How would you cut game counters from dowels?

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I'd also be opting for the bandsaw.
With a fine tooth blade, and even go so far as the wrap the rod in either tape, or even several layers of paper, just whatever prevents the breakout.

Tape, obviously you have the issue of its sticky residue, but paper, you lay the rod on a sheet of newspaper and roll it up in it. This should make it tight enough to the rod.

Used to use a trick for cutting bicycle brake and gear cable, which is twisted(braided?) thin strands.
If you have a proper set of cable cutters thats fine and cuts it cleanly. But if you try to cut this type of cable with pliers or regular snips, the end unravels and frays and you cannot feed it in to the cable hose/housing.

The solution there was to wrap the bit you're going to cut in several layers of electrical tape, and even cheap pliers will cut through cleanly because the cable inside is fully supported all round.

So the same is going to apply if you wrap the rod/dowel. The tight paper layers support it all round and no breakout occurs
 
With a powered miter saw just clamp a stop block to the right of the blade . Make a V block to hold the dowel and cut down into the sacrificial block and dowel. Don't lift the saw until it has stopped spinning to avoid marking the dowel. This will give plain counters of equal height. If you want decorative rings as in draught pieces then the lathe is the only way to do it.
 
Don't lift the saw until it has stopped spinning to avoid marking the dowel.
that'll take forever considering he said 100+ dowels
This will give plain counters of equal height. If you want decorative rings as in draught pieces then the lathe is the only way to do it.
no way, there are many ways to skin a cat. Takes a bit of imagination though.

For volume production I'd be inclined to create a jig based off a drill press, with a rubber stop on the end of a bolt that on contact with the game counter rotates it within an open captured ring. A cutting tool with a custom profile (very easy to do with a hacksaw, file and a blow torch for hardening) captured within a linear slider (for consistency) would allow you to make thousands very efficiently.

If anybody is interested in this sort of stuff, search instagram for the accounts that share chinese/indian/whatever production methods, some of them are outrageously dangerous, but most of them are amazing sources of inspiration.
 
Use a chopsaw with a new fine toothed blade. Place a stop block to the right of the blade but with a removable piece which can be taken out after the dowel is pushed up to it - if the cut piece isn't trapped between the blade and the stop it won't fly anywhere. For extra caution (as someone else mentioned) let the blade stop before lifting.
 
Thanks everyone - some really great help here. Just looking at the recent posts around a mitre saw, is there any difference in finish I could expect between a mitre saw and a bandsaw for this job?

In the same was as I could make a jig to cut multiple dowels at once on the bandsaw, I could potentially do the same with a sliding mitre?
 
Thanks everyone - some really great help here. Just looking at the recent posts around a mitre saw, is there any difference in finish I could expect between a mitre saw and a bandsaw for this job?

In the same was as I could make a jig to cut multiple dowels at once on the bandsaw, I could potentially do the same with a sliding mitre?
The finish from a chopsaw will be far superior to a bandsaw - with a good blade you'll get barely any teeth marks and no break out but they'll still need sanding to finish. I wouldn't suggest cutting multiple dowels on a chopsaw.
 
I was cutting mitres to make a picture frame on my mitre saw a couple of weeks back. Something I noticed was that i got chip out if the workpiece was against the fence but if I put a block on the fence to bring it out I didn't get chip out. I think it was to do with the angle the blade was hitting the wood. With the block I was coming down straight on top of it so the teeth were moving almost horizontal across the wood, but at the fence the blade was contacting the wood at an upward angle.


also goes without saying use clamps so your fingers aren't near the blade. I had my saw kickback one and the entire saw jumped a bit. scared the poop out of me and I had to think 'did I just lose fingers'. thankfully I did not.
 
I had to cut some small lengths of 10mm ally tube that could not be held on the lathe, I got a piece of plastic drilled out to 10mm put a screw in the end to regulate the length then cut on the bandsaw I had the vacuum set up to catch the pieces and it worked great I'll see if I can find it to show you, think something like would help you too.
 
Here you are,the plastic is held in the left hand hold the dowel in the right, you set the length of cut with the screw cut off with the bandsaw close to plastic and empty the counter into a box or vacuum.

IMG_20240614_1615479.jpg IMG_20240614_1616118.jpg
 
Use a chopsaw with a new fine toothed blade. Place a stop block to the right of the blade but with a removable piece which can be taken out after the dowel is pushed up to it - if the cut piece isn't trapped between the blade and the stop it won't fly anywhere. For extra caution (as someone else mentioned) let the blade stop before lifting.
I should have added that it's essential to add a sub-fence and base to your chopsaw - I use 12mm MRF.
 

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The Bandsaw jig as in post 40 above looks to be very safe and easy to make. You will still have saw marks I would suggest making a simple sanding jig with two snug holes, one to sand one side and the second to sand the opposite side flush, let into a piece of 1/2" plywood. It would be a help to use a dense close grained hardwood like maple as you are sanding the endgrain of the dowels.
Commercial dowels are usually made from a cheap eastern hardwood like Ramin and are never round. It's worth sanding any dowel to a round shape in the lathe or on a drill press before proceeding with the cutting.
 
Crosscut sled for the bandsaw, with a stop for the thickness required ... you can probably hold 3 dowels steady with your hand, or try the selotape trick from @ChaiLatte above
 
I have a project where I'm making lots of small wooden discs to use as game counters. I'm cutting them down from 3/4" hardwood dowel and each counter is about 1/2" thick. At the moment I'm working by hand with a manual Nobex mitre saw, but after 100+ counters it's hard going. :D

How would you handle this with a power tool? My priority is clean, accurate cuts to minimise finishing time, so avoiding tear-out on each cut. Safety as well, with no counters flying around the workshop!

I don't have too many fixed power tools, but could consider a chop saw or band saw to make this work (and for other projects longer term). I don't have space at the moment for a table saw, so that isn't an option. What would you do?
About 55 years ago I started making toys for a living and cutting dowels to length was a big part of it.
By hand at first, then by Burgess band saw, which immediately increased productivity by a hundredfold or so and paid for itself in the first week.
Much faster to cut them in bundles, taped together with drafting tape (easy to clean off). Slow pass for minimum tear out.
Next leap in productivity was with Startrite 352 which also enabled cutting bigger stuff and useful for general joinery.
 

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