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Author Topic: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?  (Read 1916 times)

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Offline YellowHammer

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3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« on: September 01, 2022, 08:03:50 PM »
One of my customers buys about 4,000 poplar dowels per year, 4 feet long x 3/4" diameter, per year for his products.   They are pretty expensive and low quality, and he wants to make them.  Is there such a device out there that can make relatively large amounts of these dowels, out of poplar or maybe even oak?  He's been looking for awhile but can't really find any machine suitable.

Any suggestions? 
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Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  So dont burn the cookies.

Sawing is fun for the first couple hundred boards.

Offline Ianab

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2022, 08:37:28 PM »
Sounds like a broom handle making machine?  Not sure where you would buy one, a quick search leads to Alibaba (China) or Indian sites. But imagine an overgrown electric pencil sharpener. Feed 1"x 1" stock in one end and it spits out a 3/4" dowel, and a cloud of pencil shavings. 
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2022, 08:47:08 PM »
I had not even thought of a mop or broom handle machine.  That's a good idea. 
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  So dont burn the cookies.

Sawing is fun for the first couple hundred boards.

Offline Crusarius

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2022, 08:56:22 PM »
I have seen a table saw jig used with a drill to spin the bar. Looks like it works pretty slick and fast.

Offline Crusarius

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2022, 08:58:02 PM »
oooh looky, I found it :)


Offline thecfarm

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2022, 09:05:14 PM »
I know it's on a much bigger scale, but don't WM have a round post jig?
Might be able to get an idea from that.
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Offline 21incher

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2022, 09:19:13 PM »
When I had my Foley Belsaw planer I had a knife set that was a half round cutter set to make 3/4 dowels. You ran one side then flipped it and had a dowel. They also offered  gang cutters that did 4 at a time. Wood grain could cause less them perfect rounds. Had to use the slow feed gear. Wood master may have that ability.  
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Offline Larry

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2022, 09:47:32 PM »
They are pretty expensive and low quality
A common complaint I hear from chair makers. No attention is paid to grain run out and size tolerance is all over the map. Most roll their own using a jig or maybe the Veritas Dowel Maker. All slow and low production but high quality.

For production, a doweling machine is needed. Lots were made when the US had furniture manufacturing. Search the online industrial auctions but they are scarce these days.  I was at a auction a couple of years ago and one sold for I think $600.  I looked and the only new one I could find is this one. Oliver Dowel Machine. It looks to be a clone of some of the old US made machines.

Ive made them on my shaper but it was a jury rigged setup for just a few. With the shaper and power feeder I can climb cut so the finish is perfect. Takes two passes, but I think a smart guy could rig up some feed ramps to make it into a production machine.
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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2022, 07:14:46 AM »
My friend used to be the machinist for Saunders a large dowel producer in Maine. They are long gone. They tried at one point to offshore the production but they could not compete and slowly went out of business. I think National Wood Products in Oxford Maine bought some of the production lines but they to seem to be out of business. The machines I saw were two sided board planers with special knifes to make half round cuts. The dowels than went into a sanding machine. The majority of the dowels were made with white birch but they would do custom runs of other species. They completed against imported tropical hardwood dowels that were typically very low quality. In addition to the collapse of the furniture industry in the US, they had a tough time getting white birch. Back in the 1940s there was a big drought in New England followed by numerous forest fires all over Maine and NH. White birch grew in heavy and they are not particularly long lived trees so the resource declined. Saunders had an increasing problem sourcing large white birch and were driving farther and farther to get it. Still plenty of white birch around but nowhere near what was out there 30 years ago.

The tricky part with maintaining the machines was keeping sharp knifes and setting them just right. Ideally when the dowel came out of the planer there would be no trace of seam on the dowel but the points on the cutters would wear out far faster than the gullet of the cutter so as the wore out there would be a visible bump along the seam. The sander could deal with the bump,  but I think the dowels could start to get oval. 

When they were cleaning out one of the operations my friend was hauling home all sorts of odd products they had made to burn in his woodstove. One of them was coffin pegs for some religion that required all wooden coffins.  I got a few of them somewhere plus a bundle of Ash dowels. 



Offline YellowHammer

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2022, 07:42:05 AM »
These are good ideas, and I've been looking since he asked yesterday.  It's an interesting problem, how to make round sticks out of flat boards with speed.  That Oliver looked nice, and I suggested to him to use a molder also, but the seam was an issue.  He has already called several companies asking for them to help and they are not coming up with much, one of them was even a place that makes machines to produce round stair posts.    
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  So dont burn the cookies.

Sawing is fun for the first couple hundred boards.

Offline Don P

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2022, 07:49:54 AM »
You can use more than 2 heads to wipe the seam from the sides. 
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2022, 09:02:37 AM »
I've bought a very few hardwood dowels from the company in Cinn, OH- www.cincinnattidowel.com 
Mostly I turn them freehand for furniture. 
Oak Timber pegs I bought, not turned, as I was too busy building the building itself to do lathe work. ;D 

In quantity having them made may make more sense than owning a production machine? Or from a box store in cases? 
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2022, 09:52:47 AM »
He said that one reason hes looking to make his own is that most are made of oak and he needs poplar and that hes tried several sources (he didnt say which) and they come with a good mix of clear but with some unusable low grade with cracks, knots and wane, as if the rods are being made of the low grade waste and so hes getting lots of culls which drives his price up. Hes building and selling big stretching jigs or frames for making blankets, big embroidery goods, stuff like that and the rods are put under strain and if they arent perfect they will snap.  Im not sure why he has to use poplar, but apparently it is the accepted approach for the dowels or rods.

