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Shop Tip: Flush Cut Dowels with a Chisel Dowel

Flush & Smooth!

finishedMany woodworking joints can be made stronger with dowels.  In many cases, these dowels as to the decor of the project, but the dowels need to be flush cut with the surface to look good.  This process can be intimidation as you risk cutting into your perfect work piece with the saw or chisel and you can also not cut the dowel correctly, leaving a rough surface.  Our YouTube video will help you walk through the whole process.

In our video, we start by drilling the proper sized hole and applying glue before we hammer the dowel in place.  After wiping the glue and letting it dry, we cut the dowel off about a 1/16″ about the work piece.  There are many ways to cut the dowel, but a simple flush cut hand saw or any other small saw, even a hacksaw with the right blade will work.  Whatever you use, be sure to leave the dowel stick up a bit so you do not damage the grain where the dowel will be flushed and finished.

tormekAt this point we need to make sure our chisels are sharp.  The chisel needs to be sharp enough to shave with!  We use the Tormek T8 to sharpen these items because it does such a great job, but you can get the same results with other tools, stones or methods.  With the chisel sharp, we can move on to the actual work.

To start, we have the chisel upside down, and use both hands to hold the chisel.  The key to getting a smooth cut is to move the cutting edge move side to side relative to the direction of cut.  It helps to see it done in the video!  With the chisel upside down, the tendency for the chisel to pull will be upward, away from the workpiece.  Taking a very thin slice off the wood along with a sharp chisel is sharp will not require a lot of force to slice the chisel through the wood.

Bevel down

Bevel down


Bevel up

Bevel up

Once we get close to the work piece, we flip the chisel the correct way and lay it flat on the work piece.  This will help to stop the chisel from digging into the work piece.  With a sliding motion to one side, you peal the last bit off.  The sharp chisel will slice the wood smooth and leave a nice finished look.

Finished flushed dowels

Finished flushed dowels

This is not as difficult as it looks if you have sharp tools!

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