Better Shop-made Dowels | Popular Woodworking Magazine
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I have to admit that I don’t really like the pieces. I’ve repaired too many old dowel joints over the years to trust them. Part of the problem is that a centering hole in the front grit offers only about 50 percent contact from long grit to long grit, which requires a strong joint. The remaining contact between long grain and fine grain provides only minimal resistance. Anchor joints can also be difficult to align, even with a jig.
As a result, I don’t use dowels often enough to warrant buying quantities of precut, grooved and beveled dowels. When needed, I make my own dowels from a long hardware warehouse, which I like to keep on hand for a variety of general store applications. When making joinery dowels, I groove them on the table saw to create escape passages for air and glue during insertion. To avoid cutting a groove as wide as the saw teeth (which minimizes the glue surface on the dowel), I angle the blade at 45 ° and lift it up to cut only approx. 1⁄32“Deep into the gusset. A zero-clearance needle plate prevents the gusset from sinking into the large opening on a stock plate. I make the cut for a new zero-clearance insert using the 8” diameter blade from my stack nut set because a 10 “diameter blade, when set in the lowest position, prevents correct positioning of the insert in the groove.
For efficiency and control, I cut grooves on gusset lengths that roughly match the sole length on my shoe-style push stick. Next, I cut the individual dowels to size, then chamfer the ends for easy insertion. A quick way to smooth the ends is to lightly insert a dowel into a drill and tap it on a belt or disc sander, with the two tools rotating against each other. – Paul Anthony
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