Novice needs help - dowels, buttons, and balls

I'll try to keep this short even though I have several questions that hopefully someone can help me with.
I have built several cradles for friends and family who were expecting. As long as I have been able to build from wood species that are common, no problems. Recently one of my best friends found out that he and his wife were expecting. So we all went to a local lumberyard that specialized in hardwoods and they fell in love with the South American Walnut stock there. We bought the wood and I got started.
The problem is that the project calls for: 7/16"X11" dowels (for the rails), 1.5" dia. (drawer pulls), and buttons and plugs. I can't find any of these that match the color of the walnut we bought.
So, here are my questions: 1. I do not have a lathe, so turning my own dowels is out. I called a local wood turning company (the only one in the phone book) who wanted $10.50/dowel. I need 30. Ouch. Does anyone know of a rental company that would rent me a lathe in the Atlanta Area (Home Depot and Lowe's both did not have one) or know of a woodworker with a big heart in the Atlanta area who might turn these for a better price, or know of a way that I can accomplish this without a lathe. I've read about pounding through a metal opening slightly larger than the desired dia. but is this practical? Is an 11" dowel too long for this process? Any other ideas?
2. I have the same "lack of a lathe" for the drawer pulls (which actually act as decoration) more that anything. I though about attempting to hand carve these, but fear they will cause me hours of displeasure only to look like crap.
3. The fasteners are covered (normally) by wooden 3/8" mushroom buttons, or 3/8" plugs. Seems like I've seen a tool/jig at some time in my travels that allows one to create their own buttons and plugs. Am I off my rocker or does this tool/jig exist? Any creative ways of doing this?
These really are good folks that I am building the cradle for, but unfortunately I can't afford to buy my own lathe right now. So, please don't just tell me I need one. I know.
Thanks in advance for your help,
DB
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<snip>

Try these people http://shop.store.yahoo.com/squaredrive/do-4316.html

You can start your door pulls by cutting out with hole saws, once you have started the hole with the pilot cutter, reduce the length so it still acts as a pilot but doesn't go right through the wood.. If you have a drill press you can hold your blank with a screw in the chuck and sand.

Making your own buttons would be a bit of a problem, but there are lots of plug cutters, here's one place to start: http://www.cvfsupplycompany.com/woplcutoset.html

Bernard R
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snipped-for-privacy@infinitechs.com (Danny Bloodworth) wrote:

Springs, or maybe Woodcraft on Holcomb Bridge just west of 400.

Highland Hardware, Woodcraft, or maybe Rockler.
Call any of these before you travel far--these are just my impressions of who locally would have them. Highland Hardware is always a great starting point--very knowledgeable, and will help you with alternative approaches and alternative sources.
If this fails, DAGS; lots of sources there.
--
Alex
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Danny Bloodworth wrote:

You might want to play with that walnut a bit before you commit to anything--while most lumber sold as "South American walnut" is just that, juglans neotropica (was looking at some today--quite nice), there is another species, Ipe (scientific name Tabebuia), that is sometimes sold as "Brazilian walnut" and its properties are _very_ different--it's one of the hardest, strongest woods known.

Do you have a router and a variable speed drill? If so, scare up a copy of Patrick Spielman's "The New Router Handbook". Chapter 17 starts off with using a router to make dowels using a fairly simple shop made jig.

He shows another setup that could easily be modified (shorten the bed and make a template with the right profile) to make your knobs. It's going to be kind of Rube Goldberg but it will work as long as you're careful and take your time.

Plug cutters are commonplace. Sears has a set for ten bucks that includes 3/8.

--
--John
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Thanks to all who posted. I will test out the suggestions to see what will work best.
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