Make a Dowel With a Handplane

Introduction: Make a Dowel With a Handplane

About: I like to make things out of wood.

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.

Embedded videos don't always work on mobile devices, so use this link if you can't play it.

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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    11 Comments

    0
    titchtheclown
    titchtheclown

    5 years ago

    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.

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 5 years ago

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

    0
    the binks
    the binks

    5 years ago

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

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 5 years ago

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

    0
    Tinworm
    Tinworm

    5 years ago

    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.

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 5 years ago

    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.

    0
    Tinworm
    Tinworm

    5 years ago

    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?

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 5 years ago

    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.

    0
    Tinworm
    Tinworm

    Reply 5 years ago

    :)
    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.

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    5 years ago

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

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks! It's really not that hard to get the hang of it, but definitely helps to have someone show you how.