So now he just orders them by the pallet, and throws a bunch out and is looking for a better way, but he cant spend all his time making dowels so needs a semi automatic machine of some sort.  I contacted him with some of these suggestions and also pointed him to Alibaba, but of course, hes nervous about those products and lack of support from the manufacturer.    

Worst case, or maybe best case, is he just keeps buying them as he is.  
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  So dont burn the cookies.

Sawing is fun for the first couple hundred boards.

Offline Southside

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2022, 10:59:24 AM »
I suspect a 4 head moulder would do those just fine. Overlap the blade design to eliminate a seam. 
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2022, 04:51:24 PM »
Only one I use is the Veritas dowel maker. It is not a production jig by any means. For the quantity your friend needs, it is not what he wants. But makes great dowels. Made this drying rack with dowels I made. They were over 60" long, but trimmed to 60".

During construction





Completed and folded up.





Those spool bodies and the rods they slide onto.





The spokes of those reels on this reel swift.





Yeah, I make dowels. But not in lots of 4000!!  :D Mine are all maple. The wood was kilned.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2022, 09:40:45 AM »
He said that one reason hes looking to make his own is that most are made of oak and he needs poplar and that hes tried several sources (he didnt say which) and they come with a good mix of clear but with some unusable low grade with cracks, knots and wane, as if the rods are being made of the low grade waste and so hes getting lots of culls which drives his price up. Hes building and selling big stretching jigs or frames for making blankets, big embroidery goods, stuff like that and the rods are put under strain and if they arent perfect they will snap.  Im not sure why he has to use poplar, but apparently it is the accepted approach for the dowels or rods.

So now he just orders them by the pallet, and throws a bunch out and is looking for a better way, but he cant spend all his time making dowels so needs a semi automatic machine of some sort.  I contacted him with some of these suggestions and also pointed him to Alibaba, but of course, hes nervous about those products and lack of support from the manufacturer.    

Worst case, or maybe best case, is he just keeps buying them as he is.  
In a box store most are either oak or Asian wood, but the link I gave makes many, many kinds. Poplar would be an easy dowel to make. The wood is very "docile" which is why it's a much used millwork species. Factory a few miles from me uses poplar exclusively and may make dowels for all I know? Comes in by the tractor trailer loads all week long. 
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Offline DMcCoy

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2022, 03:35:39 PM »
 

 


 
Super easy and fast.  1" round hole on the front accepts 3/4" square stock.  3/4" hole on the output.  I use a cordless drill and a 3/4" square drive socket to spin the stock.  A bit touchy to adjust but once it's dialed in it is about as fast as you can shove it.

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2022, 03:58:40 PM »
Awesomeness!
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Offline 21incher

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2022, 06:29:43 PM »

(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
 

(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
 
Super easy and fast.  1" round hole on the front accepts 3/4" square stock.  3/4" hole on the output.  I use a cordless drill and a 3/4" square drive socket to spin the stock.  A bit touchy to adjust but once it's dialed in it is about as fast as you can shove it.
Love It. I will have to copy your idea for 1 inch dowels that I use in my Beall threading jig. 

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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2022, 08:57:25 PM »
That is cool!
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  So dont burn the cookies.

Sawing is fun for the first couple hundred boards.

Offline rusticretreater

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2022, 09:18:09 PM »
Yep, that is pretty cool.  I would add a block to the bottom front that covers up that part of the blade that is exposed.  You are pushing right toward it so that seems a sensible precaution to take.

That is even faster than my full size lathe duplicator setup.
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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2022, 09:27:26 PM »
My guess is that your customer would prefer to buy them with better quality but at reasonable cost.  The first people I would ask is Northcott wood turning (pegs.us).  They make pegs for timberframers.  They use ancient equipment successfully.  If they aren't able, I'd think they'd know who can do it.  I know there is a handle company I looked up in the past in Tennessee or Ky, but I can't find it.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2022, 10:05:40 PM »
I went to the Cincinnati Dowel website you referred to, that looks pretty nice.  Im checking all the links, this is kind of interesting to me, a product Ive never really looked in to.  Oddly enough, I have been asked by several customers in the past if I sell dowels, and I always just said no, but now its kind of up on my radar.  
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  So dont burn the cookies.

Sawing is fun for the first couple hundred boards.

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2022, 05:07:12 PM »
When I read a book on using a router or shaper, there was a method used to make dowels.
What you do is joint two adjacent sides 90 to each other and then plane the other two sides to make the stick perfectly square.
Once square you use your router/shaper table with a round over bit and put the square through 4 times, one for each corner.
So to make a 1" dowel you use a 1/2 round over bit.
To make my mallet handles I would use a 3/4" round over bit and make 1 1/2" diameter dowels.


 
and it comes out like this:


 
Now this is not a real good production idea/method. 
But if you need a dowel of a specific type of wood and you can't but that type of wood in dowel form. You can make your own.
I just thought I'd share this method.
I leave one end square so that the dowel doesn't rotate while indexing off the fence or table. And I make the blank longer than the dowel I need and then cut off the extra square end.
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Offline Don P

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2022, 05:53:40 PM »
My mind went the same direction, then fabbing up 4 big routers around a square frame but by then a big pencil sharpener is looking good.

I ran a bunch of quarter round out of edgings from multiple species at the cabinet shop just trying to make something useful. Nice stuff and it was mostly still there when I left. I was king of a very limited market  :D.

Did you say poplar? If he's having strength problems there are stronger woods or up the diameter?
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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2022, 03:18:09 PM »
No one has mentioned the Lee Valley dowel maker. Wonderful machine, extremely smooth finish on the dowels coming out. 
https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop/tools/hand-tools/dowel-and-tenon-cutters/42331-veritas-dowel-maker

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Re: 3/4" Diameter x 48" Long Dowel Maker?
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2022, 07:33:13 PM »
Y'all sure got my wheels spinning.
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