348 posts in 2270 days


#6 posted 1885 days ago

Waid, I’m facing the exact same situation myself (3/8” though). Was going to address it this evening and try to come up with a solution. Your’s is a great idea!! Thank you!!

BTW, I did put a caliper to the dowels and found that three coats of poly was just enough to make them too big for a comfortable fit.

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2175 days


#7 posted 1885 days ago

Hey spaids
Your problem could be that your dowels have been storied were it’s moist and have swelled a little bit so if you put them in a micro for a short time that might help and or your forstner bit is under size. I think you could have chucked your dowel in your drill press and sanded them as well. Good thinking on your aproach.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View printman's profile

printman

72 posts in 2671 days


#8 posted 1885 days ago

I don’t know when you were working on that project but with St. Louis weather (Rain every three or four days) maybe your dowels swelled from the humidity. Do you keep them in a dry place?

-- St. Louis - just a cut away from finishing!

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spaids

699 posts in 2291 days


#9 posted 1885 days ago

Hey man I’m just down the road from you (O’Fallon) and I was working on this project this weekend and you know it was raining the whole time. Hmmmmm…

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15655 posts in 2816 days


#10 posted 1885 days ago

They should be snug, but if they really don’t fit, either your dowel is too big (moisture or poor manufacturing), or your hole is too small. :-)

There is no need for a flat-bottomed hole since the dowels are not going all the way to the bottom anyway. A standard twist drill or brad-point bit will be easier to work witj, and a little wiggle when drilling will give you a bit bigger hole to accept the dowel.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Kindlingmaker's profile

Kindlingmaker

2654 posts in 2124 days


#11 posted 1885 days ago

I have bought several dowels from the same store at the same time and most of them were all different sizes, not by much but enough to want to turn some of them into kindling. ...also, if you heavily flute the dowels that too will add in their instalation and getting past that piston thing.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2897 days


#12 posted 1885 days ago

I some times crimp the dowels with a pliers to shrink them.

They will swell back to normal when glued.

This is the way they make biscuits for joining with a biscuit joiner.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1140 posts in 2589 days


#13 posted 1885 days ago

You might also try sawing/filing/chiseling some grooves in the dowel (if they don’t already have grooves) because if they are air tight, and there is nowhere for the air/glue to go…

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View kerflesss's profile

kerflesss

182 posts in 1966 days


#14 posted 1885 days ago

Hi Spaids, Drill a hole in a piece of steel the same as the drilled hole and run you dowels through it. I use my vintage WWII drill gage which has all the sizes I need…

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spaids

699 posts in 2291 days


#15 posted 1885 days ago

Randy,

What solution are you referring to? I’ve come up with nothing yet. That sandpaper wrapped down thing is only good for the through cuts and I think I got that idea from Rick.

There are some very good ideas on this thread. I think if I’m not able to crimp the ends I’ll try cutting the thinnest kerf I can in the end.

Should the kerf go with the grain or against it? I’m guessing the dowel could split over time if I do this wrong.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

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