Dowel Maker Fail

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Project by LJackson posted 01-18-2015 01:35 AM 2159 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Surely I’m not the only one with this problem. Commiserate with me. I watch thousands of hours of woodworking videos, and say “Hey, I can do that. That looks easy!” Er, no. Today I present the tale of the dowel maker that never was. Never was adequate, that is.

For reference, here are the inspiration videos:

After numerous attempts, I have given up. Unlike these videos, the wood has always wobbled way too much in my drill that it either falls out or breaks off in the chuck. Further, I have to put all of my weight into it with the hole pointing down. The resulting wood is not just rough, it’s so munged up that to sand it even will loose a significant portion of the size.

“But wait!” your saying, “What the heck is that thing in the photo?” Well, it is my attempt at eliminating the wobble. You put a piece of square stock into the hole, and chuck it up in a drill. Long story short, it didn’t eliminate it. The resulting dowel is still pretty crappy for what I want. Unlike the videos, the wood isn’t being shaved off, but just curling up.

I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. Maybe it’s the species, Maybe it’s the steel. Maybe it’s the diameter I’m trying to achieve. Stay tuned for my next post, which will likely be a review of the Veritas Dowel Maker, or something similar.

8 comments so far

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 2222 days

#1 posted 01-18-2015 07:08 AM

The picture of the munged up square stock makes me think it is too thick? When I make a dowel i cut the dowel stock darned close to the diameter of the dowel and I then ease the corners with my block plane. Then I tap it through the dowel plate with a mallet. I like the drill trick. Gonna give it a try.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View adbuett's profile


12 posts in 2765 days

#2 posted 01-18-2015 02:52 PM

It’s a little hard to tell from the last photo, but if I had to guess I would say the jig you’re using does not have sufficient “teeth”, as Izzy called them, around the edges of the holes. From the video’s you can actually see the grooves he cut into the sides of the hole with the Dremel, but in your last picture I can’t very well see these grooves. This is what allows him to cut so quickly with the drill since it’s basically saw-teeth he has created. Before abandoning your project you might try making more pronounced teeth. Good luck!


View Rockbuster's profile


499 posts in 3494 days

#3 posted 01-19-2015 01:04 AM

If you want a good dowel maker, try my buddy’ Woodshavers.

-- Rockbuster,Ft. Wayne,In It is far better to remain silent, and appear the fool, than it is to open ones mouth, and remove all doubt.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3576 days

#4 posted 01-19-2015 01:06 AM

I’ve tried a lot of different methods to make dowels and now use the router table and roundover bits for perfectly sized dowels and no sanding required!

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

View Skip Mathews's profile

Skip Mathews

120 posts in 2736 days

#5 posted 01-19-2015 03:32 AM

I use this dowel plate from Lie-Nielson

-- Being focused on a project is the best meditation, it allows you to live in the moment"

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2480 days

#6 posted 01-19-2015 04:49 PM

Thanks guys. I know I said I was going to go with a Veritas Dowel Maker, but I started trying to build something like Izzy’s table saw lathe. I saw that bandsaw option, and it too looks reasonable. What I like about the table saw lathe is that the stock is supported at two ends, reducing wobble.

Andrew, if you are going to make it, that hex bit on the back is a hex to 1/4 inch socket adapter. One piece of 1/4 inch plywood was drilled, and then the hole was squared off to fit the adapter. Then it was epoxied to the adapter, and sanded to fit into the square whole in the rest of the piece. Finally another piece of plywood was drilled with an oversized hole and the bit and plywood were glued onto the block.

View robscastle's profile


7446 posts in 3090 days

#7 posted 08-09-2015 08:29 PM

You can always use a router table and a round over bit, I had some good results this way.

-- Regards Rob

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2480 days

#8 posted 08-28-2015 03:49 PM

I did that to make some 2” dowels that were originally going to be curtain rods, but I never completed the project before moving out of the house.

I now have both the Veritas Dowel Maker and a Grizzly G0766 lathe, so I have plenty of options for making wood cylindrical.

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