How to Make Wood Dowels

Updated February 21, 2017

From the earliest woodworkers to modern day craftsmen, dowels have been a mainstay of woodworking. Today's woodworker drives to the local lumber yard or home improvement store and buys his dowels in popular sizes, but what happens when you need an odd size dowel that isn't in stock? You can manufacture any size dowel you want. Its done all the time in craft shops and furniture plants. Create your own dowel-making jig with a piece of 1/4-inch steel and a drill bit equivalent to the size of dowel you want to produce.

Purchase a metal cutting drill bit the exact size of dowel you want to create. Place the drill bit in a drill press.

Drill a hole through the quarter inch steel plate, centred, approximately 1 inch from the end of the steel plate.

Clamp the steel plate securely to the end of a table or shelf, with the hole in the plate extending approximately 1 inch out over the edge of the table.

Cut two pieces of poplar, 1/6-inch bigger than the diameter of the hole in the steel plate. (If the hole is 1/2-inch in diameter cut the pieces of poplar to 9/16-inch square.)

Place the end of the 9/16 inch piece of poplar into the hole, twisting it to break off the corners slightly and centre it in the hole.

Holding the dowel with one hand, hammer the dowel down into the hole with your other hand until the end of the dowel is flush with the surface of the steel plate.

Pick up the other dowel and place it on top the hole. Hammer down on the dowel, pushing the first dowel out through the hole. Continue hammering the second dowel down until it is flush with the surface of the steel plate.

Place the end of the completed dowel on top the one still in the plate, and tap the second dowel out of the plated using the completed dowel.


Drill several different holes of differing sizes in the steel plate to create a multiple size dowel-making jig.


Always wear safety glasses when working with wood or metal.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal cutting drill bit
  • Safety glasses
  • Piece of steel plate, 2x6x1/4-inch
  • 2 hand clamps
  • Piece of poplar wood, 12x6x3/4-inch
  • Table saw
  • Hammer
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About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.