How can I cut a groove in a dowel?
I want to cut a 1⁄4 " groove along the 3' length of a 3⁄4 "-diameter dowel. Can I do this with my table-mounted router?
—Stew Levine, West Orange, New Jersey
A simple jig should solve your problems, Stew. In a piece of wood about 2" square and at least as long as your dowel, cut a centered groove that's as wide and deep as the dowel's diameter. The fit needs to be tight enough that the jig holds the dowel in place. Then add a heel at one end, as shown at top. The heel becomes especially important when grooving dowels shorter than 12".
For added grip, place strips of double-faced tape on the bottom of the groove before inserting your dowel with one end resting against the heel. Then chuck a 1⁄4 " slot-cutting bit into your table-mounted router and adjust the height to the center of the dowel within the jig resting on its side, as shown above. Adjust the router-table fence to control the depth of cut. Test your settings on 2"-square scrap to center the cut; then make passes up to 1⁄4 " deep each until you reach the desired groove depth.