How to Cut Dowel Rods

Updated November 21, 2016

Wooden dowel rods are commonly used in woodworking projects. They are circular rods that come in many different widths and can be used for many different functions. Dowel rods are commonly used to join two pieces of wood or other materials together, to add support to projects or structures and to create joints. Dowel rods can be cut with razors or power saws depending on the width of the rod, or they can be cut using a dowel jig.

Determine the length of the dowel rod needed for the project.

Measure the dowel from one end to the desired length with a tape measure or ruler, and mark the dowel rod with a pencil. Take care when cutting larger dowel rods 1 to 2 inches wide. Make sure the circular mark surrounding the dowel is even the entire way around the rod.

Take a number 11 Exact-o blade and create an indentation along the pencil mark if the dowel rod is thinner than ½ inch. Snap the excess rod off from the incision mark.

Use a box cutter or utility knife if the dowel rod is ½- to 1-inch wide. Place the box cutter or knife over the mark, apply pressure and roll the rod so that the indentation goes completely around the rod. Bend the excess until it snaps off.

Saw larger widths of dowel rod with a scroll saw, band saw or circular saw. Apply pressure to both sides of the dowel rod when cutting on a scroll saw or band saw to keep the cut even and to help prevent splintering.

Cut a scrap piece of 1-by-3 wood to 6 inches with a saw. Insert a drill bit the same size as the dowels, then drill holes into the 1-inch side of the wood through to the opposite side of the wood.

Stand the wood piece vertical and draw measurement lines every ¼ inch along the top of the wood piece with a pencil. Cut 1/3 of the way down the block with a back saw at each mark.

Cut a wooden stop piece out of the scrap 1-by-3 and screw it onto the wooden block to cover the side of the drilled holes. This will keep the dowel from slipping through when cutting.

Insert the dowel into the drilled hole, and cut the dowel with the back saw at one of the measurement increments.


Use sand paper to smooth rough edges. Sand the dowels with a belt sander after cutting an uneven edge. A back saw is suggested because it has a rigid support the prevents snagging. However, any available hand saw designed for cutting wood can be substituted if needed.


Use caution when cutting or sanding with power tools. Always wear protective eyewear and a dust mask, and keep hands clear from blades.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden dowel rods
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Number 11 Exact-o blade
  • Utility knife or box cutter
  • Scroll saw, band saw or circular saw
  • Back saw
  • Wood screw
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