Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dowel Plate for Bamboo Skewers

I go through a lot of bamboo skewers in my shop. I use them to stir paint, apply glue, cap glue bottles, etc. I also frequently use them as pins or plugs in my projects. I like the size, the price is great, and I enjoy the look of the finished piece. They do however have one major drawback - they are rarely round.

The most usual defect is a lump, or ridge, that runs the length of the skewer. They also can vary significantly in diameter. While these defects in no way interfere with the paint stirring ability of the skewers, they can make for some very messy looking pegs. I used to dig through whole packs of skewers trying to find the best ones, all the while thinking "If only my LN dowel plate had holes smaller than 1/8th."

But then, "Eureka!" I hit on an easy fix. I took my metal drill gauge and tried using it as a dowel plate with the skewers. The gauge is not exactly beefy, but then again neither are the skewers - it works great. I find that the 7/64ths hole gives me consistantly round skewers with the least amount of effort or waste.

After I drive them through the gauge, I cut them with a knife. A rolling action makes the cleanest cut, and avoids the skewer's tendency to splinter or shred. The end result is a much cleaner look.


  1. I ran into a similar problem when using 3/8" oak dowel that was slightly over sized. I simply took a bit of scrap 3/16" thick junk steel and drilled a 3/8" hole in it, then lapped the face to make a 'sharp' edge. I didn't expect it to really work but it did. I expect that with a thick enough plate, any size can be rounded.

  2. Woodshopbug - I think traditionally dowel plates were entirely shop made on an as needed basis. And of course, they can make dowels too, not just clean them up. I've split out rough sticks and driven them through the LN plate to make perfectly useable dowels. They tend to be short, but that's how I use them 99% of the time anyway. They are also a lot stronger as there is no grain runout. Your point about lapping to make the edge sharp is important, especially on the larger sizes. With the skewers, they are so small that the standard edge of the drill gauge seems to work fine, but maybe I should try sharpening it to see what happens… Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hi Dan,
    Those bamboo dowels look very useful. Where do you buy them?
    Harlan Barnhart

  4. Harlan - I just buy them at the grocery store - in the "kitchen" supplies section. Our local store "Fred Meyer" has two different sizes of the skewers. I'm sure most people are just using them for kabobs (I do that too) but I find them very handy for making small pegs.


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