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Tools Then and Now: Dowel Cutter0

  

At first glance, I thought these were camera lenses—though that was probably a knee-jerk reaction due to my background in the film/video industry. 

From the back, it’s more clear that they aren’t for use with a camera. 

 

Finally, when I looked more closely, and I realized I’d never seen anything quite like these before. . . .mainly because these are a set of cutter heads for a Stanley 77 doweling machine.  And, I’ve never used a doweling machine before.

The heads range in size: ¼”, 5/16”, 7/16”, ½”, 9/16”, 5/8”, 11/16” and ¾”.  In the case of these particular heads, available at Jon Zimmmers Antique Tools, almost all of the black enamel finish remains and they need some sharpening.

If you happen to need these cutter heads, they’ll run you a smooth grand.  And if you need the 3/8” sized cutter, tack on an extra $50.

Dowel cutter heads are a bit different these days:

 

Still,  I’m not quite sure what’s going on here.  These look like some sort of threshing device from a horror flick – and nothing like the Stanley 77 heads.  So let’s learn together, shall we?

These cutter heads from Hawker come standard on all of their newer machines.  Instead of having multiple heads of different sizes, this device consists of four adjustable cutter knives that are “infinitely” variable—from 5/18″ to 2″, 1-1/4″ to 3-1/4″ and 1-3/4″ to 4″.

Heat treated and match-ground, these knives are designed to maintain a perfect pitch after sharpening.  Different types of knives (such as beading and grooving) are available based on the type of project.

I’m sure some of you out there are expert woodworkers and can tell us what it’s like to use a dowel cutter.  The adjustable cutter size seems like it would be great – is it? 

by John Barker

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