Wood dowels have been a staple of woodworking and carpentry since the late 19th century, and they come in handy for many DIY projects. If you’re searching for an exceptional woodworking joint or an easy-to-make workpiece, then wooden dowels may be just the thing you need.
What Are Wood Dowels?
Dowels are cylindrical rods that are made out of plastic, metal or different types of wood. Wooden dowel rods are typically available in 3, 4, 5 and 6 feet lengths, but you can order longer sizes, if needed. At Baird Brothers, they come in several different species, such as poplar, cherry, red oak and hard maple. The hardness of the wood ultimately determines how sturdy your dowel rod is, but as a fastener, a quality dowel rod easily surpasses the strength of a nail or screw.
How Are Wood Dowels Made?
Quality wood dowels require two things: quality wood and quality manufacturing. We here at Baird Brothers have a tried and true method for manufacturing our dowel rods. Watch our process in the video below.
What Types of Projects Are Dowel Rods Good For?
If you’re an experienced woodworker, you already know about wood dowel rods and how they impact the quality and strength of butt joints in furniture making and more. But, let’s talk about the ways you can use them – beyond expert joinery!
Dowels are in the spotlight, and for good reason. With DIY designs being more popular than ever before, wooden dowel pins can make for some unique projects.
Wood dowels are popular for hidden joints used in pieces of furniture and cabinet making – and for good reason. If you’re newer to woodworking, you may be skeptical that a wooden peg could hold up to the stress and strain of holding furniture together. But, ask any expert and they will all agree – wood dowel joints are even stronger than mortise and tenon joints, screws and nails combined.
When you’re using wood dowels for your woodworking joints, you drill holes into both workpieces. The depth of the holes will be half the length of the dowel rod. Once you are sure that the ends of the dowel rod fit snugly in your workpieces, you put wood glue in the dowel holes and along the edge of one of the wood pieces, and then insert the dowel rods into the holes. After gluing, apply pressure to the joined wood and wipe away any excess glue.
Some beginner woodworkers are a little nervous when first learning how to use dowel joints because of having to match the right size drill bit to the dowel rod. But the extra strength of this joinery method makes it worth learning.
Fixing Bored Holes
Dowels can also come in handy if you’ve drilled a hole into a piece of wood and want a flush surface as opposed to the height of a store-bought plug.
The process is simple. Use a dowel jig to drill the hole and insert a dowel rod with a little bit of wood glue. Once the glue is dried, you cut the dowel with a flush cut saw and give it a quick sanding.
DIY Woodworking Projects
There are plenty of DIY woodworking projects where the goal isn’t to hide the dowel rod in a joint, but instead, to let it shine as the main event. Here are some of the top options for beginners and experts, alike.
Stools and Plant Stand
A stool with dowel rod legs is about as simple as you can get, and plant stands aren’t much further off! Grab a slab of wood (probably about 2 inches thick) and cut a circle top (or rectangle) with a jigsaw. We suggest using a router to soften the edges and then sand the top. Get your dowels cut to length (we used 16”), and then cut one end of the dowel at an angle so the legs sit flush on the floor. Drill a hole in the flat end of the dowel legs and attach them to the circle top with hardware. Paint or finish however it will look best with your decor!
Dowel Rod Coat Racks
This is one of our favorites – an easy-to-make coat rack that hangs on the wall to make organization a breeze. Grab a piece of S4S lumber, using the species of your choice, order some dowels in the same species, and get to work! If you want to elevate the look, you can even use a thin butcher or plank-style top in place of the S4S.
Bore some holes equal distance from one another in as many rows as you’d like. (Make sure the holes are the same diameter as the dowels you ordered.) Add some wood glue and insert the dowels (which should be routed on one end and cut to the desired length). Finish with the paint color or stain and finish of your choice!
Indoor and Outdoor Games
Everyone loves a round of ladder toss in the summertime, and you can’t beat a game of tic tac toe or triangle solitaire in the winter.
Dowels can easily be added to some S4S lumber (used on the sides of each ladder) as the rungs for ladder toss. Bore some holes 13 inches apart on the side panels and insert 1-inch dowels cut to 24 inches long. Build a base and attach it to the side panels.
The indoor games are even easier! For tic tac toe, cut your choice of lumber into a square and bore 9 holes (three rows of three). Then cut dowel 9 to 10 rods to length (we like to make a few extra in case they get lost). Use a router to soften the edges of the peg and board, then you’ve got yourself a tic-tac-toe board. The process for triangle solitaire is similar, except you cut the lumber into a triangle (set your miter saw at 33-degree angles – we like each side’s length to be about 13 inches). Starting at the top and drill holes (1 at the top, 2 in the second row and so on until the bottom row has 5 holes). Add dowels cut to length and sanded.
Build Better With Baird Brothers
What are wooden dowels used for? The answer is anything you want!
Whether you’re looking for a stronger joint or want to try your hand at a creative but simple woodworking project, dowel rods are a great way to go. They’re versatile, they’re sturdy and they’re easy to work with. What more could you ask for in a workpiece?
When you’re ready to start your next project and need a quality dowel rod, check out our online store. We carry dowel rods in a wide variety of lumber species, carefully made to be as close to perfect as humanly possible. And, we ship all over the United States. No matter where you are, we here at Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods want to help you get the best build possible.