Chamfering a Dowel

In woodworking, a chamfer is basically a bevel. The term can also be used to describe removing a sharp edge, or trimming down rounded surfaces to make flat surfaces. For instance, you might “chamfer” four sides of a wooden dowel to turn it into a square peg. The term chamfer is also used to describe removing a sharp corner, or 90 degree angle. For instance, in many countries, where the sidewalks meet at a 90 degree point, the corner is often chamfered off as to allow cars to turn more easily, avoiding tire damage and unnecessary braking. Here we will discuss chamfering as it pertains to woodworking projects, specifically, projects that make use of wooden dowels.

Chamfering is very useful in dowel joinery. A wooden dowel with a chamfered edge is easier to insert into tight holes. This ease can actually allow you to create a tighter fit and a stronger finish, because the chamfered edge makes a convenient glue space at the end of the dowel. Less of the wood glue is squeezed out when the dowel peg is inserted and the glue makes contact with more surface area of the wooden dowel. Professional furniture builders almost always take the time to chamfer the ends of their dowel pegs before they attempt a dowel joint.

You can also chamfer a dowel to create trim molding. This kind of molding is generally used to define a space, cover up a gap, protect a corner from damage, or transition the eyes between surfaces. Quarter rounds and rope moldings are great examples of chamfered dowels that are being used as trim. Larger wooden dowels, usually a hardwood dowel, can be chamfered to create crown and other types of molding.

Often times, people use the term “chamfer” to refer to any joint that doesn’t meet at exactly 90 degrees. Take baseboards, chair rails, and crown molding, for example. They meet at 45 degrees in and around every corner. The ends of the boards must be chamfered to match and create an almost invisible joint. Proper chamfering will create the illusion of one continuous board, even when multiple boards are used.

Besides trimming and making joints stronger, chamfering the ends of your wood dowel and tenon ends is used to avoid the dreaded “squeeze out” of glue that can ruin the surface you are trying to finish. There’s nothing worse than joining two pieces together and having the glue escape. When that happens, it makes a spot where stains and varnishes cannot penetrate, so the finished product looks discolored. Chamfering creates extra space for glue to flow so that it doesn’t escape on to a surface where you don’t want it.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit for all of your wood product needs.

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