I've been looking for ways to make small dowels. Well, really they'll be knitting needles and arrows. I'm still hoping to find a jig design that I like for cutting dowels from square stock. Until then, I rip squares and plane them fairly close to round in a long v-block. Knitting needle diameters range from about 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch. Knitting needles would be 8 to 15 inches long. Arrows have less size variability, about 5/16 to 3/8 inch diameter and 30 inches long. Next I want to sand them to accurate diameter, and very smooth. I've looked into the methods used for centerless grinding similar things made of steel, but haven't figured out a way to do it at home on wooden parts. It seems like the smoothest surface will come from sanding with the grain, though, which is not the way a centerless grinder works. I've got a drill press with sanding drum and I clamped a v-notched guide next to the drum and tried sanding that way, rotating and pushing the wood shaft between the drum and guide notch. But it failed miserably, probably because I seem to need infeed and outfeed guides to hold the stock straight and steady. The initial trial was with strips of bamboo which I split and then planed to approximately 1/4 inch in diameter. The bamboo isn't completely straight, so as I turned my end, the rest wiggles around. It seems like that shouldn't matter with the v-block holding the workpiece at a constant distance from the sanding drum, but it sure didn't work.
Does anyone know how dowels are sanded in large quantity? I mean what kind of machinery and what shapes of abrasive "cutter" do they use? As well as the sanding drum, I also have 1x42 and 2x48 inch belt sander/grinders that I could try making guide fixtures for. If I knew what to do!
If I can find a good way to do this, I'll take some pictures and write up a description and put the info on my website for others to see.
Thanks for any help!
-- Doug VanderLaan, K8RFT http://users.netonecom.net/~swordman/GetThePoint.htm "Sometimes history doesn't repeat itself. It just yells 'can't you remember anything I've told you?' and lets fly with a club. "To be great is to be misunderstood." Ralph Waldo Emerson -- John W. Cambell Jr.