Jig for making large dowels, fluted columns, even tapered legs

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Project by SgtSnafu posted 08-24-2009 01:21 AM 98372 views 301 times favorited 48 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a project coming up where I need to make two matching tapered columns, but alas I do not have a lathe. I wanted a way to create them easily and repeatability was important – here is the jig I came up with.. A box.. On the front end I have a vertical adjustment to set the diameter at one end and a way to turn the work piece. At the other end is a sled of sorts that can be adjusted based on the length work piece needed, also with a height adjustment.

I can now take a length of wood, and cut it into an octagon on the table saw, drill center holes in each end (and a keyed hole in one end). I put that wood in the jig, and run my router (with a wide mortising bit) up and down the box turning the wood a little each time, and end up with a column. I made the front and rear pins adjustable in height so I can make any size column up to about 5” round by 40” long. To give the column a taper, I just set the rear center pin slightly higher than the front center pin. With a core box bit I can even use this to make flutes in the columns after I have rounded them. I have not done yet, but plan on drilling equally spaced holes in the front round to give the handle indexing properties.

In the pictures you can see the before and after test piece I did.

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

48 comments so far

View Julian's profile


884 posts in 4638 days

#1 posted 08-24-2009 01:42 AM

Very cool jig. I will be adding this one to my favorites.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View patron's profile


13721 posts in 4454 days

#2 posted 08-24-2009 01:57 AM

very well thought out ,
and executed !

years ago i had to make a teak spiral stairs for
a large pleasure craft ,
and made a box out of ply like this ,
but without the adjustments .
i turned a post 5”x8’ for it this way .
the word got out all the way to miami ,
and boatbuilders were coming to see how it was done .
there was 1 lathe long enough in miami to do this ,
but it cost a fortune .

i sure like yours ,
thanks for sharing !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 4348 days

#3 posted 08-24-2009 01:58 AM

Necessity is the mother of invention, and that looks like a jig you could do some really neat designs with when using different router bits (I’m thinking a chamfered edge with flutes on it would be easy to do with this jig, or at least easier…). Definitely favorited :)

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4786 days

#4 posted 08-24-2009 02:13 AM

Cool looking jig.

View Dalbergian's profile


74 posts in 4313 days

#5 posted 08-24-2009 02:14 AM

Extremely cool with good adjustability.
Even better than a lathe considering controlability of depth of cut & the high number of router bit profiles available.Also the shavings should mostly be dispersed into the jig itself unlike a lathe where shavings & dust can shoot everywhere.

-- "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible." ~ Frank Zappa

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4671 days

#6 posted 08-24-2009 03:16 AM

Awesome jig! I gave my lathe to Eric, but this will help immensely. I also highly approve of your router selection. I also have a Hitachi M12V 3.25HP.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4690 days

#7 posted 08-24-2009 03:19 AM

View David65's profile


190 posts in 4398 days

#8 posted 08-24-2009 04:06 AM

Very well done next trick is to do a spiral on it.

-- David '65

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4998 days

#9 posted 08-24-2009 04:12 AM


-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 4384 days

#10 posted 08-24-2009 12:46 PM

Thank you everyone for the kind words.

Hey David65, I had considered adapting it for spirals. I am certain I can make it work with some pulleys and a cable attached to the front round and the router tray.. Since time is always a premium for me, I will wait till I have a project where I have the need.. ;-)

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View hootr's profile


183 posts in 4459 days

#11 posted 08-24-2009 02:07 PM

well done sarge,
i’m gonna try this cause me and my lathe don’t get along, cause it’s a cheapee and so am i

-- Ron, Missouri

View David65's profile


190 posts in 4398 days

#12 posted 08-24-2009 03:01 PM

You inspired me to do something of the sort. I have gone to several of the woodworking shows here and every year they have a jig that runs $$$$$. With what you have posted I can run with it and adapt to over come the $$$$$ and get the same affect and run a spiraled leg. Thanks for the starting point and idea. BTW what unit are you in or are you out.

-- David '65

View HeirloomWoodworking's profile


238 posts in 4853 days

#13 posted 08-24-2009 04:10 PM

Very cool jig! I love how it is adjustable to different dimensions of stock.

Great idea thanks for sharing!


-- Trevor Premer Head Termite and Servant to the Queen - Heirloom Woodworking

View mtnwild's profile


4086 posts in 4640 days

#14 posted 08-25-2009 01:01 AM

I missed this!

What a great idea. You might see I’ve been doing canes and walking sticks and this would be a big help. You could put a long one together for all sorts of things. Would save a lot of time removing material. Plus custom dowels are a good thing to be able to produce. Very cool…...................

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10873 posts in 4671 days

#15 posted 08-25-2009 01:06 AM

Great looking jig. Very nicely done. I can see a lot of ideas coming from that jig.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

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