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Tenor #1: Dowel Stick, Part I

2006-03-12
The daunting thing about a dowel stick when you don't have a lathe is the "dowel" part. Fortunately, I have a new favorite tool that was up to the task at hand:

Vaughn Mini-Bear Saw

This Vaughn Mini-Bear Saw is the first Japanese-style pull saw I've ever used, and it certainly won't be the last; I've never used a hand-saw that cut with this kind of precision, or with such a narrow kerf. Here I used it to cut the corners off of the end of the dowel, turning it into an octagon:

Poor Man's Lathe

Sandpaper did the rest. Towards the end I was able to use a shoe-shine action applied from several angles to even out the curves. It's certainly not machine-perfect, but I think it will work.

I contemplated trying to use my balky block-plane to taper the dowel stick, but in the end decided to use the band saw, cutting outside the lines to leave myself some sanding room. I was surprised how well the taper from 3/4 to 1/2" came out:

Dowel Stick

Notes


Followup

I posed the "standard dowel stick" question to the Yahoo! Banjomakers group, and it turns out that Vega dowel sticks tended to taper from 3/4" to 1/2", which is as good a standard as any. I was also reassured that it should be strong enough for the end bold as long as the hole is centered and true, although I didn't mention I was using mystery wood; the question at this point is whether or not to remake the thing out of maple. I'll have to sleep on it.