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Monday, July 25, 2011

Custom Cut Dowels


I just wanted to show you one more way that craftsmen here at our shop go above and beyond to do the best repair work they possibly can.  We are currently working on repairing an antique settee which had to be completely taken apart, then put back together.  Each of these joints had dowels holding it together.  Now most shops will to one of two things, they will either re-use the old, often worn out dowel, or use a standard, pre-cut,  2" dowel for all the holes, just like those in the first image. Now these may seem to you like perfectly reasonable ways fix a loose or broken joint, so let me explain to you why we like to do things a little differently.

First off, we like to use a maple dowel which is much harder and therefore much stronger than a standard pre-cut dowel which can be made out of any number of woods. When you are not sure what wood the dowel is made out of, it is tough to know how strong it will be.  Using a maple dowel is going to allow the dowel to withstand much more abuse without breaking.


We also measure each dowel opening on the piece we are repairing and then custom cut the dowels to fill the maximum amount of that opening.  This way we do not end up with hollow areas in the joint, which is the biggest problem with pre-cut dowels.  As you can see in the photo above, we have cut dowels into all different lengths, some quite a bit longer than others.  Imagine if holes which go with those longer dowel pieces were filled with a standard shorter 2" dowel instead.  There would be gaps in the wood which would cause the entire joint to be weaker.

Custom measuring and cutting dowels is definitely an extra step which can bee seen as a bit of a hassle.  But the extra work is so worth it when you consider the structural strength that is gained with a perfectly fitted dowel.  

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