When you visit your local hardware store, you’ll notice they probably only carry birch and oak dowel rods. Even if you trek to a specialty woodworking store, you’ll still only find dowels in a few additional species like walnut and cherry. For a more exotic species dowel, you’ll need to create your own with a dowel plate — like this one sold by Lie-Nielson.
Lie-Nielsen manufactures this 1/4″ x 5 1/8″ x 1-1/2″ plate from A2 tool steel. Hardened to 60-62 Rockwell then cryogenically treated and double tempered, the dowel plate probably won’t ever need to be sharpened. If you do find your dowel plate doesn’t cut cleanly, though, don’t fear. It can be sharpened several times before affecting the size of the holes.
Here’s how it works: to make your own dowels, pear down the wood blank close to the final size with a plane or spoke shave, or knife and chamfer the leading end to make starting easier. Then drive the blank through correct-sized hole.
This particular dowel plate makes 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 1/2″, and 5/8″ dowels. Lie-Nielsen also sells a metric version for making 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 16mm dowels.
At $45 a piece, these dowel plates aren’t cheap. But you really don’t have much of an alternative if you need custom wood dowels.
Dowel Plates [Manufacturer]