I realize I am still in the beginning phase of designing this but I want to make a guitar wall hanger. The design as is will be a simple base plate (either plywood or 1x dimensional lumber) with 2 dowel rods set into the base plate. The guitar will hang on the dowels.

My question: Since even the most expensive dowels are vastly cheaper than the even the cheapest guitars, I want the dowels to be strong enough to not shear off while the guitar is hanging. SO, is there a reference for how much weight a dowel will hold when inserted into a board? If it helps, I doubt the dowel on the finished piece will be longer than 3 inches sticking out from the wall, and the guitar will likely be inserted as far back on the dowels as possible. As for how much weight, most weigh between 5 and 15 pounds, so let's budget for 20 pounds.

  • a lot of the force will be cross-grain sheer wood is pretty strong in that regard. Jun 10, 2015 at 12:54

3 Answers 3


While a 1/4" pair of dowels would likely be able to hold a guitar if left alone, a good twisting bump might break them off. A 1/2" dowel would be plenty, and I think a 3/4" dowel (at 3-4") would be able to hold me without breaking (200 lbs.) I would recommend 1/2" since that would be plenty strong and still small enough not to be obvious for your display.

(I am assuming that most of these guitars are under 20 lbs. I think most are under 10 lbs.)

Found this one for dowels starting at 1.5" http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/fnr/faculty/Eckelman/pdf/fpj57%285%2960-64.pdf

  • You are right about the weight. Most guitars/basses run between 10 and 20 pounds. I should probably edit that into the question.
    – Pulsehead
    Jun 10, 2015 at 13:27
  • Since the OP was asking are you aware of a reference for the 200 lbs weight?
    – Matt
    Jun 10, 2015 at 13:27
  • @Matt no I couldn't find a reference (I'll try looking again). I have tested a 3/4 dowel with my weight though. and that of course is one way to test. glue one in and see what it takes to break it.
    – bowlturner
    Jun 10, 2015 at 13:29
  • The Purdue reference that you cite is irrelevant to the question. It is for dowels loaded in double shear, not for single shear, not to mention, it starts with 1.5 inch dowels and gets bigger. Further the mode of failure in question would be from excess moment (when the guitar strap gets out towards the end of the dowel).
    – Ast Pace
    Feb 7, 2016 at 17:49

Have you considered strengthening it? Perhaps it seems like cheating, but given what it will be holding, I would be tempted to put a screw into the dowel just to give it some additional strength. Instead of drilling a hole all the way through the base plate for each dowel, drill only partially through on both sides of the plate. Drill a pilot hole for the screw through the base plate and into the dowel, and then put a screw in to hold the dowel. Put a plug on the other side to hide the screw.

  • That was my rough plan. Essentially drill a "mortise" for the dowel on one side of the base, and drill a countersunk hole on the other side. I'm not worried about the dowel falling out of the base board, i'm worried about the dowel being too narrow and snapping in half.
    – Pulsehead
    Jun 10, 2015 at 14:46

The problem with your design isn't the dowels. Any reasonably sized dowel can hold that much when supported from both ends.

The dowels will be acting as a first class lever at the joint of them and your base plate. 1x dimensional lumber is thinner than 1" and so is most plywood.

With even a small amount of weight at ~2" out you will get some flex at that joint. If these dowels are parallel to the ground as you seem to imply, that slight amount of flex will turn your dowels into ramps. Vibrations from people walking will eventually wiggle them off the ends to the their death.

You need to beef up that joint. An easy way to do that is to double up your 1x stock, drill a hole the exact same size as your dowel rod (measure; they're not always what they say), and hammer your dowel in so it's real tight.

I say double up the 1x because then you can get a bit of a design going, e.g. a smaller plate in front center on a bigger plate in the back. Nothing too complicated.

Oh, yeah. Stain your parts before you assemble and it will turn out beautiful.

  • 1
    While this will help keep the guitar from falling off, I strongly recommend doing something more. Possibilities include placing the dowels in at an angle, carving a notch at the end to catch anything about to fall off, or having a cap or something on the end of the dowel that's slightly larger than the dowel. Jun 10, 2015 at 21:30
  • 1
    That's what I was thinking too, but I wanted to keep it simple. What could he use as an end cap that would not look atrocious? The slant is a good idea. I am assuming OP has limited woodworking tools and it can be hard to drill an angled hole with a (most likely) spade bit. Jun 11, 2015 at 16:50

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