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Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by paulg, Feb 13, 2020 at 7:20 PM.
Anyone have a source for hardwood dowels? Thanks
I've never seen a "softwood dowel" in my life. You can pretty much get the usual hard wood ones at any decent hardware, or big box home store like Home Despot, or Lowewewews. You can also order them from Amazonian, or Rockler Roller.
Many/most are softwood. Pine or poplar are vey popular. But you can also get walnut, oak and sometimes maple.
Rockler has a good selection, as does Woodcraft.
when is somebody gonna sell pre-made cross-grain hardwood plugs rather than end-grain dowels, that's what i wanna know
The flooring or stair supply places have them. Mahogany, Maple, Etc.
I buy from Decking Supply places because it's way less expensive. $10-$15.00 for 30" Exotic 2x4s.
You just have to dry it out some, because they like a higher moisture content if it goes outside. This is called Goncalo Alves
For short dowels or plugs (1" or less), I use this type:
I've had a few that undercut the listed diameter... not a lot, but enough that there is some wiggle room. I have a hss forstner bit that I've shaved the OD down to match my specific cutter for a tighter fit. It cuts straight unlike a traditional plug cutter, but you have to take your time as it's easy to burn harder wood species.
If you watch reruns of New Yankee Workshop, Norm will tell you to make your own plugs so that you can get the grain in any direction that you need.
In Berkeley California is a great supplier of lumber products. I have bought hard maple dowels here and they may have many choices. I'd imagine they can ship as well.
right of course, i use a plug cutter in just this way.
i'm just saying it would be a nice convenience
Agreed, it would be a nice convenience.
If you're looking for unusual sizes or species, this place has a big selection. I've bought from them a while back.
The problem is that there is no strength in a cross grained dowel. For the purpose they were intended for, (joining joints between two pieces of wood) the will break. In luthier we are really not looking for dowels, we are lookin for plugs. as you note, a plug cutter works for this. Unfortunately, I have not seen small diameter cutters.
I've had to make small, non-tapered plug cutters in "odd sizes" (5/32" od) before. It's not too difficult to make if you have a drill press and/or lathe, an angle grinder, and a file or two. I'll try to remember to take a pic of mine & post it.