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Quick review: LV Dowel Cutter

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Frank D.

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I don't know if this is available in the UK, but I did a little review of the new LV dowel cutter on another site, which you can see here: http://www.lamortaise.com/modules.php?n ... pic&t=3602 Since it's in French I'll stick a translated version here in case any of you were wondering how this tool performs.
Here's the tool on the Lee Valley site:

http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx ... at=51&ap=3
First, I wasn't sure what to expect from a $20 CDN (what's that, about 9 pound?) tool. Lee Valley has another version which has been available for a while, but it costs $200 CDN for the basic kit (which allows you to cut several diameters, however). But when I unwrapped the tool I was pleasantly surprised: it is considerably more substantial and heavier than it appears to be on the pic. I was impressed so far. The blade is carbon steel and the tool comes with an allen key to adjust it. An adapter to hold the blank in a drill is available at a minimal price.
I sharpened the blade, which needed it (quite normal), and I flattened the back (which was slightly convex, so it took me more than an hour; oh well, at least you don't have to do it twice...). After the first test run, I adjusted the blade. If you look down the hole where the dowel goes in, it's quite easy to line up the far side of the blade with the exit hole. After just one adjustment everything was working perfectly.

For my first try I used straight-grained hard maple. The dowel measured about 8" long (by 1/2" in diameter, the size of the dowel cutter I bought), and the results were just about perfect. Just a very light sanding is needed. The dowel seems quite straight also:

How's this for a cool shaving?:

Then came the real test, a 16" dowel made from 2 tropical hardwoods (bloodwood and yellowheart). Here's the result:

The results were good enough, although not perfect. First, there was tearout on the bloodwood on about half the dowel:

You can't see it all on the pic, but it made about half the dowel useless. But I must say in the tool's favor that the grain was quite swirly where it tore out, and on the other half, where the grain was straight, the results were close to perfect. Even my best planes have trouble with bloodwood when the grain reverses and changes direction, so I don,t think I could expect a dowel cutter to perform any better. First lesson learned: use straight grained wood (nothing new for dowels...)
The second minor flaw was that the dowel was slightly crooked. Over 16" there was about 1/16" (or a little more) concavity:

Not so bad all things considered. The blank was quite long, which caused some vibration as I was feeding it into the cutter, and I did stop half way through the cut. I also didn't use any outfeed support, contrary to the recommendations in the instructions (I didn't see the need,and I still don't but maybe I'm just thick-headed). Luckily I didn't need such a long dowel, I just wanted to make a long one to cut into appropriate lengths. Next time I make a long one I'll just provide some infeed and outfeed support (a little hassle but to be expected I guess).
So I think all in all it's a very good tool at a great price (at least here in Canada). I hope it will be available soon in the UK for you to enjoy.
 

Gill

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Thanks for the review, Frank. This could be a nifty little addition to any workshop.

Gill
 

DaveL

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Frank,

Thanks for the review. It says the blade is curved? How did you sharpen it, free hand?

What are the chances of Rob bringing a 3/8" one over for tools 2005? :roll:
 

Alf

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Mmm, that's is cool; and that's just the shavings. :lol: And Veritas badged too, so there's a good chance they'll be available over here for the less internationally-minded shooper - like me. :D Thanks for the review, Frank. =D>

Cheers, Alf
 
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Anonymous

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Looks good (including shavings) just need brimarc to stock them in metric sizes now
 

DaveL

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Tony":zgrm4jyx said:
to stock them in metric sizes now
Go and wash your mouth out young man....oh, I think I have just found the problem!! #-o :whistle: :wink: :lol:

The blade position is adjustable, so you might be able to produce metre sizes at a pinch. :-k Sounds like a job for your friendly machine shop to sleeve the bore down. [-o<
 
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DaveL":1jd7knnh said:
Tony":1jd7knnh said:
to stock them in metric sizes now
Go and wash your mouth out young man....oh, I think I have just found the problem!! #-o :whistle: :wink: :lol:
[-o<
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Had alovely experience yesterday. Went to a woodyard where they only deal in metric sizes :shock:

All racks marked at 150mm * 21mm or 155mm * 25mm and sold by the metre 8) not an inch or cubic foot in sight :D
 

Alf

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Tony":20dgnvxx said:
Had alovely experience yesterday. Went to a woodyard where they only deal in metric sizes :shock:

All racks marked at 150mm * 21mm or 155mm * 25mm and sold by the metre 8) not an inch or cubic foot in sight :D
Eeek! :shock: Burn the heretic! :wink: :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

tim

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What a great bit of kit. That goes on the list definitely for a non turner like me.

That reminds me, I need to add a bad purchase to this thread

but to save you having to look:

LN dowel plate
Beautifully made, really poor functionality. Any timber has to be about 0.1mm bigger than the hole otherwise the tear out is terrible. Also the timber will twist as it comes through meaning the resulting dowel isn't straight. :(

Cheers

Tim
 

Bean

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Of Course you can always make your own using the an appropreately sized nut. Simply drill out the tread in the nut so you have a hole the the same size as the dowel you want. Then using a 3 square file, file some slots into one of the end faces of the nut. Put a taper on the wood you want to make into a dowel place the other end into your power drill (mains) and feed it through the nut.

At least thats what I do :D it costs a lot less than $20, but it does not have LV on the side a bit of a downer for the retentives types :wink:

Bean
 

Frank D.

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DaveL":153b7cql said:
Frank,

Thanks for the review. It says the blade is curved? How did you sharpen it, free hand?

What are the chances of Rob bringing a 3/8" one over for tools 2005? :roll:
Yes, I did it freehand. I'll probably redo the main bevel with a grinder when it gets too rounded over or out of whack.

Tony, they'll be coming out with metric sizes very shortly, I have inside information on this, a 9.53 mm, 11.11 mm, and of course the very handy 12.70 mm version.
Bean, the nut idea sounds interesting. I made a dowel plate a few months ago, quite a rustic tool that took me a while to perfect. I admire people who make everything themselves, but when the price is right sometimes it makes sense to save the time and hassle and buy something that works well, right out of the box. This was one of those times for me...
 

DaveL

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Frank,

Thanks for the info.


Frank D.":y2jcsznv said:
Tony, they'll be coming out with metric sizes very shortly, I have inside information on this, a 9.53 mm, 11.11 mm, and of course the very handy 12.70 mm version.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
I came very close to posting this earlier, I thank you Frank for displaying what I was thinking.
 

martyn2

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:D this would be useful for using up all those offcuts to make pocket hole fillers and be able to match up the woods or use contrasting ones it would pay for it self in no time :idea:

martyn :D
 

dedee

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Bean,
Can you explain a bit more about your nut technique?
What is the significance of the filed slots?
Do the slots need to face the wood as it is fed in?
How is the cutting done? or is the wood just worn away by friction on the inside surfaces of the nut?

thanks

Andy
 
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