Make a Dowel With a Handplane





Introduction: Make a Dowel With a Handplane

I need a couple of dowels for upcoming projects that can't be bought off the shelf. I want them to match the species of wood that I'm working with.

In this instructable, I'll show you how I made a dowel from square stock with hand tools.

What you'll need:

  • Compass
  • Handplane or Block Plane (or both)
  • Sandpaper

You'll probably need some way of holding your work, unless you want to just go for it freehand. You can get creative, or you can build a cradle like I have. I talk more about the cradle I built in another instructable I wrote.

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Step 1: Prepare Your Stock

I need a 1" dowel, so I bought some 1/2" x 2" x 24" stock from the craft board section at the big box store. I cut two pieces at the length I needed and glued them together face to face. This gave me a piece that measured 1" x 1 1/2" (because what they call 2" at the store actually measures 1 1/2" wide).

Once the glue dried, I ripped the 1 1/2" width down to 1". This gave me a length of stock measuring 1" x 1".

Step 2: Layout the Ends

Using a compass, I draw a circle on each end of the stock. In this case I set the compass to 1/2". This will be my guide as I'm planing.

Step 3: Rough Out the Shape

I started out with a block plane to knock down all the corners, then I switched to the handplane. The goal here is to plane the square edges down to the circle drawn on the ends. After this, the stock should be octagonal. From here, just keep planing all the "corners" until they're gone.

You could do this with either (or both) planes. A spokeshave is perfect for this purpose, but handplanes work well also. This is a good exercise for both handplane control and reading grain.

Step 4: Sand to Finish

Once I've planed off all I can, I'll switch to sandpaper and sand it until I'm satisfied.

It's much more fun to just make something like this rather than having to go to the store. Give it a try sometime, it's a lot easier than you might think!



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Marking the sides to guide the first octagonalising step is a help. If you are going to do a lot then making a spar guage to do that automatically can save time.

That's a great tip, thanks! I should edit this to include that step.

Superb idea, i may have to have a go at scaling this method up when i make my next canoe paddle!

That sounds like a fun project. I'd like to see it!

One more point that occurs to me is that if your stock has a square section you can find your centre, instead of approximating, by drawing diagonals from corner to corner.

Correct. This is how it's done in turning. You might have guessed, if you watched the video, that I'm doing this in a "fast and loose" way. The reason is that I don't need this particular dowel to be perfect. The project I'm making it for will be finished in a day or two, and I'll post it here.

I appreciate your comments. You're helping me think more carefully about how I'm presenting information. It's easy to take for granted that folks with limited or no woodworking experience understand what I'm doing.

Thanks. I really like this instructable.

One thing, though. Why do you not have a stop at both ends to make it easier to use?

Apparently I'm not half as smart as I think I am. Jokes aside, that's an excellent suggestion. Thanks, and I'll definitely remember this next time.

very pleased you like my suggestion, especially as I like what you do so much. It never occurred to me to make dowels, but you have inspired me.

This is a great technique. You've clearly got skill with a handplane! :)