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The key is making simple blocks that hold the dowel in clamps you already have.
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Making a "Flat" on a Dowel

Holding It Is the Key

Text & photos by Tom Hintz

   Creating a flat side or portion of a dowel is a rather uncommon task, but one we need to handle efficiently. They key is holding the dowel so we can use common tools to accomplish the task safely.

   I have found it easiest to make a pair of blocks that hold the dowel in one of my Pony pipe clamps. While this procedure will work in most screw-type clamps, one or more of the dimensions may have to be altered to fit the clamps jaws.

   Start by marking the centerline of a length of wood at least 2" wider than the dowel you are working with. Drill a hole the same size as the dowel, ¼"-deep. Saw that piece of wood in half across the width, through the center of the hole. Use a band saw or other cutting tool with a thin blade. If you do not have a band saw, a simple hacksaw will work.

Using a block plane, sander or draw knife to make the flat is easy with the dowel held firmly.
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   Trim the two pieces to a length about 1/8" greater than the distance from the pipe to the edge of the jaws. For the standard Pony clamps the blocks are 1 3/4"-tall.

   Set the dowel in the "cups" and place the whole assembly on the pipe clamp between the jaws. Snug the jaws on the blocks just enough to hold the dowel firmly, but not bow it.

   I use a 6" block plane to make the flat on a dowel being careful to keep the plane level with the table surface. A sander, draw knife or many other tools can be used but for me, the plane is the easiest, and most accurate.

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