Dowel Making Video: My First Hi-Tech Attempt

Never stop learning, experimenting, and pushing yourself that’s my mantra!  Probably what lead me from running 10K’s, to marathons, and then trail ultras of 50-100 miles but isn’t that what life is for?  The next step on the Armoire will be to begin the complicated assembly process and the first step are the draw bored mortise and tenon sections that make up the drawer frame.  I thought I had some Walnut laying around but was wrong!  Luckily, I had a meeting with Jamie of WoodItIs to discuss my upcoming Hand Tool Class and asked her if by chance, she had a scrap piece of Walnut I could have.  Lucky for me she did, I needed to make the pegs/dowels for the joints.

Thinking that this would make a good tutorial entry for the blog I was somewhat stymied as to how to present it.  Lupe has made videos of demonstrations at our Sin City Woodworkers meetings and even opened a YouTube account to post them.  The members of the club enjoy those so I thought let’s give it a try.  I’d be interested in any feedback from you blog readers giving me any opinions or critique — didn’t realize that the sound would come through too, hope you like classic rock!

Step 1:  The process begins by cutting square material for the dowels.  In the past I’ve used the tablesaw but that’s a bit dicey so chose the bandsaw which is much safer for this step.  If you check out this previous post on dowel making where I used the tablesaw  ‘m sure you’ll agree!  The size needed is 3/16″ and you need to experiment a little to get the fence set correctly.  Too large and it’s hard to get the piece through the dowel plate, too small and you end up with facets on the dowel.  It ended up that the stock is about 13/64″ square, heres the first step:

Step 2:  The next step is one that really helps the process.  I’ve made what I call a “dowel sled” which is nothing more than a piece of MDF fashioned into a bench hook with a V-groove in it.  The square piece that comes off of the bandsaw is placed in it so a block plane can take off the corners turning it into an octagon — this makes putting it through the dowel plate much easier.  The hand motion of holding the piece in the sled while planing is the key.  This step ends with the use of a pencil sharpener at the end of the octagon:

Step 3:  Next up is making the actual dowel.  I’m using a dowel plate from Lie-Nielsen which is inset into a pretty fancy yet substantial holder.  To me, this is nicer than just having the plate float around on top of your bench.  A dead blow mallet works well here as well as supporting the stock while you gently “beat it” through the hole.

Step 4:  Here is a close up of the final step to this process.  You can see that the top split off so it’s best to make your pieces longer than the dowel you’ll eventually need.

Now that this is all said and done I must admit it was a huge learning experience figuring out how to first take the video but then upload to YouTube and insert into this post.  Appreciate any of your comments; good, bad, or indifferent so I can improve where needed, hope you enjoyed it!



About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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3 Responses to Dowel Making Video: My First Hi-Tech Attempt

  1. Chase says:

    Looks great, I am inspired to start making my own dowels. Videos help a lot. They look good except when you have the dowel in the sled, why is it so shaky? Is the camera sitting on your table? Might want a floor tripod and/or to hang some weight low on the one you have. An additional light might help in some of the shots at the bench. How did you make the v-grooves so straight on that dowel sled? Router?

    I have been following you for a few months and decided I want to be just like you when I grow up!


    • Thanks Chase, checked out your website and see that you’re into a lot of neat things — nice! I didn’t realize it until after the fact but the tripod had one leg against my workbench so that explains the movement, sorry about that. The dowel sled is a piece of MDF with a “foot” on the bottom so it’s like a bench hook. You’re right, small v-bit in the router and the horizontal cut was a couple of passes with a tablesaw blade designed as a stop for the dowel. As far as growing up like me, well; I’ve had trouble growing up so good luck on that! Appreciate you following my blog — John


  2. Pingback: Wenge + Spalted Maple = Dovetails and Pegs? | Woodworks by John

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