I love watching other peoples' videos to see what they are creating and how they go about making things and that's one the things I love about woodworking, is that there are often different ways of achieving the same end result. Generally, there is no right way or wrong way doing some, just different techniques often using different tools.

Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/Ckn-ZCWHtZ4

Some time ago, I watch a Very Good video made by Tamar of 3X3 Custom where she showed a variety of ways of making dowels, you can see it here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tyygJh8c8s&feature=youtu.be 
In that video, Tamar made a dowel using a router table, and it reminded me of a woodworking technique I try to remember to use, which is starting BIG and working small, and that is, start with a larger piece of wood, because it's easier and safer to hold on to, then work at making it smaller as needed. 

And making dowels on the router table is one way of starting big and working small by using a 1/4 roundover bit style of the appropriate size.  In this case, I am going to use a 3/8 inch profile bit in a quater-roundover style, so to explain ... a 3/8" profile bit, in a 1/4 round means that 4 -1/4 rounds of 3/8" will make a round, 3/4 inch dowel.  This means if I take a piece of square wood that is 3/4 inches on all sides, of any length I want, and run each side through the router bit, I will get a round piece of wood with a 3/4 inch diameter. 

The way to figure out what size router bit you need is first of all every router bit will need to be what is called " a quater-round bit". This means it only cuts a quarter of a round and so it would take 4 of them to make a full round. Quarter-round bits come in many different sizes from 1/16" all the way up to and over a full inch. To determine what size you need, take half the thickness of the wood you are using. So a half the thickness of a 3/4" board is 3/8", so that is the router bits size, in a quarter round style that you would need. If you cutting a one inch thick board, half of that would be 1/2" so that is the router bit size you would need in a quater-round style.

The main purpose of starting big and working small is that often it is safer to work with larger pieces of wood and cut them down as you need them rather than starting off with little pieces of wood that are hard to hold on to in the first place. Of course, this doesn't work with everything but when you start trying to implement this technique you will be surprised how many times you can use it ... and you might even save a bit of wood along the way. 

Making Dowels

For this technique, starting large, with any wood you want that is 3/4 inch thick, then run the top of one edge and the bottom of the same edge through the router bit and now you have a board with a half round edge on one side. This half-round edge is often used by cabinet and furniture makers as a half-round feature piece of certain projects. 

Making wood dowel on the router

To make this into a dowel requires going to the table saw and cutting off the 3/4 inch piece edge and how running that new square edge through the router bit.

Following along with this same technique is making phone/electronics cable holders. I make batches of these things from time to time and give them away ... people love these for storing their electronics and phone cables. 

Again I start with a larger piece of wood and work at making it smaller until it is the right size, then I cut the slots for the cables with my bandsaw. Again I find the bandsaw safer and sometimes the table saw blade will chip one of the smaller pieces because they are somewhat fragile at that smaller size, so the bandsaw is a better bet.

One last technique I was reminded about comes from Brad.  It also has to do with working with smaller pieces of wood, but in this case, it's more a matter of edging wood.  Traditionally this is often done with a plane and shooting board ... and the technique works well if you have a nice sharp plane, and preferably a low profile plane too and you will need a shooting board if you don't have one ... 

Sometimes I just have one piece of wood, or maybe it's a picture frame that I need to just lightly clean up the corners on, not a major project, just something small and infrequent. For this, Brad suggests using a block of wood, squared off, and use thumbtacks (I used stapes in my demo) to temporarily attach some sandpaper of your choice to the block, then use that instead of a plane. I have used this technique in the past, but it's a great reminder from Brad, that once again there is more than one way of achieving the same end and with very good results. 

Oh yeah and details of that Announcement

Yes, I will be visiting the Kansas City Woodworking Show, January 17, 18 & 19 - 2020. at the KCI Expo Center, 11728 NW Ambassador Drive, Kansas City, MO 64153
I am planning to attend in the afternoon of the 17 and 18 but probably on the 19th. Details of the show are here - http://www.thewoodworkingshows.com/kansas-city.html

Since I am going to be in the area ahead of time, I have agreed to give a talk at the Lee's Summit Woodworkers Guild on January the 14th. Lees Summit is about 30 minutes southeast of Kansas City. All the details on the location, times, etc will be updated in the link shortly. Guests are welcome and if you are going to be in the area on that date, drop into the guild meeting and meet some dedicated and friendly and talented people. 

Copyright Colin Knecht


Colin Knecht's Quick Woodworking Techniques