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jmattsson

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Reply with quote  #1 
Good morning,
     I am in the middle of building the Macho Motorcycle using Jon's wonderful plan.  I have cut out all the parts and spent hours sanding and sizing each part to get them just right and ready for paint and assembly.  As I doing some dry fitting, I became frustrated as once again the dowels don't fit in the drilled holes.  It's not just this project, but every project I have worked over the past couple of years.  I follow the plans to the letter and drill each hole exactly where is calls for in the plans, but when it comes time to fit the specified size dowel in the drilled hole, the dowel will not fit.  I have spent hours sanding and refitting dowels and  the time it takes getting the dowels to fit is taking away from the enjoyment I get in making these toys.  
As a work around, I have tried using a drill bit slightly larger than the plans call for.  For example, when the plan calls for a 1/4" hole, I try using a 9/32" drill bit.  A problem arises when the that 1/4 hole has to be drilled into a 3/8" dowel.  There is no margin for error and making the hole just 1/32" bigger will compromise the plan.  In the Macho Motorcycle the plans call for 38 dowels, and an equal number of holes to be drilled for those dowels to fit into.  I thought for a while that I was buying inferior dowels, so I started buying just poplar dowels, as the ones made out of pine seem to lacking.  I check the dowels for size before I start and find them all to lack any real uniformity of size that is needed for these plans.
So the point of all this ranting and griping is to ask what others are doing to work around this issue.  Do others have a problem with the dowels, or is it just me?  If reshaping the size of dowel, or drilling a slightly larger holes are the only solutions, I'll keep at it, but if you have a solution, I'd appreciate some advice.
Thanks for reading this rant, and I apologize for the long-winded email; I just needed to vent.

Jim Mattsson



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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Jim,

You ask an important question and it one that I have puzzled over for many years. The only solution that I have found is the one you suggest. There is such a wide range of quality in dowels from supplier to supplier that it is about impossible to find any other solution. Because of this I am designing toys now with a lot less need for precise fitting of these types of parts. I apologize for the trouble you have had with the Macho. That said, it has been a popular design and built many times. It has also increased the profanity and anger even with the most experienced among us!
Rod T

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Reply with quote  #3 
Yes, a common problem that I come across as well. 
I think it is the variation in diameter of the dowels more than anything. 

Whenever a project calls for dowels, I tend to drill holes in a scrap piece of timber first and see which one fits snuggly. I have a range of metric and imperial drill bits to pick from.

As we are Metric here in Australia, dowels are sold in metric measurements, but they vary.
Quite often I'll find 6.35mm measurement which is 1/4 inch in imperial, sometimes 6mm.

Hope this helps.

Cheers
Rod T
Iggy

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Reply with quote  #4 
Try to make your own dowels. great fun, have a look on You Tube for how, and you can do it in any wood you want to match your project.


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FarsiderCarvings

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Reply with quote  #5 
 I have noticed that even the same supply of dowels, some can vary in size. What I do in many cases is to stick the dowel into a drill chuck and give it a spin in a piece of handheld sandpaper. Makes that perfect fit in just a few seconds. Then cut the dowel to the lengths that you need. 
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jmattsson

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks to all who responded.  The bottom line appears to be there is no one solution and it is a crap shoot as to whether the dowels will work.  As luck would have it, I was strolling through a huge flea market and came across a nice set of drill bits which ranged is sizes including 32nds and 64ths.  When used them I found that either the 32nd or a 64th size just above the size I needed did the trick.  Instead of fussing and fighting to get the dowel to fit, now they seem to fit well enough that they don't fight me trying to get them installed.
BadBob

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Reply with quote  #7 
set of numbered & letter bits are a great help with this. The step up in very small increments. Measure your dowel with calipers and look up the size on the chart to choose the bit. I use the next largersize. Also keep in mind that there has to be room for the glue and paint on the dowel makes it larger.




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Hambone

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Reply with quote  #8 
After being disappointed with inaccurate dowels at the hardware store, I went to Lowe's locally.  Their dowels have always been accurate, however, take a measuring device to be sure.
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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hambone
After being disappointed with inaccurate dowels at the hardware store, I went to Lowe's locally.  Their dowels have always been accurate, however, take a measuring device to be sure.


Remember that dowels that are made round will not stay round. The diameter will vary according to moisture content, and it will not be uniform in all directions. Wood expands more across the grain than with the grain. Use calipers to measure at least two times at 90-degree angles. 


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