Although I often need oak or walnut dowels, they’re not readily available where I live. Not owning a lathe, I resurrected an ancient but effective dowel-making method that uses a simple jig and hand plane. Dowels made this way are, in my opinion, superior to those made by driving blanks through a steel sizing plate.
Construct the dowel-holding jig by ripping several V-grooves in a 2×6. A variety of groove depths will allow a wide range of dowel sizes. Screw a stop on one end of the 2×6. Place a square dowel blank in a groove and plane the top corner. Turn and plane repeatedly until the blank is octagonal. Successive turn/plane cycles will result in a nearly round dowel, which can then be finished with sandpaper. One small drawback the blanks must be flipped end for end as the grain direction changes.
Frederick C. Wilbur, Shipman, Va.
Fine Woodworking Magazine, April 1980 No. 21
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