How to Make Square Dowel Rods

Written by michael wayment
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How to Make Square Dowel Rods
Ripping dowels with a tablesaw. (Sarah M. Golonka/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Dowels serve a lot of useful purposes in the construction of furniture and crafts. Home Improvement centres usually stock a wide variety of round and square dowels. But with the use of a table saw, it is fairly straightforward to rip square dowels out of any variety of wood. These dowels can be custom cut to fit the dimensions of any project's cut list. The total number of dowels possible depends on the dimensions of the wood (length x width x height) and the width of the saw blade.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wood stock
  • Table saw
  • Table saw blade
  • Table saw fence
  • Zero-clearance insert
  • Feather board (recommended)
  • Planer (optional)
  • Dust collect (optional)
  • Push-block with a cleat

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  1. 1

    Measure the width of the stock to be cut. Blades are typically 1/8 inch thick, so subtract the total number of cuts from the width of the wood to determine the final number of dowels.

    How to Make Square Dowel Rods
    Measure the stock (measuring tape on wood image by Willee Cole from
  2. 2

    Measure the height of the stock. Compare the height to the final dowel dimensions.

  3. 3

    Reduce the height of the stock with a planer until it is correct. Correcting issues with stock's thickness is much harder after the dowels are cut.

  1. 1

    Install a zero-clearance insert. This will prevent small dowels from entering the saw throat-plate and causing damage or injury.

  2. 2

    Install an "L" fence between the table saw fence and the saw blade using clamps. This fence, which is square to blade, will act as a fence for the dowels and help move dowels through the blade with the push block.

  3. 3

    Adjust the height of the blade to just above the desired height of the dowels.

  4. 4

    Adjust the "L" fence to the desired width of the dowels.

  5. 5

    Place the stock on the table saw against the "L" fence.

  1. 1

    Push the stock through the blade using a push block with a small cleat attached. The push block should ride a bit on the "L" fence as the dowel is fed out the other side of the saw blade. Be careful not to snag the push block.

  2. 2

    Turn off the saw and check the dimensions of the dowel. Make adjustments if necessary.

  3. 3

    Repeat feeding the stock through the blade until all desired dowels are cut. Each dowel will be the same size.

Tips and warnings

  • A dado blade can be used in some cases without the interior teeth to cut two dowels at a time. An outfeed table is a handy way to catch cut dowels and prevent leaning over the saw blade.
  • Always wear safety goggles and remove all loose clothing before using a table saw or any power tool. A splitter or auxiliary fence can help prevent kickback from the saw if pieces become stalled in the cutting process.

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