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John Bailey's Dowel Pop

 

John has kindly sent in his method for creating dowels on the WoodRat for us all to share.

 

"I have tried on numerous occasions to make dowelling using the woodrat technique shown in the manual, with varying degrees of success, from abysmal to not very good. Now Iím not suggesting that this is anyoneís fault but mine. Somewhere along the way, my efforts have gone badly awry and I blame my age. Either the dowel ends up like a piece of charcoal, the hole through which it is being formed starts to smoke like two boy scouts being rubbed together, or it ends up looking like Harry Lauderís walking stick (this latter remark is only for the chronologically challenged.)

To overcome the problem Iíve used two pieces of  wood, into which are let metal bushes, drilled to the sizes shown. The pieces of wood are separated with wooden spacers to allow the dust and shavings generated when cutting to fall away and so not clog up the works. The bushes, as can be seen from the photos are simply  threaded brass water fittings drilled out to suit and friction threaded into the faces of the wooden plates. The only proviso is that the inlet and outlet holes must be concentric, for obvious reasons.

 With the apparatus mounted in the camlock, a Ĺ inch straight woodrat router cutter is lowered into the wooden plate clear of the inlet bush to a depth  of the top edge of the outlet hole.

In practice, the square sectioned dowel blank is inserted by hand into the inlet hole, as an exact fit across its corners and twisted under the  rotating cutter, to cut a rough dowel end ( this will be very rough, donít worry). The blank is then removed and this Ďcircularí end is put into a drill chuck..

With the drill spinning,  the dowel blank is inserted into the inlet hole and advanced under the rotating router cutter. Painless so far. Unless you have the good fortune or brilliance to get everything exactly right the dowel will not enter the outlet bush  hole and will need to be withdrawn and the end whittled to give a lead. If the router cutter is set correctly, on the next insertion the dowel being formed  will find the outlet hole and as the drill holding the blank is advanced , the finished dowel will begin to emerge from the far side of the outlet hole. Most likely is that the dowel will not be  perfect and a bit of adjustment must be done to the cutter height. When itís right though, the dowel will emerge perfectly formed.

If only short lengths of wood are used there should be no further problem, but if longer dowel lengths are to be prepared, as they emerge from the outlet bush and  get longer, they will start to revolve like a demented dogís tail, with the expected catastrophic results. You need someone  else with gloves on to collect the growing dowel, or, if you are on your own, you need to clamp a length of tube in line and close to the outlet hole to guide the dowel in a straightish path. (see photo).

Incidentally, once the jig is set up, itís a good idea to fix the sliding bar in position with a clamp, so that it canít move, thus preventing the cutter going into the entrance bush (yes it can!.)

If this all seems a bit of a performance to cut a few dowels, it is , but itís also peculiarly satisfying when it works.

The outlet bush hole sizes are critical. They obviously determine the dowel size. The inlet holes are less so, as long as the square blanks fit exactly. The sizes quoted work for me. They are not necessarily the optimum."


 

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Yet another great idea John. Thanks for posting it in.

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This page last updated 18/03/2012